Best way to get to downtown from Vientiane's Wattay International Airport
Vientiane's Wattay International Airport is only 5km west of the city center and is very easy to get to
There are two main ways that most people use to get into the city center from Wattay International Airport: taxi and shuttle bus. Aside from these two, you should also check if your hotel provides airport pick up service, or book a private airport transfer from websites like Klook
Taxi from the airport (I recommend this because it's the easiest and best way to get to downtown Vientiane from the airport):
Taxi is most common way for tourists to get in to Vientiane from the airport
Taxi costs 57,000 kip, or $6.6 USD to get to downtown area for a 4-passenger taxi. You can also get a bigger van that can seat 8 passengers for 66,000 kip or $7.6 USD. You do not need to tip the driver in Laos
To purchase the ticket, you simply need to look for the taxi booth inside the terminal building, right next to the exit door (look for a sign that says "Taxi & Mini Bus Service"). At the booth, you buy a coupon which you will use to take a taxi. This is what it looks like (photo courtesy of VientianeAirport.com):
Payment for taxi is cash only. But you can pay either in Laotian Kip or US Dollars. If you plan to pay for it with USD, ensure you carry small notes ($1, or $5) and the condition of the notes are very good
Taxis and the booth are running as long as the airport is open, so don't worry about being able to get a taxi even if you arrive very late in the night, or flight is delayed
Of course, this is the official airport taxi service. The ~$7USD fare is considered expensive by Laos standards. If you want to take cheaper taxi, you can walk 200 meters from the terminal building to get out of the airport grounds and hail a tuk tuk from main street (this spot here). These tuk tuks can take you to down for about half the price as a the official airport taxi. But you must negotiate, and this is only recommended if you don't have a lot of luggage
Taxi ride from the airport to the city will take no more than 15 minutes
Shuttle bus from the airport:
Shuttle bus is a great and cheap way to get to the city, if you're staying close to one of its stops
Fare is only 15,000 kip ($1.75 USD). You can buy tickets either on board with the driver or better yet at the booth inside the terminal building (look for a sign that says "Bus Ticket Service"), like this:
The bus goes runs from the airport to the Central Bus Station (located here), making many stops on the way.
This section between the airport and Central Bus Station is called Section A by the bus company.
After Central Bus Station, the bus has a "Section B" that goes farther to the Lao ITECC shopping mall, making even more stops. To take this Section B you need to pay another 4000 kip (50 cents USD) on top of the 15,000 kip base fare. Most of the hotels you're likely staying at will in Section A
The boarding area of the bus is about 30 meters to the right of the exit door of the arrival terminal building. Look for signs that says "Bus Stop", or "Airport Bus Service"
The bus departs once every 40 minutes between 9:15am and 9:15pm
It takes 30 minutes to get to the Central Bus Station from the airport
Here's the official map of the bus route posted on the airport website as of 2019 (section A is all the red bubbles and lines and section B is all the blue bubbles and lines):
Private transfers to city center:
There are a handful of private transfer providers that you can book online for who will wait for you at the arrival area. For example: