Searching for the perfect Laos Itinerary? If you only have 1 week in Laos, in this post you can find insider tips and a comprehensive 7 days in Laos itinerary designed for first-time visitors.
If you were to ask any backpackers who traveled through Southeast Asia, most of the time, you’ll never hear about Laos from them. This landlocked country sandwiched between Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, and China is often skipped because of its lack of tourism promotion. But today, we’re gonna give this small country all the attention in this 1 week in Laos Itinerary, a 7 Days in Laos Travel Adventure.
Laos is the most heavily bombed country per capita in modern history, with over 2 million tons of bombs dropped by the United States during the Secret War. There are still a lot of remains of aftereffects from the war in the country. Don’t worry we’ll talk about that, read on.
We’ll start this Laos itinerary in Luang Prabang, as there’s an international airport here. From Luang Prabang, we’ll proceed down to Vang Vieng before arriving at the capital, Vientiane. Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents (skip directly to the info you're looking for)
- 1 Laos Itinerary Day 1 – Luang Prabang
- 2 Day 2 – Luang Prabang
- 3 Day 3 – Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
- 4 Day 4 – Vang Vieng
- 5 Day 5 – Vang Vieng
- 6 Day 6 – Vang Vieng to Vientiane
- 7 Day 7 – Vientiane
- 8 Wrapping It Up – 1 week in Laos Itinerary!
Laos Itinerary Day 1 – Luang Prabang
Getting to Your Accommodation
The main transportation in Laos is tuk-tuk. If you prefer to walk all the way from the airport, like me and my friends did, it will take an hour.
But this one hour will give you an impression of the locals’ way of life in Laos. Luang Prabang is the cleanest town in Laos. Watch locals grilling their BBQ sticks after their work, kids cycling outside the road, dogs running around.
Everything seems peaceful here and kinda reminds me of how my parents’ lives were like decades ago.
Visit Royal Palace Museum
Built over a century ago, the Royal Palace was taken over by the government in 1975 and opened to the public as a museum in 1995.
The entrance fee to this museum is 30,000 Kip (around $3.75). No photographing allowed, all bags must be left outside in the lockers, no short pants and shoes allowed inside the building.
After your visit, don’t forget to see the Royal Cars Exhibition right beside the building. The entrance is free and you get to see the cars used by the officials in the past decades.
Watch Sunset in Mount Phousi
Mount Phousi is the best place in Luang Prabang to watch the sunset. Unfortunately, the only hours when visitors will hike up Mount Phousi is during the sunset hours. So you will have to squeeze with other visitors to enjoy the sunset.
Plus, the peak itself isn’t big, so don’t expect too much or you might be let down. But rest assured that the sunset view on Mount Phousi is out of this world.
The entrance fee to Mount Phousi is 20,000 Kip ($2.50). My advice is to visit around 5 pm to secure your spot at the edge of the peak before more visitors come up.
Dinner in Luang Prabang Night Market
Luang Prabang Night Market is the largest night market in Laos after Vientiane night market. Every day at 5 pm, the street instantly got sealed off and the night market becomes alive.
Looking for gifts and souvenirs? You can definitely get them here, there are so many choices that’ll leave you unable to decide. But if you’re visiting Vientiane soon, I recommend buying your souvenirs there instead, because it’s cheaper in Vientiane.
The highlight of Luang Prabang Night Market is the variety of food. Most of the street foods are grilled meat sticks and smoked meats. And it’s surprisingly cheaper than I expected.
If you’re a vegan, no worries. There are a few stalls of vegetarian buffets at only 20,000 Kip per person.
Spend at least one full night here to take everything in.
You might also like: 10 Unique Travel Destinations in Southeast Asia
Where to Stay in Luang Prabang
Budget Friendly Accomodation Option:
Khammany Backpackers Hostel
I had a wonderful stay in Khammany Backpackers, while it is located 10 minutes from the night market by foot. The staff was super friendly and was very willing to help even though they only speak basic English.
The beds were clean and the managers told us where to get the best exchange rate for US Dollars to Lao Kip. (It’s right outside of the night market)
Mid-Range Accommodation Option:
Sok Villa Namkhan River
This gorgeous newly renovated building boasts comfortable balconies with fabulous views of the river. Very large, immaculate rooms with beds so comfortable you’ll think twice about getting up. The rooms come equipped with kitchenettes and everything you would find in a classic apartment.
Luxury Accommodation Option:
Sofitel Luang Prabang
This French colonial fort built on a heritage site is the epitome of luxury. There is no other accommodation that can compare in Luang Prabang.
Day 2 – Luang Prabang
Watch The Morning Alms Giving Ceremony
The traditional Buddhist morning Alms Giving Ceremony, also known as Tak Bat is one of the holiest ceremonies in Buddhist culture. It takes place every morning as soon as the sun rises in the morning.
It’s a ceremony where monks from every temple walk into the streets, collecting foods for the day from the public. However, it’s recently abused by foreigners, so know the rules if you’re planning a visit. Ask your hostel manager if you’re not sure.
Watch the ceremony from a distance, and never use flash photography.
Hike in Kuang Si Falls
Kuang Si Falls is the most famous attraction in Luang Prabang. Located 40 minutes from the town by tuk-tuk, Kuang Si Falls will cost you around 200,000 Kip for a return trip.
Alternatively, you can rent a bike for 80,000 Kip per day and ride it there, with fuel excluded. I wouldn’t recommend renting a motorbike here because it’s much more expensive compared to other towns.
The entrance fee is 20,000 Kip per person. Right after the entrance, you’ll pass by a bear sanctuary, where the bears are rescued from ‘bile farms’. Feel free to contribute by buying the merchandises or donating in the donation boxes.
You’re allowed to swim in Kuang Si Falls, so don’t forget your swimwear. The tiffany-blue water will draw out your urge to swim. Changing rooms are provided on site as well.
On the way back, stop by at the Buffalo Dairy Farm and buy their ice cream! You’ll love it I promise.
Relaxing in Utopia Bar & Restaurant
Utopia Bar & Restaurant is the most famous place for backpackers to escape to the crowd, while hungry for a drink.
It’s also the best place to meet other fellow travelers too. The environment is so quiet and close-to-nature, that you could literally spend a whole afternoon here reading your favorite book.
It’s open from 8 am to 11.30 pm every day. Pretty hardcore working hours, huh?
Have your dinner here and head to the night market for the second round of amazing street foods!
Check out our ultimate guide to Luang Prabang with the top things to do in the city!
Day 3 – Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
Morning Visit to Pak Ou Caves
Pak Ou Caves is located as far as Kuang Si Falls from Luang Prabang town but in the opposite direction. I wouldn’t recommend doing them both on the same day as you might get tired from the bumpy tuk-tuk ride.
The caves are located at the intersection point of Mekong River and Nam Ou River. It takes around 40 minutes to ride by tuk-tuk to get there, at the same price as Kuang Si Falls.
There are mainly two caves in Pak Ou Caves, with Tham Ting being the lower cave and Tham Theung being the upper one. You’ll find most of the Buddhist statues in Tham Theung. Rent a torch before entering because there’s no light built in there.
The entrance fee is 20,000 Kip per person.
Getting From Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
Book your ride to Vang Vieng from your hostel manager or any travel agency offices. The ride costs around 100,000 Kip per person and takes 4 hours.
Chances are, you’ll be squeezing for space in the mini-van.
Note: You can also book a shared or private van tour from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng on GetYourGuide.
Day 4 – Vang Vieng
Morning Hike in Pha Poak Viewpoint
Pha Poak Viewpoint is probably one of the most physically-challenging short hikes in Laos. It takes around 40 minutes by foot to get to the entrance and another 15-20 minutes to hike up to the peak.
The viewpoint offers a unique view, with one side facing the Vang Vieng town and another side facing enormous limestone karsts.
Embracing the strong wind while holding on to the red flag on the peak definitely makes you feel like you’re on top of the world.
The entrance fee per person is 10,000 Kip.
Tubing in Nam Song River
Tubing is one of the most popular things to do in Vang Vieng. And it’s also one of the cheapest among all activities.
The operator will usually leave you with a tube and nothing else, with a guide in front. All you do is floating on the tube on the river and let the river flow brings you forward.
It’s a very relaxing activity but you should definitely apply sunscreen before that. I got sunburnt heavily from my stubbornness.
Most of the packages include free zip-line and whiskey bucket but check with your operator. There are numerous operators in Vang Vieng, with hundreds of tubes floating on the river on busy days.
Click on this article to learn more: Tubing in Vang Vieng Comprehensive Guide.
Hot Pot Dinner in Vang Vieng Night Market
Every town in Laos has a night market, and that includes Vang Vieng. Although it’s not as big as the one in Luang Prabang, there are plenty of food choices here.
Hot pot dinner is one of them. The broth is full of aroma and flavor, and it comes with pieces of raw meat slices and a handful of greens, which you’ll have to cook it yourself.
One meal costs around 25,000 Kip per person. The best way to enjoy it is to have a beer beside and enjoy the dinner slowly after your exhausting day.
Day 5 – Vang Vieng
Rent a Motorcycle
Renting a motorcycle in Vang Vieng is much cheaper compared to Luang Prabang, and there’s an option for half-day rental.
With the motorcycle, you can basically go wherever you want. There are plenty of picturesque hikes around the town which are worth your visit.
A half-day rental from 7 am to 8 pm cost around 40,000 Kip only.
Hike Pha Poung Kham Cliff Viewpoint
Pha Poung Kham Cliff Viewpoint is the best hike I’ve ever taken in my life. It’s very similar to the famous Nam Xay Viewpoint, but with significantly fewer crowds.
There’s a hut at the peak, offering a panoramic view of the surrounding farms and limestone karsts. It took me some time to actually accept the fact that I’m on planet Earth. It’s just way too beautiful.
It’s a little tricky to get there but you can follow Google Maps for this one.
You’ll need 30 minutes or more of hiking up there, and the entrance fee is 10,000 Kip per person. It’s much more physically challenging than Pha Poak Viewpoint.
Ride to Blue Lagoon 3
Compared to Blue Lagoon 1, Blue Lagoon 3 has much fewer crowds and better facilities along with cheaper rates for rentals.
I recommend visiting here after your exhausting hike, as dipping into the cold water here definitely refreshes you up.
It takes around an hour ride from Vang Vieng town to get to Blue Lagoon 3, and the road is a little tricky. Don’t hesitate to ask the locals for direction when you’re lost.
Dinner at Victor’s Place
Victor’s Place is the ultimate restaurant in Vang Vieng. During our 3 days in Vang Vieng, we had 6 meals in this restaurant. Pretty ridiculous, right?
But that’s true, the food here is just too delicious. The chef prepared it with all his heart and you can see it from the taste and the way they serve their dishes.
It’s open all day till late night, with all kinds of cuisines from Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and even Western cuisines. All of them are nice, I’ve tried them all.
Check out this post for more things to do in Vang Vieng!
Day 6 – Vang Vieng to Vientiane
Morning Visit to Tham Chang Cave
Tham Chang, the most popular cave attraction in Vang Vieng Is located 30 minutes from the town by foot.
The compound is a very well-developed tourism site. Because of its near location, it welcomes thousands of tourists every day, especially Korean tourists.
Vang Vieng is super popular to Korean tourists, I didn’t know why.
You’ll pass through the Orange Bridge with a toll fee of 10,000 Kip per person for a return trip. To enter the cave it’s another 15,000 Kip per person.
A long staircase leads all the way up to the cave, where you’ll find all sorts of legends and structures. There are elephant structures, monk’s chair and a hole where the ‘naga’ lives.
Tap the stalactite three times and make a wish.
Vang Vieng to Vientiane
It’s time to leave Vang Vieng and head for the capital of Laos, Vientiane. The ride costs around 100,000 Kip per person.
Day 7 – Vientiane
Pha That Luang & Patuxay Monument
That Luang Temple is the landmark of Vientiane city, along with Patuxay Monument. It’s located around 1 hour by foot from the tourism area.
On the way, you can pay a visit to Patuxay Monument, one of the most photographed monuments in Laos.
That Luang Temples is a 44-meters tall Buddhist stupa covered with gold. It has undergone several reconstructions due to foreign invasions to Laos.
Vientiane Night Market
Vientiane Night Market is the largest in entire Laos, it’ll take you an hour or so to explore the whole thing.
Here, you’ll find the cheapest prices for all kinds of souvenirs, gifts, shirts, clothing, just about anything.
But street foods are not much of a choice here, as there are only a few stalls of them.
This is the perfect place if you’re going to buy some souvenirs before leaving the country, best price guaranteed, after negotiations.
Wrapping It Up – 1 week in Laos Itinerary!
That’s it for your 7 Days in Laos itinerary. I hope you enjoyed reading and that this article helps you in planning your trip to Laos. Feel free to leave a comment below on how you feel about this article.
This is a guest post by: Yen of Swingabroad.com
Yen’s bio: Yen is a full-time university student who always takes full advantages of his holidays to travel for new experiences. He’s been to New Zealand for Working Holiday before having his road trip, volunteered in Kathmandu, Nepal and exchanged in California along with several backpacking trips through Southeast Asia. Having spent months in foreign countries, he gives in-depth travel tips and guides in his travel blog, Swing Abroad.
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