A road inaugurated at the end of last month has cut travel time from the Thai border near Nan City to Luang Prabang in Laos. The new two-lane route, Highway 4b, cuts through mountain terrain and has reduced driving time between Thailand’s Huai Kon Border crossing to the UNESCO World Heritage town from nine to five hours.
The junction of Highway 4b is roughly 50kms from Huai Kon and close to the Lao town of Nabalone. According to the Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency, the highway is 114kms long and ends close to the north bank of the Mekong River and more-or-less directly opposite Luang Prabang. Those taking Mekong River cruises between Huay Xai and Luang Prabang might enjoy the different scenery if making the road trip in one direction.
The national bus operator, the Thai Transport Company, launched daily services linking Nan and Luang Prabang in November of 2017. Due to sparse passenger numbers, buses now only operate on days when there are enough passengers to justify it. The shorter route has reduced journey times from 10 hours to 8 hours 30 minutes.
The What’s Up Guide to Travelling from Chiang Mai to Laos has more details about the different journey options between the neighbouring countries.