12 Days in Amazing Laos!
This Itinerary is designed to provide you with a fulfilling trip to Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng & Vientiane. You are planning YOUR trip, and know your interests and needs, so please use what you like from the itinerary. The trip can be easily reversed (starting in Vientiane and ending in LP), you can add days in or cut days out to fit your schedule, or you can just use the sightseeing ideas. Let me know if you have any questions!
Enjoy the Adventure!
Day 1: PM Flight to Luang Prabang
- Flights are available into Luang Prabang from surrounding cities via Laos Airlines; I flew from Hanoi
- Other options include: 1- taking the bus from Hanoi to Luang Prabang 2- A boat from Thailand to Laos 3- A bus from Thailand to Laos 3- A bus from Bangkok 4- A flight into Vientiane (and reverse the itinerary)
- Accommodation: Thongbay Guesthouse ($40-$60 a night) Offers Bungalows tucked back among the Nam Khan River. A large, homemade breakfast is included, along with free bicycle rentals and shuttle busses into town. Walking takes only 15 minutes, and gives you the chance to explore the local homes right outside the charming UNESCO heritage city center. The guesthouse is able to assist with setting up activities, laundry, lunch/dinner, and there is free Wi-Fi during the day until late evening. The Buddhist Monastery is across the river, allowing you to hear the peaceful Gong rituals that take place in the early morning.
OR other accommodation of your choice
Day 2: Explore Luang Prabang.
- Walk around the Old Quarter (Eat, Shop, etc.)
- Visit the Golden City Temple and/or other Temples of choice
- Check out L’Estranger Books & Tea to see if they are showing any movies that interest you for the week
- Mount Phousi around 4:30 PM to watch the sunset (Bring Bug Spray)
Day 3: Rice Farming Tour (4.5 hour AM tour)
- This Tour will provide you with a hands on experience in the rice paddies. You will learn how rice is put on the table, from start to finish- and it is a lot more involved than one might think! This tour is very interactive and engaging, from planting the seeds in the mud, cutting the rice stalks, tilling the ground with the water buffalo, making sticky rice and much more- plan to get your bare feet muddy!
- The tour is provided through the Living Land Company, and you can also book through Backstreet Academy. Transportation to and from your accommodation is included.
- Night Market in the Old Quarter (Clothing/souvenir/food market)
Day 4: Explore Luang Prabang
- AM Buddhist Monk Walk (Follow the Buddhist Monks on their morning walk throughout the outskirts of Luang Prabang)
- Enjoy Lunch
- Bargain with a Tuk Tuk Driver to take you to Kouzngxi Falls and the Bear Sanctuary around 1pm
- The bear sanctuary is inside the park; the park is less crowded in the later afternoon
- There are no changing facilities/lockers. Wear your swimming attire and bring items you feel comfortable leaving on a picnic bench
Day 5: Explore Luang Prabang
- Ride bikes around Luang Prabang and/or venture into the outskirts of town
- Enjoy Massages from one of the many massage studios, OR other activity of your choice
- Check out Icon Klub or a different bar of choice at night, and then head over to join in on the Bowling Festivities (a tradition in Luang Prabang when the bars close down around 11:30 PM)
Day 6: Explore Luang Prabang
- 9 AM Volunteer at the Big Brother Mouse (1-2 hours), also offered in the evening from 5-7 PM
- A local program set up for locals to learn English from drop-in volunteers
- Cross the Bamboo Bridge & have lunch at Dyen Sabai Restaurant or elsewhere across the bridge
- Even if you choose not to eat across the bridge, or even cross the bridge, at least go to view the bridge
- Check out the bar/restaurant “Utopia” – sand volleyball, drinks, food & lounging on cushions
Day 7: Elephant Village Sanctuary Day Trip & Tad Sae Waterfalls
OR Continue exploring Luang Prabang OR head to Vang Vieng a day early
- The Elephant Village Sanctuary is located just outside of Luang Prabang. While this camp does not meet my ideal expectations because they still allow the riders an option to ride on the elephants back in a chair, it is by far the most ethical camp in Luang Prabang. Request to ride on the elephant without the chair, as the chairs can be very harmful to the elephants. Also, you will find that this day trip is much more expensive than the other trips offered (at about $100 a day for a full day trip, including lunch and transportation), but this is because the elephants are not being overworked during the day with tourists consistently riding on them. While elephant riding is a very debatable topic, I believe that if the elephants are in a non-abusive, healthy environment, then we can look at the positive impacts tourism provides for elephants. Their population is significantly declining and sadly, many people do not see their “use” now that logging is outlawed. In a perfect world, I want elephants to roam free, but in our un-perfect world, I want to help promote safe tourism, where the elephants are at least guaranteed food, acres of land and safety. Steer away from Elephant camps that have people riding on the elephant the entire day, have elephants performing tricks – even as simple as painting, and do not allow their elephants to graze on plants/fruit or have space to roam throughout the day. Always be mindful and do research on animal safety before any interactive animal tour.
Day 8: Travel to Vang Vieng by Bus (Pronounced VANG , V—N)
- Set up bus ticket 1-3 days beforehand with a company on the main street in Luang Prabang – Multiple busses and vans leave 3-5 times a day, even during low season
- Arrive in Vang Vieng, check in at accommodation, sign up for kayaking/other activities, enjoy a late lunch, walk around
- I can only recommend not staying at the Sisavang Guest House
Day 9: Explore Vang Vieng
– River Tubing – In the Tube (Be there by 11:00, no reservations required)
- Visit the Organic Mulberry Farm: E-mail the company to see if you can volunteer for just the day, or bike over to the farm and meet the animals/enjoy lunch without volunteering
- Bike around the outskirts of Vang Vieng to view the beautiful scenery outside of town
Day 10: Kayaking along the Nam Song River
- Sign up at a shop the day before; Buy Bus ticket to Vientiane
- We found kayaking among the beautiful karst mountain formations to be more enjoyable than drinking at the bars all day, but many people enjoy drinking/tubing more. Do what you enjoy most!
Other options in Vang Vieng:
Tham Nam Water Cave & Tubing AND/OR The Tham Phu Kham Cave & Blue Lagoon
(If you do not take part in either of these, you are not missing out, but they are both popular tourist activities in Vang Vieng. I personally was let down with both.)
Day 11: Travel to Vientiane by bus
- Have lunch in Vientiane
- Relax or walk around the city and shop
- Explore the City Night market and watch the sunset by the water
- Accommodation: Dream Home 2 ($23 a night, has a new in-ground pool) or other accommodation of your choice
Day 12: Explore Vientiane
- Walk, bike or taxi to the Patuxay, the Victory Gate of Vientiane built in 1962 to resemble the Arc de Triomphe. Make sure you head all the way to the top to have a 360 view of the city!
Conclusion of Itinerary
I hope you enjoyed Laos as much as I did — At this point, you may be interested in:
- Flying to your country of choice out of Vientiane
- Staying in Laos! Maybe visiting another part of Laos? The Four Thousand Islands, Plain of Jars?
- Taking a bus to a country of your choice (such as Chiang Mai, Thailand)
- For the Adventurer: Taking a taxi to the friendship bridge, doing a land-border crossing, and then taking a bus or taxi to the local bus station, and then taking the local bus or a taxi to the Udon Thani, Thailand Airport (the local bus does not go to the airport, but to a mall, where you will have to then take a short taxi to their airport). This is an adventure and takes about 3 hours, but flight prices drop down to ~$15 per flight from Udon Thani to Chiang Mai. It will cost about $30 total for 2 people to get to the airport this way, with bargaining. I choose this option.
Visa Requirements as of 2015:
If coming from the US, have $35 and $3-5 singles on you (American dollars). There is a small tax on top of the $35 and if you do not pay exact change in US dollars, you will have to go outside to the ATM and pay in Laos currency, and then loose money on the currency transaction because of how the exchange is set up. You can get the Visa right at the airport in Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Have 2 wallet passport photos on you in case they need to staple them to your Visa.
Besides your standard vaccines,
Typhoid is recommended and is good for 5 years (if you are a frequent traveler, it may not be worth risking it)
Tetanus is often recommended before international travel (Or a Tetanus booster, depending when your last vaccine was administered)
Malaria: Vientiane is the only Malaria free area in Laos. Talk to your doctor about whether Malaria pills are right for you (we personally brought them with, but did not take them since we were never bit by mosquitos), and bring bug spray.
It is recommended to visit your physician or a travel doctor before international travel.
** I am not receiving anything for suggesting specific hotel names or activity companies, they simply left a positive impact on me and I personally want to share them with others