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Northern Laos is a mountainous region of Laos. It shares borders with Thailand, Myanmar, China and Vietnam. The region encompasses the provinces of (from north to south) Phongsali, Oudomxai, Luang Namtha, Bokeo and Sainyabuli.


Map of Northern Laos
  • 1 Huay Xai - near the Thailand border crossing, and the departure point for the Gibbon Experience in Bokeo Nature Reserve
  • 2 Luang Prabang - famed cultural town and former capital
  • 3 Luang Namtha - capital of Luang Namtha Province
  • 4 Muang Long
  • 5 Muang Ngeun
  • 6 Muang Sing - in Luang Namtha Province
  • 7 Muang Xay (Oudomxay) - capital of Oudomxai Province
  • 8 Pakbeng - in Bokeo Province
  • 9 Sayabouly
  • 10 Vieng Phoukha - in Luang Namtha Province

Other destinations[edit]


Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

The region is served internationally by 1 Luang Prabang International Airport ((LPQ IATA)). which has scheduled flights from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hanoi and Siem Reap and domestically from Vientiane in Central Laos.

Visa-on-arrival is available at Luang Prabang airport and the price is variable based upon your nationality. You need a passport picture to obtain a visa. If you don't have one, they'll scan your picture from your passport and charge you an additional US$1.

Luang Namtha Airport (LXG IATA) has flights from Vientiane.

By road[edit]

Highway 13 connects the region via Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng and Vientiane in Central Laos. Bus journeys along this road are well known for being uncomfortable and windy. Allow 12 hours to travel between Vientiane and Luang Prabang.

By train[edit]

The train station at Luang Prabang photographed in its final stages of construction

The new Chinese-built train line is now fully operational between Vientiane and Boten, taking only 3 hours to travel the entire 414 km length. Two fast electric trains per day stop at the following stations in Northern Laos: Boten, Na Toey, Na Mor, Muang Xai, Muong Nga, Luang Prabang, and then down to Vang Vieng and Vientiane. As of April 2022 tickets can only be bought 2 days in advance, and only at the railway stations. The views from the train in Northern Laos are not spectacular, as the train goes through many tunnels.

Get around[edit]

Buses from the northern bus station travel in Vientiane travel along the Mekong River to Sanakhan (the Lao town opposite Thailand's Chiang Khan), then through the mountains to Pak Lai. From Pak Lai, buses travel south to the Thai border crossing at Kaen Teo and north to Sainyabuli, where buses leave for other northern destinations, including the old royal city of Luang Prabang.






Stay safe[edit]

Go next[edit]

This region travel guide to Northern Laos is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!