Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and the country’s second largest city. It is also the main international gateway into the country as its airport handles plenty of flights, especially to/from cities in the near-by countries.
Luang Prabang is the former capital of Laos. The city is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It mixes the traditional Lao architecture with the European influences , as a reminder of the times when Laos was under French influence.
If you are on a limited budget, the only option is the 24h (sometimes up to 30 h) bus ride between Hanoi and Luang Prabang. Otherwise, you can fly (for 3 times the cost of a bus ticket).
Flights from Hanoi (airport code: HAN) to Luang Prabang
Hanoi is served by Noi Bai International Airport (HAN), which is located about 45 km from the city center. It is hub for Air Mekong and Vietnam Airlines.
Luang Prabang International Airport (LPQ) is located just north of the town of Luang Prabang. It is not a hub for any airline but does handle flights to/from some cities in the near-by countries.
Direct flights between Hanoi and Luang Prabang are operated by: Lao Airlines and Vietnam Airlines. The flight time is 1h to 1h 25 min. In 2012, expect to pay from US$146 one way on Vietnam Airlines.
>>read more about Cheap Flights to Hanoi
Buses from Hanoi to Luang Prabang
There are direct buses between Hanoi and Luang Prabang. Your best bet is to have someone at the hostel/hotel you are staying get the bus ticket from the company operating on the route (Naluang Company Travel is one of them, but they don’t have a website). Or you can go to the bus station and make the travel arrangements yourself. Another option is to stroll around Ma May Street and find the best prices from the various travel agencies in the area.
The fare is about US$50 and the bus ride about 24 to 30 hours. All buses are sleepers.
Please remember that you can either have a pre-arranged visa for Laos or get one on arrival, directly at the border crossing.
Driving from Hanoi to Luang Prabang
You can rent a car in Hanoi and plan to drive to Luang Prabang. However, you will be crossing the border so make sure that your rental company allows that. The total journey is 1023 km (drive time: 14 hours). Do make sure to plans several stops along the way.