Lawngtlai village was established by Haihmunga Hlawncheu, a Lai Chief, in 1880 at present Vengpui. It has been named “Lawngtlai” as one day the Chief Haihmunga Hlawncheu seized a boat that was drifting down Kaladan river hence the name Lawng-tlai, which means Lawng=boat, and tlai=seized.
According to Mizoram state government Statistical Handbook of 2008, Lawngtlai has a population of 18,959 with 3,246 households; that makes Lawngtlai the second biggest town in Southern Mizoram after Saiha, also known as Siaha. Saiha, a fast-growing town, has a population of 29,275 with 4,560 households in the same year.
Majority of the people belong to Lai group. They are small part of a much larger Chin people in Chin State, Burma. However, nowadays most Lais speak Mizo as their first language. Lais in India in general were earlier known as Pawis by outsiders.
A helicopter service by Pawan Hans has been started which connects the Aizawl with Lawngtlai. The distance between Lawngtlai and Aizawl through NH 54 is 296 km and is connected with regular service of bus and jeeps. The state government has proposed to extend the railway up to Lawngtlai. Lawngtlai is also going to be the nodal point in India for the Kaladan Multi-modal Transit Transport Project which will link the town with Setpyitpyin (Kaletwa) in Myanmar through a 62 kilometer highway.