There is one thing you must remember about transportation in Laos. Everywhere is a long way from where you are now. Sure, in distance, Vang Vieng is only 218 kms away. Well that is what google maps tells us anyhow. In reality, that small distance is on very skinny, windy, hilly, and pot holey roads. The vehicle that you take won't be going any more than 40kms an hour.
Let's math problem this.
Round up the kilometres to 220 km - the distance between Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng.
At a speed of 40km per hour
220 / 40 = The bus will take five and a half hours.
BUT in reality, the bus will be going about 30kms per hour so that it doesn't fall of the side of a cliff, run into another bus, or even worse, run over a cow.
220 / 30 = The bus will take just over seven and a bit hours.
This is more realistic...
To reach Vang Vieng from Luang Prabang, you can easily head to the bus station which is out of town and buy your tickets directly from there. It would take a good hour to walk the distance as it took at least 10 minutes in the tuk tuk.
Or, you could do as many other tourists before you do, and head to a travel agent and buy either a bus or a minivan ticket through them. The travel agent will even throw in transport via a tuk tuk from their business or your guesthouse and take you to the bus station. This is what we did.
VIP Bus - 8:00am, 9:00am, 9:30am, 7:30pm - Takes 5 hours - 150,000 to 160,000 Kip from a Travel Agent
Express Bus - 8:00am, 9:00am, 9:30am, 7:30pm - Takes 5 hours - 150,000 to 160,000 Kip from a Travel Agent
Mini Van - 8:00am, 9:00am, 10:00am, 2:00pm - Takes 5 hours - 130,000 Kip from a Travel Agent
All will take between 5 - 8 hours long depending on the bus and road conditions.
We purchased the VIP Bus option, leaving at 8am for 160,000 Kip each. You could possibly get the tickets a lot cheaper than this, we just didn't look further or bargain at all.
The VIP Bus is meant to have a working toilet on board. Ours had a broken toilet. So, no toilet on our VIP Bus. You may be lucky!
At 7:15am, as promised, a tuk tuk arrived at our guesthouse and took us to the bus station. We had to hand in our Ticket Receipt to the bus station teller who then handed us our proper bus tickets. They also included a meal voucher.
At 8:00am, our VIP bus left with us sitting quite uncomfortably in a small space. This was the first time we had to place our bags under the bus. So we had to transfer our electronics into a smaller backpack, which I held on my lap the entire way.
Looking out the window was beautiful. The scenery in Laos is amazing. We had a lot of time to relax, nap, read, and listen to podcasts.
Our bus had made a stop about an hour before reaching Vang Vieng for a meal stop. The food was pretty tasty and free. Nice!
Quite a few hours later, at around 2:30pm, we arrived in Vang Vieng. Huzzah!