The Best of Laos in 10 Days | Travel Itinerary and Guide
The 10 Day Laos Travel Itinerary
Laos is a very beautiful country, which is still often overlooked by visitors to South-East Asia. Many tourists choose to spend the majority of their trip exploring its more popular neighbours such as Thailand and Vietnam. However, if you are looking for somewhere less crowded and touristy, I’d highly recommend heading to Laos. At the moment it’s still relatively quiet, but I’m sure it will start to increase in popularity over the next few years.
It’s well known for its beautiful nature, delicious Laotian food, and unique culture, as well as French colonial architecture throughout its cities. There’s plenty to do and see in Laos, and it’s a great budget travel destination. In this article, I’m going to share with you my top recommended places to visit in Laos that you definitely should add to your travel itinerary, to help you plan for your upcoming trip.
Day 1 – 3 | Vientiane
The best place to start your exploration of Laos is in Vientiane, the capital of Laos.
There are no long haul direct flights into Laos, however, Vientiane’s Wattay International Airport connects travelers with Bangkok and Chiang Mai by air. Alternatively, many travelers choose to use buses, which can connect you with many cities throughout South-East Asia and the other top places to visit within Laos. Vientiane is reasonably easy to navigate by foot or cycling. Beware of the sometimes over-inflated tuk-tuk prices for tourists.
When you arrive here, I’d suggest staying for about three nights, to help you acclimatize if you’ve just arrived in this part of the world. There is a reasonable amount of attractions to see within the city, but after a few days, you’ll be itching to explore the country further afield. In Vientiane, you will find plenty of hotels, hostels, and apartments to fit all budgets.
I would recommend the Vientiane Golden Sun Hotel if you are looking for somewhere lovely but inexpensive to stay. If you would like more of a holiday resort, consider the Landmark Mekong Riverside Hotel, which has a beautiful outdoor pool and spa onsite. Alternatively, you can find a bed in a hostel for only $3-4!
The hostel that I chose myself was NT Backpacker Hostel. It was very nice, clean and a small breakfast was included in the price of the stay, which was only $4 a night.
On your first day in the city, I’d recommend seeing some of the cultural highlights, such as the Wat Si Saket. This Buddhist temple is located on Lan Xang Road and previously held the Emerald Buddha. Temple features over 10,000 Buddha Statues.
Following on from this, admire the Wat Si Muang built in 1563. I loved the incredible architecture of the buildings of Vientiane, and witnessing these monuments is the perfect way to start your trip.
Later on in the day, visit the COPE Visitor’s Center. This museum shows the country’s history regarding the Vietnam War, and the tragic bombing campaigns the country has experienced. It’s a very educational and eye-opening center, and well worth supporting their cause. Finally, finish off your day by seeing the Pha That Luang stupa, which you may recognize as the landmark on your currency.
The following day, enjoy visiting the Patuxay Monument, also called the Victory Gate, and spend some time people-watching in the nearby park. One of the highlights of Vientiane for me was the fantastic street food, and I’d recommend having dinner one night at the Anou Market. Alternatively, take a trip to the night market along the Mekong Delta, which has an extensive selection of stalls and was one of my favorite markets in Laos. If you have been missing good coffee on your trip so far, you’ll be pleased to know Laos has a great café culture.
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Day 4 – 6 | Vang Vieng
Next up on our itinerary is the time to move on to Vang Vieng. It is the place where I’ve seen some of the most magical sunsets while in South-East Asia.
Vang Vieng is a more relaxed town with magnificent mountains and green nature surrounding it. From Vientiane, expect the 80 miles (130 km) journey to take about four hours by bus or van. The cost of this journey is usually around $7 and you can book it through 12go.Asia website. The road is very scenic so make sure to look out the window and enjoy the ride.
The town is located near the Nam Song River, north of Vientiane. It’s known for its amazing limestone formations and is the perfect location for active adventures.
There are plenty of affordable guesthouses to stay in here. One of the greatest options is the Riverside Boutique Resort with its stunning mountain views from the swimming pool. If you would like to go for the cheapest option and sleep in a hostel than Chillao Hostel will be a great option that costs less than $3 a night.
I’d recommend you to spend at least three days in Vang Vieng, especially if you want to explore the area properly and spend time biking or hiking in nature.
Some of the highlights of my time in Vang Vieng included going tubing and kayaking along the river. Tubing used to be the most popular party activity among the backpackers. After several deadly accidents, it’s not that big as it used to be but it’s still a very nice thing to do and enjoy Laos’ beautiful nature scenery.
I’d also recommend taking a hiking trip and exploring the nearby caves. Tham Nam is the most popular one to visit in the area, and if you are visiting during the rainy reason, you can even tube into the cave. The stalagmite and stalactite formations are terrific inside!
Don’t forget to visit the Blue Lagoon & Tham Phu Kham Cave. This lagoon stays the most blue throughout the whole year and jumping in it is a great activity to do on a hot day. You can even go zip lining in this area.
The best way to sightsee in Vang Vieng is to rent a bike, which your accommodation may offer. This will allow you the freedom to explore the areas around the town while admiring the surrounding scenery and admiring the stunning landscapes. After a busy day exploring, make sure you enjoy some of the local delicacies, and of course, you’ll find the most delicious food at different stalls throughout the town.
Day 7 – 10 | Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang was hands down one of my favorite places that I got a chance to visit while in Laos. The city is located even further north than Vang Vieng and it’s included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The journey is 113 miles (183 km) between Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang, and most travelers again opt for a van or taking a bus. Expect the trip to cost somewhere around $10 and last between five to six hours. The road is very bumpy and curvy but again it’s all worth it for those window views.
To make the most of your time in Luang Prabang, I’d recommend allowing at least four days to explore the city, which will also allow some time to relax. My top choices for budget-friendly accommodation in the area include Singharat Guesthouse or for an even cheaper option, I highly recommend the City Backpackers Hostel, the price for which was also around $3.
Luang Prabang will amaze you with its incredible architecture, with many nods within the designs to its French colonial heritage. The whole atmosphere is so unique and amazing that I can’t wait to return there again in the future.
There are many temples to see in the city, and my favorite was the Wat Chom Si shrine. You will find it at the top of Mount Phou Si, overlooking the city. It is the most popular place to visit to watch the sunset, so make sure to arrive early to get the best spot.
Another very interesting thing that you can watch in Luang Prabang is the morning alms-giving ceremony. It takes place every day during the sunrise time when local people give food to the monks. Don’t forget that it’s a part of Lao culture and history, so be respectful and only watch quietly from afar.
If you enjoy seeing the variety of designs within the temples in South-East Asia, you’ll appreciate the Wat Xieng Thong temple. There are over twenty buildings on the property, and it’s well worth exploring to admire the elaborate designs.
For travelers looking for more active adventures, you’ll love exploring the Pak Ou Caves, which are usually incorporated into hiking trips. If you love chasing waterfalls, make sure to take a trip to Kuang Si Waterfall. It was for sure one of the top waterfalls that I visited in South-East Asia and at least a 3-hour trip there is well worth it.
Speaking of food, a trip to Luang Prabang is not complete without exploring the night market, which opens every evening from 5 to 10 pm. It’s a great place to have an inexpensive dinner. Pick up a Beer Lao and enjoy strolling around the stalls to pick up some souvenirs for your friends and family back home.
No matter what you do, don’t leave Laos without trying the coconut pancakes. They are very simply made out of 3 ingredients but yet so delicious. After trying them for the first time, I was having them every single day, even twice a day.
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Top Travel Tips for Exploring Laos
Laos is an incredible country to explore, and I loved my time there. I want to share with you a few of my top travel tips for visiting Laos, to help make your next trip a great one!
- As tempting as it may be, I would recommend not visiting the elephant parks in Laos, especially taking part in any experiences involving riding them. Elephants are extremely endangered, with only approximately 800 left in Laos.
- If you have more time on your trip, consider taking a slow boat journey for a few days. These usually travel between Huay-Xai and then finish in Luang Prabang. You’ll enjoy the local hospitality while admiring the countryside from the waters. You can also extend your trip and continue down south to Don Det & 4000 islands.
- Accommodation of any type is generally pretty cheap in Laos, so this may be a great country to splurge in. If you are doing a tour of a few countries, know that your money will go much further here!
- Food is a little more expensive here than in Thailand, however by avoiding overpriced Western food and enjoying local street food, you can eat very well on a budget.
- Tuk-tuks and taxis are known to increase their prices for tourists, so stick to biking, walking, or local buses.
- When traveling between cities, consider upgrading to the VIP buses. These are air-conditioned buses which will offer you a little more comfort on your journey and won’t cost a lot.
- Between October and April is the best time to visit Laos. It’s hot and dry during this time, although being the high season you can expect higher accommodation prices and more tourists.
- If you are hiking independently, always stay on marked paths. It’s best to always try and join a tour if you are traveling alone, or buddy up with other travelers. That’s another reason why I love staying in hostels so much.
- For anyone planning to do any of the active adventures on offer, such as tubing and biking, ensure you have adequate travel insurance that covers these types of activities.
Laos is one of the hidden gems of South-East Asia and is the perfect country to add on to a trip to Thailand, Cambodia, or Vietnam. It’s extremely manageable to travel between the highlights of the country, and the bus system is cheap and efficient to use.
Are you planning a trip to Laos? Let me know in the comments below what you are most looking forward to seeing! Having said that, don’t forget to Pin this 10 Day Laos Travel Itinerary, for ready reference in the future.
If you enjoyed reading this 10 Day Laos Itinerary and Travel Guide, you might want to check out some other 7 Day Travel Guides and Itineraries, for other Asian / South East Asian destinations as well.
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- The 7 Day Myanmar Road Trip Itinerary
- 7 Day Road Trip to Bhutan – The Last Shangri La
- One Week in Kerala – God’s Own Country
- The Epic 7 Day Leh – Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary
- One Week in Cambodia – Travel Guide and Itinerary
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Hello there, my name is Diana! I’m a Travel Blogger at Travelling with Diana, busy exploring our beautiful world and building my home in Bulgaria. I share travel guides and very helpful tips to inspire you to travel more. My goal is to show you that you don’t need a travel agency to explore our magical planet.