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Kapono Cheruene

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I'm Laotian living in Vientiane

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Asia > Laos > Vientiane > Useful Info
Updated on Jul 03, 2019 Useful Info

Best ways for travelers to get around Vientiane

I live in Vientiane and in my opinion the best ways for travelers to get around the city are walking, tuk tuk, songthaew, taxi/LOCA, bicycle rental

  • Walking (best option 70% of the time):
  • Vientiane is a big city, but the city center where many points of interest and most hotels and other tourist amenities (like shops, cafes, bars, etc.) are located is roughly 2km by 2km in area like this:

  • Chances are you'll be staying inside this area or just next to it, and within this area you really can walk around everywhere in 5-15 minutes
  • Sidewalks in this area are generally spacious and in good condition


  • Tuk tuk (good for some farther attractions in the city):
  • There are many points of interest in Vientiane that are located a bit outside the central area, including Pha That Luang, COPE Visitor Center, Wat Si Muang, Wat That Khao, and so on. To get to these places, walking is always an doable (might take you 30 minutes), but in the midday heat tuk tuk might be the best option
  • Tuk tuks (also called jumbos in Laos) are everywhere in the city between 7am and 10pm. Within this time frame, you really don't need to worry about finding one on the street. Simply walk on a main street, or towards a market, and you will find them going past by you or waiting at a curbs. Extend your hand to hail one, or approach the driver of a parked one
  • Tuk tuk prices for travelers is around 20,000-40,000 LAK ($2.5-$5 USD) for most trips in the city center and in the immediate surrounding area. As a rule of thumb, it should be around 15,000 per kilometer
  • You should always bargain. Whatever they offer (even if they call it an official price and it's printed on a card), counteroffer with 1/2 the price they quoted. If they don't agree, walk away and find the next one
  • Also, I say "for travelers" because tuk tuk drivers almost always charge 2X - 3X for tourists because they know they can afford it. It's very unfair, but unfortunately it's how things are done in Vientiane. We locals frequently pay 5000 for trips, but I don't think any tuk tuk driver will ever offer that rate to tourists
  • The reality is most tourists simply do not bargain. Over time tuk tuk drivers have learned to inflate the rates because they know they can get away with it 4 times out of 5
  • A tip to get better rate with tuk tuks (though it may not always work) is to not go for the parked ones right in front of major attractions, hotels, markets, or other "touristy" areas. These drivers are chasing after top dollars and will almost never give you a fair rate. If you walk away from these tourist hot spots and hail a moving one, then you're more likely to get a better ate
  • As with other places, always agree on a fare with a tuk tuk driver before you hop on. In fact, pull out your phone and type in the fare to show your driver to confirm. I have heard of a situation where the tourist though they agreed on 15,000 LAK but the driver at the end insisted it was 50,000 LAK


  • Songthaew (cheaper than tuk tuk and good for going to attractions):
  • Songthaews are shared taxis. They look like this:User submitted photo of Vientiane
  • How to hail a Songthaew:
  1. Extend your hand to hail a moving songthaew, or approach the driver of any parked ones
  2. Go to the driver and tell him where you want to go to and how many people you have. Usually you don't need to tell them the exact address because they know where everything is
  3. Driver will tell you a rate. If you agree, you hop on the back. You pay the driver once you have arrived at your destination
  • Their prices are cheaper than tuk tuks because they are shared. You can usually pay 10,000 LAK to 20,000 LAK ($1.2-$2.5USD) to get to pretty much anywhere in Vientiane. Similar to with tuk tuks, you should always try to bargain, although you will find that the fares songthaew drivers quote you are usually a lot more reasonable than what tuk tuk drivers quote you
  • Because they are shared, they usually only go to popular destinations. Which means they are good for taking you to attractions, but not good for taking you back to your hotel (unless your hotel is located in a popular area). However, you should still try. Oftentimes they will drop you off at a major road or mall close to your hotel


  • Taxis:
  • Believe it or not, taxis is actually a relatively recent thing in Vientiane, having only become more popular in the last 5 years. But even today, taxis are more so for airport transportation. Within the city it's actually really rare to see taxis that you can just hail off the street. Most often you have to call taxi companies to arrange a car
  • There are some yellow taxis roaming the streets though. You can certainly hail it if you see one around:User submitted photo of Vientiane
  • If you want to arrange a taxi, I recommend having your hotel call them on your behalf, as their English is not good and it will be hard to communicate your pickup point and destination
  • If you're staying in a major hotel, there will be taxis parked outside of it too to take you to wherever you want
  • Some taxi phone numbers in Vientiane include (+856 is the country code for Laos):
  • +856 030 77 75 060
  • +856 020 55 828 841
  • +856 030 77 71 812
  • +856 020 56 921 111
  • Taxis should be metered but are often not. Negotiate a rate with them like they are a tuk tuk: 15,000 LAK per km ($1.75USD). Agree on the fare and confirm by typing the fare into your phone and show the driver, before you get on the car


  • LOCA (like Uber and Grab):
  • There is not Uber or Grab in Laos, LOCA is the only ride hailing app in Laos right now
  • I personally use it quite often and it feels safe to me, but obviously you need to decide if you are comfortable riding in a stranger's car
  • It works exactly like Uber, where you link your credit card to the app and hail drivers to your GPS location with a click and pay based on actual distance traveled
  • The price is comparable to tuk tuks, but the experience is much better
  • Obviously you will need to have wifi or mobile data in order to use this app to hail cars
  • You can see more information on their website: https://www.loca.la


  • Bicycle rental:
  • Getting around Vientiane on a bicycle is not a bad idea if you want to explore a lot of places on budget
  • Prices are very low, at around 10,000 LAK per day ($1.25 USD) for a regular bicycle and 20,000 LAK ($2.5 USD) for a mountain bike
  • Also, the city is very flat so biking is very not overly physically demanding
  • In terms of where to rent, the first place you should check with is your hotel. Many hotels offer bicycle rental
  • If not, these are some rental shops popular with tourists:
  • Mixay Rental: Facebook, location
  • Lao Bike: Tripadvisor, location
  • For more professional gears, check out this website that lists out bicycle shops in Vientiane. I'm not too familiar with these shops as I'm not a cycling enthusiast, so I'm not sure if they sell bike only or also rent them. The ones this site listed include:
  • Top Cycle Zone: Facebook, location
  • Seven Days Bike Shop: Facebook, location
  • Chongcharoen Bike: Facebook, location