Getting to Laos
Bordered with 5 countries there are many ways to get into Laos and you can be as adventurous as you dare.
The bullet train, named Lane Xang, opened on 2 Dec 2021. Schedules and pricing are below.
The streamlined “China-standard” bullet train, or the Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) train, designed and built by Chinese companies, can run at 160 km/hour. It is operated by the Laos-China Railway Company. The express train is named Lane Xang and is equipped with snack and beverage bars, facilities for people with disabilities and information services in Lao, Chinese and English. It has 9 carriages – a control car, a dining car, a first-class car with 56 seats and 6 second-class coaches. There are 720 air-conditioned seats in total. Each seat has an electrical power outlet.
Ticket Offices and Purchasing Train Tickets
The railway station ticket offices are open around when trains are scheduled to arrive or depart. At most train stations advance tickets can be purchased up to 3 days before the departure date and payment must be in cash. Passengers may not able to purchase return tickets at the same time as the departing ticket.
Non-railway ticket offices are open in central Luang Prabang (Near Vietnamese Embassy) and on the ground floor of Vientiane Center in central Vientiane. Hours are 10:00 am to 12:00 noon and from 12:30 pm to 15:30 pm each day (note these can vary). Each person may only purchase 2 tickets. You must show valid ID (passport for foreigners or Family Book/ID for Lao Nationals) and a COVID-19 vaccination certificate. Payment can only be made by UnionPay card or by QR Code (OnePay, UnionPay, Alipay and Wechat) at a POS machine. Cash is not accepted. Essentially tourists cannot pay for a ticket without a local with a Lao Bank Account. A service fee of 20,000 kip per ticket is charged.
You must show your tickets as you leave the destination station or face a fine of the maximum ticket price.
If you don't have a ticket, you should arrive at least two hours before departure time since you need to queue for ticket purchase and again for entry to the station and then go through security checks.
The main railway station interiors are only open a little before and after scheduled train departure times and no toilets or other services such as food or drinks or seats are available outside the stations. Not a good place to wait for very long and not much shade, be prepared to wait a few hours. From October 2022, outside toilets are provided by a 3rd party and can use used for a small fee.
Limited beverages and snacks are available onboard the trains.
You should arrive at the station at least one hour before departure time and remain in the waiting area for the inspection of tickets and documents. All passengers need to wear protective masks and observe social distancing recommendations. Temperature checks will be carried out and anyone with a temperature higher than 37.3 Centigrade will not be allowed to enter the station.
To check tick availability see posts at https://www.facebook.com/LaosChinaRailway
Passengers will be allowed to carry more baggage with them on K11/K12 slow trains. The express train has a 20-kilogram limit per passenger.
There are 32 stations along the Laos-China Railway line. These are the 20 main stations, including 10 passenger stations and 10 cargo stations.
Train Fares are correct as of 7 Feb 2023