The Laos fast train has been anticipated for a very long time. Before it’s inception in late 2021, it was difficult and timely to travel between the north of the country – Boten and the southern capital of Vientiane. In fact to just drive the distance without stopping would take a minimum of 20 hours. Now, with the Laos Fast Train it only takes 3.5 hours!
And yet, it is incredibly difficult to find any relevant information about the Laos Fast Train. Even looking on our favorite Rome2Rio app did not get us any needed information. So here is the skinny on how to get tickets for the Laos fast train!
Schedule for the Laos Fast Train
At first we were really confused. However, the Laos Fast Train schedule is pretty straight forward. Basically there are 2 trains a day. If you are travelling from the south to the north, then you will be travelling on train C82 (morning) and C84 (afternoon). If you are travelling from the north to the south, then you will be travelling on train C81 in the afternoon and C83 which runs in the evening.
Pricing for the Laos Fast Train
This is the current price list (June 2022) for tickets for the Laos Fast Train. Travelling distances between the major destinations are usually under 1 hour. For example: Vientaine to Vang Vieng (under 1 hour) or Vang Vieng to Luang Probang (under 1 hour).
Similar train cars house 2nd class and ordinary ticket holders. We could not tell the difference between the benefits of these 2 ticket tiers. Albeit, the ordinary ticket holders were seated in the last cars of the Laos fast train. These cabins are a 3 seats by 2 seats configuration with row 1 only having 2 seats by 2 seats.
First Class ticket holders sit in the first car which has plusher seats which recline further and are in a 2 seats by 2 seats configuration.
Keep in mind that all pricing below has a service fee of 20,000 kip per ticket.
PRO TIP: In addition all Laos Fast Train cars have half of the seats facing in one direction and half in the other. So if you do not like facing backwards during your travel, ask to purchase forward facing seats.
How to Buy Tickets for the Laos Fast Train
We were staying at the Crowne Plaza in Vientiane and asked about purchasing the Laos fast train tickets. Unfortunately no one could really help us and we were sent to the Vientiane Center Lao. This is the largest shopping mall in the center of the capital. The train ticket office is inside on the main floor.
Hours are 10:00 am to 12:00 noon and from 12:30 pm to 15:30 pm each day. Each person may only purchase 2 tickets. You must show your passport 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. A service fee of 20,000 kip per ticket is charged.
OK, so we said that cash is not accepted as this is their “formal” statement. Yet, I pressed and pressed and the lady finally said that I can bring cash. Yes, bring cash. We were there 3 days before the date of our departure. And this was what every blog said – 3 days. Yet, no it is actually 2 days. You can only purchase tickets for the Laos Fast Train 2 days in advance.
Furthermore, the tickets run out quickly. So it is best to come 3 days before your departure, place your name on a reservation list along with your passport information, where you are going, date and type of fare you will be purchasing. Ultimately it made our ticket pick up so much easier! And yes, we were able to pay with cash.
In addition, the train station is a minimum 30 minutes drive from the center, so plan accordingly. Rules say to be at the station at least 1 hour before the train is to depart, Yet, we saw people coming in up to 20 minutes prior to the train departure and no one stopped them from coming in.
The Vang Vieng train station is only 2 km from the center and is a 5-10 minute drive. Fast train Laos tickets can be purchased at the station. However, the train station ticket office is only open around train times. Although most posts state that you can buy tickets 3 days in advance of your trip please keep in mind that it is only 2 days!
In addition, you can buy tickets at your hostel or hotel. Again, you will need to surrender your passport and pay about 30% more for the service. However, the hotel will include the service of the tuk tuk to take you to the train station in their fee.
And finally, for the Laos Fast train Vang Vieng station the tuk tuk will pick you up (if your hostel arranged the ride) about 40 minutes before the train departs. Obviously this was nerve racking for us. However, we were fine. There was no line at the xray entry screening station.
Likewise, in Luang Prabang the train station is 11 km away which makes for a 20 minute ride. Again, as in other Laos fast train stations, tickets are only sold during times of trains coming or going.
In our opinion, it is much easier to pay the additional price and have your hostel/hotel arrange the tickets. We were told to be flexible and provide a few different options in case tickets run out. First we asked for ordinary tickets. Second we asked for 2nd class tickets. And third we asked for 1st class tickets.
Since the hotel makes more money from the higher class tickets – that is what we got. Oh well. At least we got them.
PRO TIP: When arriving at the Luang Prabang fast train station you will see a sea of tuk tuks. There is a small desk in the middle of the parking lot where tickets are sold for 25,000 kip each. The man will ask you your hotel destination. However, they will not necessarily take you there. Therefore, make sure that the driver knows where you are going (they do not look at the receipts that have the hotel name on them). For example we stayed at the amazing Le Bel Air Resort and had to drag our bags across the Old Bridge – not something that you want to do!
Laos Fast Train Additional Rules
Although we were warned about some of these additional Laos Fast Train rules, we were hoping that we can get away with some of them. For instance, no flammables are allowed whatsoever. When they saw Rob’s large beer bottle on the xray they thought it was alcohol. Whiskey to be exact. If it had been hard liquor, it would have been taken away.
In addition, no knives, scissors or sharp objects of any kind are allowed on the Laos Fast Train. In spite of the rules we were able to get our knife through the first ride on the fast train. However, on our second Laos Fast Train ride they found the knife and the barber scissors that we have. I negotiated with the officer and he let me keep the barber scissors! Because of course I have to be able to cut Rob’s hair! But the knife had to go. Oh well.
Our friends were asked to relinquish their Swiss Army knife that was sentimental in value. Consequently, they chose to abandon their Laos Fast Train tickets and take a harrowing 5 hour bus ride through the mountains (instead of a 50 minute fast train). Therefore, beware of what you bring on.
Wrap up Laos Fast Train Tickets
First of all we hope that this post saves you some of the running around that we had to do while in Laos. The Laos fast train is a wonderful modern addition to travel in the country. It has certainly re-connected a lot of families that have been separated by difficult journeys through mountains.
Have you been on the Laos fast train? Did we miss anything that could be valuable to others? Did you travel from Bangkok? We would love to hear from you!