“Sa Bai Dee!”
This Laotian greeting nonetheless echoes in my ears every so often. Laos is a particular place in my coronary heart – it’s the place I cruised down a phenomenal river on a tube, the place I fell in love, and the place I spotted how a lot I’ve modified in 5 years as a traveler.
I beloved the dramatic mountains, the luxurious jungles, the pleasant folks, and the laid again vibe. I figured it’s time for me to place collectively an epic itinerary for you with the most effective issues to do in Laos, ranging from the south to the north (which is what I did, however it may be simply reversed!):
Don Det (4000 Islands)
Once you first enter Laos, you’ll shortly understand that every little thing slows down. Time appears to have misplaced its which means there, and it’s particularly obvious in Don Det, a hippie heaven simply north of the Cambodian border.
Southern Laos receives far fewer vacationers than its quick rising Northern aspect, and most vacationers listed below are discovered lazing in a hammock outdoors of modest bungalows constructed by the river, soaking in silence. It’s the right begin to your Laos journey!
Some could say that there’s not a lot to do in Don Det, but that’s not true. You’ll be able to go for kayaking journeys that take off each day within the morning, hire a bicycle and get misplaced within the villages, head to Don Khong to take a look at the waterfalls, and naturally, tube your approach down the Mekong River with new mates you’ve simply met. It’s also house to the beautiful Li Phi Waterfalls! I beloved Don Det, the truth is I’d say that it was my favourite place in Laos.
From Don Det, take a Three-hour bus to Pakse, the most important southern metropolis and a significant transport hub in Laos. You’re more likely to arrive in Pakse within the afternoon, so it’s greatest to spend the remainder of the day stress-free, finding out a bike rental, and preparing for an unimaginable journey within the Bolaven Plateau.
In case you are trying some some off the crushed path adventures in Laos, think about doing the multi-day motorcycle loop around the Bolaven Plateau. The surroundings blew me away with lush and delightful crops, big butterflies, and ample waterfalls (I noticed a complete of 5 however there have been so many extra!). It’s greatest achieved in a bunch, however it’s also utterly potential to do it solo, so long as you might be assured and cozy on a bike.
Additionally simply on the outskirts of Pakse, Wat Phu is a powerful Khmer temple that jogs my memory of a miniature model of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, although it was really constructed within the seventh century, approach earlier than Angkor Wat.
Wat Phu doesn’t see as many vacationers, although, so it’s a pleasant change of ambiance. This can make a pleasant day journey from Pakse, simply ensure to pile on sunscreen as there’s little or no shade!
The capital of Laos is surprisingly quiet and laid-back. There’s truthfully not a ton to do in Vientiane, although when you’re heading to Thailand after and wish to spend greater than 30 days there, it’s the right place to kind out your 60-day visa. There are a couple of temples value trying out, such because the golden Pha That Luang, and the Wat Si Saket.
There’s additionally a mural in a hostel there painted by yours actually. Test it out!
Tranquility is again in Vang Vieng, now that guidelines and laws are imposed on the as soon as lethal (no kidding, as greater than 20 folks died from drowning, leaping into shallow waters, and drug overdose yearly) tubing that was notoriously common amongst backpackers. There are actually extra group vacationers, which has resulted in greater accommodations and eating places.
What this all means is that the river is now much less occupied, and the agricultural, off-beat locations that group excursions by no means go can be found for discovery. Right here are some things to do if you find yourself right here:
Tubing or Kayaking
It’s a distinctive technique to spend your day, and you’ll nonetheless take beer together with you whereas taking within the surroundings as you float.
Lease a tube, seize a beer, go alone or with a couple of folks, and let the river take you from the highest of the river to city. If you wish to make it lively, think about kayaking as a substitute of tubing. There are nonetheless a couple of stops alongside the best way, together with a well-liked Irish bar. If you wish to keep away from the crowds, think about going within the early morning. The climate can be way more forgiving, too. Go away your whole useful belongings behind, or carry a dry bag with you. I’d carry only a GoPro and a few free change!
Vang Vieng is a superb place to rock climb, whether or not you’re a first-timer or an skilled climber. This space and others round it are getting increasingly common with the climbing neighborhood.
Lease a bike or a bicycle and get out of city. You can be surrounded by lush greens, stunning rice paddy fields, and quiet villages inside minutes. Take a look at the Tham Phu Kham Cave and Blue Lagoon in your journey. Each are attractive!
From Vang Vieng, take a bus to Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Web site. It is a spotlight of Laos for a lot of vacationers, and lots of people find yourself staying longer than meant, so depart room for serendipity:
Kuang Si Waterfalls
An icon simply outdoors town, Kuang Si Waterfalls are beautiful and SO value seeing it in particular person (the water actually is that blue!). In case you are pretty assured and cozy on a bike, you possibly can hire one and get there by yourself.
Minivans and Tuk-Tuks are additionally obtainable to take you there. From the doorway, it’s a small hike as much as the waterfalls that may take you previous rescued black bears hanging out on the sanctuary. It is going to solely be a couple of minutes earlier than you begin listening to the water. The world is filled with vacationers for many of the day, so think about going early within the morning and attempt to be the primary particular person in if you wish to keep away from the crowds. To get a panoramic view of the waterfalls from excessive up, proceed your hike to the (not so) secret waterfalls.
Whereas the strict 11pm curfew is imposed on all companies (every little thing shuts down at 11:30pm), curiously, a bowling alley is open all night time. It’s the place everybody goes when every little thing else shuts down for the night time. The bowling alley is a enjoyable place to hang around and meet fellow vacationers when you’re feeling the occasion vibe.
That is Pousibily (see what I did there?!) the most effective spot in Luang Prabang for sundown. It’s a leisure hike up with a temple on the highest of the mountain. Whereas you’ll have to share the spot with others, the 360 diploma view of Luang Prabang and the gorgeous Mekong River is well worth the squeeze.
Take a Four-hour bus journey from Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw, a small city with fairly actually nothing to do. It’s a quiet, laid again village that’s excellent for stress-free. In off-season, a spacious bungalow subsequent to the river may price as little as $Three. You may also take a Three-Four hour stroll to one of many Three smaller villages shut by and spend an evening at a neighborhood homestay, and expertise the true Laotian village life.
This might be a pleasant ending to your Laos journey, earlier than taking a 2-day boat to northern Thailand (or if you’re coming from Thailand utilizing this methodology, Huay Xai shall be your very first cease in Laos!). A well-liked exercise to do in Huay Xai is The Gibbon Experience, the place you get to spend a couple of days zip-lining within the jungle, with a chance to remain in a treehouse and witnessing the gibbons of their pure habitat. To be sincere I didn’t strive it, however everybody I met who did gave it rave critiques.
It’s a great technique to spend a while with nature and contribute to forest preservation on the similar time.
I hope the following pointers helped you to plan a Laos itinerary with among the well-loved spots, and some beneath the radar ones. For extra itineraries like this, try our Thailand backpacker route, Vietnam route planner, Cambodia itinerary, Myanmar itinerary, and Philippines guides!