10 Day Itinerary: Laos


Landlocked between Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, Laos is a country that often gets overlooked by its more well-known neighbouring countries. However, it's arguably SE Asia's most underrated country as it's rich in culture and breathtaking landscapes. With traditional stilt houses, paddy fields, and the Mekong River with a backdrop of rugged mountains - you would be hard pressed not to fall in love with Laos' charm. It truly is one of the greenest and lushest countries you will ever find. If this wasn't enough, Laos has a laid back attitude to life, and the people who live there are as friendly as they come.

This itinerary will take you from charming Luang Prabang, through Vang Vieng, Vientiane and Kong Lor Caves, and finishing of in the 4000 Islands. You'll climb waterfalls, travel 7 kilometres through a cave, go kayaking, and eat delicious food.

Here's my ten day itinerary for seeing the best of Laos:

Luang Prabang (2 Nights)
Although not the capital, Luang Prabang is a popular starting point for travellers in Laos as it's easily accessible from Thailand. Luang Prabang is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site and is famous for its daily ritual giving of alms to the Buddhist monks in their bright orange ropes. The city is also popular with travellers because of its impressive waterfalls and Pak Ou Caves. Hire a tuk-tuk driver to take you to Kuang Si Waterfall, and spend a few hours climbing to the top.

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After spending two days here, head south to Vang Vieng. Buses are incredibly cheap and the journey takes around three hours. Have your camera ready as the roads between Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng take you through stunning scenery. The journey is arguably one of the most beautiful routes in the world.

Vang Vieng (2 Nights)
My favourite place in Laos! Vang Vieng is incredibly picturesque and so peaceful that you'll definitely want to stay for a couple of days. If you arrive from Luang Prabang around midday, spend the afternoon tubing down the Nam Song River. There are only a few remaining riverside bars, but it's still a fun and relaxing way to soak up the scenery whilst floating along the river. 

For your full day in Vang Vieng, hire a scooter or bicycle and head over to the Blue Lagoon. It's around 8 kilometers from the centre of town and you'll pass lush paddy fields along the way. There are rope swings and trees to jump from into the lake, making it a fun way to spend an afternoon and cool off. 

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From Vang Vieng hop on a bus to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. The journey will take a few hours.

Vientiane (1 Night)
If you arrive in Vientiane at around lunchtime, spend half a day exploring the city, as although it's the capital there isn't a shed load for travellers to do here. Check out the Patuzay Monument (a mixture of the Taj Mahal and the Arc De Triomphe), and the World Peace Gong. Afterwards, head over to the COPE Visitor Centre - a place to learn about the Secret War in Laos. 

It's not commonly known that Laos is the most bombed country in the world relative to the size of its population. During the Vietnam War, almost 300 million cluster bombs were dropped on Laos, of which millions didn't detonate and still haven't been destroyed today. As the reward for selling scrap metal is so high, the country has an ongoing issue with individuals being injured and killed each year from attempting to dig up unexploded bombs. The COPE Visitor Centre aims to teach more people about this issue, and most importantly provide rehabilitation services for people that have been affected by unexploded bombs. 

Stay overnight in Vientiane before starting the long journey to Kong Lor Cave. The journey takes roughly 11 hours.

Kong Lor Cave (1 Night)
Spend the next day travelling from Vientiane to Kong Lor Cave. There is a bus that leaves daily first thing in the morning, and arrives at Kong Lor in the early evening. Grab some dinner at a restaurant (there are only a few to choose from, but you won't go hungry) and get a good night's sleep ready for an early start.

The previous full day of travelling will all be worth it when you head down to the cave. Kong Lor Cave is 7 kilometres deep with the Nam Hin Bun River running through it. Because of this, visitors can take a boat through the cave from one side to the other. There's an information centre at the entrance where travellers buy a ticket, and then a local will operate the boat and take visitors through. Remember a good torch to make the most of your visit!

Visiting the cave will only take half a day, so after this begin making your way further south towards the 4000 Islands. If you've got your own means of transport it's easy peasy. Otherwise opt for a couple of tuk-tuk journeys and an overnight bus to Don Det from Thakhek. 

Don Det Island (2 Nights)
There are three main islands to choose from in 4000 Islands (also known as Si Phan Don), and Don Det is the smallest out of the three. However, it's also the most popular among backpackers and has plenty of cheap guesthouses to stay in. We stayed in a place called Mama Piang's which was clean and cost £5 a night for a private double room.

There isn't a great deal to do on the island, but it's a great place to lay in a hammock all day whilst reading a book. It takes a few hours to walk around the entire island, and less than that if you hire a bike instead. The most popular activity to do in Don Det is a day of kayaking. A guide will take you kayaking through the Mekong River around the islands and you'll also get to visit some of the nearby waterfalls. 

Don Det is really easy to get to via a combination of bus and boat. However, do remember enough cash for the duration of your stay as there are no ATMs on the island. Both Kip and US dollars are accepted.

Going Elsewhere In SE Asia?
After spending a couple of days here it's really simple to book a seat on a bus to Siem Reap or Phnom Penh in Cambodia. Like everything else in Laos a ticket will be incredibly cheap. Remember to have US dollars to get your exit passport stamp and a Cambodian visa!


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  1. Now I'm so desperate to visit Laos! I had never really thought about it before...
    A Story of a Girl