Travelling in Laos: a 10-day Itinerary
Travel in Laos at a slow pace: 10 days allows for relaxation, as well as being able to fit in all the things to see and do. If you have less time and want to do the route faster, it could be easily done in 7-8 days. Here is the day-to-day itinerary to travel in Laos.
* Note that this travel route covers northern Laos.
Discover all the stunning gold-detailed temples, surrounded by vibrant purple and pink flowers. The spirituality of the town is at dawn, during the alms-giving ceremony, where orange-robed monks march together through the streets, receiving flowers and food from the town residents.
Day 5-8: Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng is a town for adventure lovers. Limestone karsts, providing awesome hikes and panoramic viewpoints, surround the town. Hire a motorbike and drive to one of the many turquoise lagoons and caves nearby.
The town, nestled on the banks of the beautiful Nam Song river, provides the perfect water playground for tubing or kayaking. Fill your days with exciting activities and end them by wandering in the stunning paddy fields at sunset.
From Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
The drive by car from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng takes around 5 hours. Traveling in Laos is a bit difficult as the roads are not (yet) well-developed. There are plenty of shared minivans you can take from the Luang Prabang bus station, leaving either in the morning or the afternoon.
A brand-new train track has opened and now provides a faster travel alternative between destinations.
Day 9-10: Vientiane
End your Laos travels in the capital city of Vientiane! Although it has the status of a city, it feels more like a town. As a result, you will only need a day or two to see all the things to do in Vientiane. Home to the grand presidential palace and plenty of impressive temples, the city is the perfect place to get your fix of culture and history.
Laos during the war
During the Vietnam war, 2 million tonnes of bombs were dropped on Laos. Still to this day, some remain unexploded, and many Laotians have been hurt or killed as a result.
The COPE visitor center displays artifacts and films to explain the history, and they also work to help rehabilitate victims who have been affected. A very powerful experience and an essential visit in order to better understand the history of this resilient country.
Buddha Park, Vientiane
If you have time, take the morning to travel 25km outside of the city to the incredible Buddha Park. Here you will find a park filled with over 200 giant buddha statues, all with a slightly weird and wonderful look about them. It is a 40-minute bus journey but worth it to see a more unusual attraction.
From Vang Vieng to Vientiane
The journey to Vientiane takes approximately 1-2 hours by minibus on the new highway. You can also opt for traveling by the new train; this takes around 2 hours to the city center.
Tip: There is also an international airport in Vientiane, so depending on whether your flight arrives into Vientiane or Luang Prabang, you can reverse this itinerary.
Costs of Traveling in Laos
The cost of travel in Laos is very cheap. This is mainly because all activities are centered around nature. For example hiking to cliff points, exploring caves, or swimming in lagoons or waterfalls. Entrance to caves, lagoons, and also to cross bridges are not normally more than 1-2 USD. On a budget, travelers can expect to spend about 10-20 USD a day. If you’re able to spend a bit more you can stay in more high-end accommodation for a very reasonable price.
How to Get Around Laos
The infrastructure in Laos is not yet well developed. Roads are often dirt or unfinished which can make bus journeys slow, especially in the wet season when the roads can flood. Although this makes traveling in Laos more difficult, it is also what gives Laos its charm!
The new train between destinations is very convenient and fast but is also a lot more expensive if you are traveling on a budget.
You can travel through Laos by train or bus. Once at your destination, it is very easy to get around, either on foot or by hiring a motorbike. Songthaews are also widely available- a pick-up truck-style taxi.
Best Time to Visit Laos
To see the lagoons at their most turquoise blue, visit in the dry months between October to March. Keep in mind that October- February is the cooler part of the dry season. After this, temperatures can be hot, and the farmers start burning season in the fields which can cause the sky to be hazy and smoky.
October is a beautiful month to travel to Laos. This is just after the rainy season ends, when the rice fields will still be lush and green, the waterfalls will be running and the lagoons will be starting to look bluer.
Seasons in Laos
Laos has very different seasons, which can be difficult to navigate. You should choose which time of year you visit based on what you want to see. For instance:
Dry Season: if you are hoping for cooler temperatures, it’s a good idea to visit between October to March. However, at this time, it is likely the waterfalls may be dry and rice won’t be growing. Keep in mind that in March/April farmers begin burning season, which may create smoke that can cause problems for allergy sufferers.
Rainy season: is from March-October and Laos sees it’s hottest temperatures in the first few months of the season. It can also be difficult to travel due to the rain and sometimes dangerous. The rice paddies will be green and luscious though, and it is the best time to see the waterfalls.
Do I Need a Visa to Travel to Laos?
To travel to Laos, you will need to apply for an e-visa. The e-visa permits travelers to stay in Laos for 30 days and normally costs between 45 USD to 60 USD, depending on your country of residence. It is valid for single entry only to 5 different entry points in Laos and is valid for 60 days after receiving the approval letter.
Safety in Laos
Laos is very safe to travel in, and people are exceptionally friendly. Crime is very low, although some minor theft does occur. For this reason, it is good to carry your valuables with you, especially when you’re traveling on buses, as there have been cases of tourists having things taken from their bags.
Due to Laos’ history, there are still unexploded bombs in the countryside. Because of this, it is absolutely essential to always stay on the path when hiking. If you are trekking, it is essential to go with a guide.