Laos is a very beautiful country with lots of mountains, green jungle, and sparkling temples. Two places that can’t be omitted from any Laos itinerary are Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng.
Luang Prabang a beautiful village known for its many temples. Luang Prabang was the capital of the country until 1975 is located in Northern Laos.
Vang Vieng was famous for tubing but after several deadly incidents the government put an end to it. However, this little backpacker town is worth a visit. The surrounding limestone cliffs are spectacular, and it’s a great place for some outdoor adventures such as mountain biking, hiking, and kayaking.
- Mountain biking to the Kuang Si Waterfalls
- Temple hopping (there are so many!)
- Climbing Phu Si Mountain
- Hiking to a secret waterfall with the perfect private pool
- Kayaking on the river and enjoying the wonderful views
For Dutch people (we are) a single entry 30-day visa is issued at the border. You have to pay this visa in dollars, $35 per person.
- Take the slow boat from Huay Xai to get to Luang Prabang; it’s a beautiful 2-day trip over the Mekong river. You spend the night on the shore, in the village Pak Beng.
- Don’t take a night bus from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng. You’ll miss the stunning scenery, and you won’t get much sleep anyway because the road is very bumpy!
- You can easily travel from Vang Vieng to your next destination, be it to Vientiane (the capital of Laos) or further South. There are busses and minivans leaving to several destinations daily, and there are plenty of agents selling tickets in Vang Vieng.
The exchange rate at the moment of the trip (April 2015):
- €1 = 9000LAK
- $1 = 8000LAK
- Arrive in Luang Prabang (by slow boat from Huay Xai if you have the time!).
- Check into Sengphet Guesthouse
- Stroll over the night market
- Climb Phu Si Mountain and admire the sunset
- Have dinner at one of the river view restaurants
- Wake up early and buy sandwiches (1 for now and 1 or 2 for lunch) and a fruit smoothie at the food stalls next to the roundabout.
- Hike a mountain bike at one of the rental shops along the river
- Cycle to the Kuang Si Waterfalls
- Chill out at the waterfalls, have a swim and eat your sandwich
- Cycle back to Luang Prabang
- Support the Red Cross and relax your tired muscles by going to the sauna
- Chill out at Utopia (you can also get some nice food here!)
Have breakfast at Joma (please note this is more expensive than the delicious baguettes at the food stalls next to the roundabout! If you are on a budget, restrict yourself to 1 delicious peanut butter ice cream but be warned, you’ll want more!
- Explore the many temples of Luang Prabang
- If you have time, visit the UXO museum and learn about the effects of the Vietnam War in Laos.
- Book a minivan ticket to Vang Vieng
- Try different snacks and foods at the night market
- Get up early, but breakfast, lunch, and snacks
- Take the minivan to Vang Vieng (most of the time you’ll be picked up by tuk-tuk from your hotel and driven to the bus terminal where you’ll change to the minivan)
- Enjoy the stunning scenery along the way to Vang Vieng (take some cinnarizine if you get sick in cars, the road is beautiful but anything but straight)
- Arrive in Vang Vieng and check into the Boutique Hotel
- Book a hiking and kayaking tour at Boutique Hotel
- Have dinner at one of the many restaurants in Vang Vieng while watching Friends!
- Have breakfast at Boutique hotel and be ready to leave at 9 am
- Pick up at hotel for kayaking trip
- First stop is tubing in a cave
- Then it’s time for lunch
- After lunch, you’ll be driven to the kayaking spot
- Kayak your way back to Vang Vieng and enjoy the limestone cliffs surrounding you
- Have dinner and a beer at the Aussie bar
- Watch more Friends in one of the bars of Vang Vieng
- Have breakfast at Boutique hotel and be ready to leave at 9 am
- Pick up at hotel for hiking trip
- The hike takes about 5 hours, including a long stop for lunch and swimming
- We hiked in April when it was very hot
- Water was included in the tour price, and we got 2 1,5 liter bottles each, these were almost empty when we got back (yes, you’ll sweat a lot)
- We were the only two people hiking and hiked with a guide. Our guide spoke perfect English and told us a lot about the environment and the way of life in Laos. He also cooked us a delicious BBQ lunch at the perfect pick nick spot: a secluded waterfall with private pool. One of my most treasured memories…
- I highly recommend this activity; it’s beautiful!
- When you get back to Vang Vieng, you’ll be very tired and don’t want to do anything but chill, have a well-deserved beer and watch more Friends.
- Leave to your next destination, we went to the capital Vientiane, but I’ve heard great things about the Central part of Laos and the 4000 Islands in the South.
Where to Stay in Luang Prabang, Laos
Best Budget Hostel in Luang Prabang, Laos – DownTown Backpackers Hostel
Located in Luang Prabang, 201 m from National Museum, Night Market is 300 m from DownTown Backpackers Hostel, and Mount Phousy is 400 m away. The nearest airport is Luang Prabang International Airport, 3.1 km from DownTown Backpackers Hostel.
A flat-screen TV with cable channels, as well as an iPod docking station is provided. You will find a kettle in the room. The rooms have a shared bathroom with a bidet and shower, with a hairdryer provided. You can play pool at the hostel.
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Luang Prabang, Laos – Le Bel Air Boutique Resort
Located along the banks of the Nam Khan River is Le Bel Air Boutique Resort. Le Bel Air Boutique Resort is a 20-minute walk from the city center. A free shuttle service to the town center is available. Guests enjoy free round-trip airport transfer.
Le Bel Air’s air-conditioned rooms offer river views. Le Bel Air Boutique Resort features garden view seating areas and free Wi-Fi in the lobby area. A bicycle is also provided.
Best Luxury Hostel in Luang Prabang, Laos – Sofitel
Housed within a French colonial fort, Sofitel Luang Prabang is built on a heritage site in Laos’ former royal capital. Boasting colonial charm and modern luxuries.
The center of the property has a lush garden with local plants, a rice plantation, and a pond. A cocktail is offered on arrival. Natural spa therapies and massage treatments are featured at the spa. Guests can attend a cooking class or experience culture tours arranged by the Leisure Concierge service.
Sofitel Luang Prabang is a convenient 5-minute drive from the city center. Luang Prabang International Airport is 10 minutes’ drive away.
Where to Stay in Vang Vieng, Laos
Best Budget Hostel in Vang Vieng, Laos – Chillao Youth Hostel
Located in Vang Vieng, 400 m from Post Office. Organic Mulbery Farm Cafe is 501 m from Chillao Youth Hostel, and Vang Vieng Hospital is 600 m away.
Chillao Youth Hostel features air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant. You can play pool at the hostel. The hostel also provides bike rental.
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Vang Vieng, Laos – Champalao The Villa
Champalao The Villa is approximately a 7-minute walk from the town center of Vang Vieng and 5-minute ride from both Nam Song River and local bus terminal.
All rooms feature wooden floors and have air conditioning as well as a private balcony with garden views. It offers simple yet cozy accommodation to ensure guests a comfortable stay. En suite bathrooms come with shower facilities.
Best Luxury Hotel in Vang Vieng, Laos – Riverside Boutique Resort
Located on the banks of the Nam Song River, Riverside Boutique Resort, Vang Vieng is a 3-hr drive from Vientiane and 5-hr drive from Luang Prabang.
Features elegant French colonial architecture and a stylish ethnic decor. Guests can relax by the pool or enjoy a fresh cup of coffee from Bolaven Plateau at the restaurant.
Offering stunning views of the limestone mountains, Restaurant du Crabe d’Or serves authentic Laos dishes, as well as traditional Asian and French cuisines. A list of French and Chilean wine is available.
About the Writer
Lotte was born and raised in the Netherlands and is trying to explore as much of the world as possible! Up until now she lived in Barcelona, London, and Amsterdam and visited 32 countries.
She has always loved travel, but in 2015 a lifelong dream came true: a 5-month trip around the world, it was the best thing she ever did! That is why upon returning in the Netherlands Lotte and her husband Frank immediately started saving up again to go on another trip. This trip starts in February 2017, and this time they don’t have a return ticket and will be traveling until the money runs out. You can follow their adventures on Phenomenal Globe.