Are you planning to go backpacking and touring Southeast Asia? Don’t miss Laos! Laos seems to be the neglected child of the countries of Southeast Asia, but it’s actually fantastic. You will find gigantic karst mountains, many (undiscovered) caves, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Asia and few tourists. What else do you want? Let’s go! In this article I give you two a Laos itinerary twice for 2 weeks or longer.
1. Laos itinerary: Thailand to Vietnam
Huay Xai ➜ Luang Prabang ➜ Vang Vieng ➜ Luang Prabang ➜ Nong Khiaw ➜ Muang Ngoi Neua ➜ Muang Khua ➜ Dien Bien Phu
With this travel route through Laos, you mainly visit the beautiful north of the country. Laos can be perfectly combined with a trip through Thailand and Vietnam. That is why you travel with this route from the north of Thailand to the north of Vietnam.
Check out this awesome Thailand itinerary for 5 weeks.
This border town is the start of the journey through Laos. You can easily arrange an organized trip from Chiang Mai or from Pai to Luang Prabang where you spend the night in villages (in Chiang Khong and Pak Beng). From Huay Xai you take the slowboat over the Mekong to Luang Prabang. The entire trip takes 3 days and is a really great experience! If you want, you can also arrange this trip yourself. Then do the famous Gibbon Experience in the town of Huay Xai.
Once in Luang Prabang you can enjoy what the city has to offer. Including the Kuang Si waterfall (according to some the most beautiful in all of Asia), temples and more.
After Luang Prabang it’s very nice to continue to the beautiful surroundings of Vang Vieng. A few years ago you mainly came here to party and drink, but fortunately many backpackers also visit the village because of the amazing karst mountains, the many caves, the blue lagoons and the cool west Vang Vieng scooter loop.
After Vang Vieng you travel back to Luang Prabang and then continue to Nong Khiaw. It is nice to stay overnight in Luang Prabang and continue the next morning to Nong Khiaw. This village is located on the river in a beautiful area with many mountains, caves and viewpoints.
Muang Ngoi Neua
From Nong Khiaw, it’s about an hour by boat to the small village of Muang Ngoi Neua, which consists of one dusty main road. Until a few years ago, there were no tourists here, but now the village is increasingly emerging because of the fantastic surroundings and the chill vibe.
After Muang Ngoi you travel by boat to Muang Khua, a town that has not much to offer and attracts few tourists, but is ideally located to continue to Vietnam.
Dien Bien Phu
From Muang Khua you take the bus in the morning to Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam, a city with an interesting history. After Dien Bien Phu you can easily travel to the beautiful mountains and rice terraces in Sapa. Recommended!
Duration of this Laos itinerary
For this Laos itinerary I took about 2 weeks. Please note that the trip from Chiang Mai or Pai to Luang Prabang takes 3 days. If you have less time, you could also spend a bit less time on this itinerary. But be aware that you are rushing more which is not always pleasant. Of course you can also take longer if you like to take it very easy.
With this Laos itinerary you travel by land to Vietnam. But of course you can also fly if you prefer, such as from Luang Prabang or Vientiane. In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about traveling from Laos to Vietnam by land border crossing.
2. Laos itinerary: north to south
Luang Prabang ➜ Vang Vieng ➜ Vientiane ➜ Thakhek ➜ Pakse ➜ Si Phan Don (4000 islands)
With this Laos itinerary you travel from the north to the south of the country. This route can therefore be perfectly combined with a trip through Cambodia.
The trip starts in Luang Prabang in the north of Laos, but you can also travel to Luang Prabang from Thailand or Vietnam. You can reach Luang Prabang by plane or via one of the neighboring countries by land.
Then you travel south to Vang Vieng, the village with an incredibly beautiful environment where you definitely want to stay for a few days.
After Vang Vieng you will visit Vientiane, the capital of Laos. The city is not very interesting, but it does have some nice sights. In addition to Thakhek, you can easily travel from Vientiane to Bangkok.
You visit Thakhek of course because of the fantastic Thakhekloop. During this 450 kilometer scooter loop you can admire the beautiful mountains of Laos.
The main reason to visit the city of Pakse is because of the spectacular Bolaven Plateau nature reserve. Here you will find beautiful waterfalls that are definitely worth a visit.
Si Phan Don
After Pakse you travel to Si Phan Don, where you will find the only islands in all of Laos. You can stay on one of these islands and enjoy the peace. From Si Phan Don you can easily travel to Cambodia.
Duration of this Laos itinerary
A time frame of at least 2 weeks is definitely recommended for this Laos itinerary. Less than 2 weeks isn’t recommended, because then you’re almost only traveling. Longer than 2 weeks is also fine for this Laos itinerary.
With this itinerary you travel from north to south Laos, but it’s of course also fine to travel in reverse.
Best time to travel this Laos itinerary
The best time to travel to Laos is from October to April, in the dry season. The rainy season is from May to September and it rains on average 20 days a month.
These two backpack routes are, of course, partly easy to combine with each other. For example, travel from Vietnam to Thailand, or from Cambodia to the north of Laos. Make it fun and come up with your own cool travel route through Laos! But don’t skip the highlights!