How to plan a trip to Laos, from Luang Prabang to Vientiane

Joshua Berida

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How to plan a trip to Laos, from Luang Prabang to Vientiane

BUDDHAS. Wat Si Saket.

Joshua Berida/Rappler

Laos is an affordable destination where you can get the most out of your vacation money!

Laos doesn’t get the same attention as Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and other countries in Asia. However, this laid-back and landlocked country has its own rich cultural and historical heritage. It has many sleepy and idyllic towns where you can simply disconnect. It also has a couple of destinations that many backpackers are familiar with. It’s also an affordable destination where you can get the most out of your money.

Getting a visa

Laos is a part of ASEAN. Filipinos can enter the country visa-free for up to 30 days.


Lao Kip (LAK)

Conversion as of this writing:

$1 = LAK20,925 

P1 = LAK376.27 

Get into Laos
Architecture, Building, Temple
ARCHITECTURE. Visiting Haw Phra Kaew. Joshua Berida/Rappler

There are no direct flights from Manila to Laos. However, the most convenient way to enter the country is from Bangkok, Thailand. AirAsia operates direct flights between Bangkok and Vientiane and Luang Prabang. AirAsia also offers discounted airfares if you book early enough. You can include Laos as part of a longer trip around Southeast Asia.

Getting around 

You can travel between Vientiane and Luang Prabang by bus or train. You can book a ride here. Both places are walkable. You can get by walking from point A to point B. However, if you want to go to places far from the city, you’ll need to book a tour. You can also rent a bicycle or a motorcycle for around $15+++ or roughly LAK314,000 so you can explore on your own. 


*This itinerary assumes you start with one full day.

For this itinerary, you’ll start your trip in Luang Prabang.

Day 1

On your first full day in Luang Prabang, explore the old town and experience the city’s laid back and historic ambiance. The historic center of Luang Prabang is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List and used to be the capital of the Lan Xang Kingdom. Despite its status as a former royal capital, it has maintained its old-world appeal and has a visible lack of modernization. However, this adds to its charm. Exploring the old town allows you to step into a different time. You’ll also find historic and culturally significant temples and monasteries such as Wat Xieng Mouane, Wat Sensoukaram, Wat May Souvannapoumaram, and Wat Xieng Thong. The architecture blends traditional Lao and French colonial aesthetics. You can also check out the Royal Palace Museum during your trip. Check out the night market for souvenirs. Stalls offer all sorts of unique handicrafts. You can also try Lao food from one of the night food stalls. 

Day 2

Start your day early by watching or participating in the morning alms-giving. This Laos Buddhist tradition displays the country’s culture. You’ll see many monks walking along the sidewalk receiving alms. You’ll have to follow guidelines before you can join the alms-giving. 

Monk, Person, Adult
ALMS. Watch or experience alms-giving while in Luang Prabang. Joshua Berida/Rappler

Visit Kuangsi Falls for a relaxing day out. The waterfall is one of the most popular destinations not just in Luang Prabang, but in the whole country. You can visit this destination by driving your own vehicle or joining a tour. Kuangsi is huge with multiple pools as you explore it. The deeper you get into Kuangsi, the fewer visitors you’ll see. Take a dip into one of the bluish waters to douse off the heat, take photos, or go on a leisurely hike.

End your day with a hike up Mt. Phousi. It takes more than 300 steps to reach the viewing platform. It’s a popular sunset viewing spot.

Nature, Outdoors, Scenery
RIVERSIDE. View from Mt. Phousi. Joshua Berida/Rappler

Day 3

On your third day, go on a day trip to the Pak Ou Caves. The latter is around 25 km from Luang Prabang. The trip to the caves is scenic with views of the countryside and landscapes. The Pak Ou Caves contain thousands of Buddha statues. These come in different positions that depict nirvana and peacefulness. The statues accumulated in the caves because of worshippers bringing different ones in over the centuries. After your day trip, relax in the city.

BUDDHAS. Go on a day trip to Pak Ou Caves. Joshua Berida/Rappler

Day 4

You have the option to take a van or train to Vientiane from Luang Prabang. The van ride takes hours longer but is cheaper. The train is more expensive but gets you to Vientiane faster. You can browse schedules here. Once you arrive in the capital, you can chill for the rest of the day before sightseeing.

Day 5

Vientiane is the capital of Laos, but in my experience, it didn’t feel like a big city. It had a laid-back ambiance much like a city in the province in the Philippines. Getting around the city is easy and many of its attractions are a short ride or walk from each other. There’s also plenty of restaurants and accommodations for all sorts of travelers. 

Garden, Nature, Outdoors
HISTORY. Patuxai commemorates the country’s independence from France. Joshua Berida/Rappler

One of the most recognizable landmarks in Vientiane is the Patuxai. It will remind visitors of the Arc de Triomphe in France but with local features. It was constructed as a symbol of Laos independence from the French. You can also go up Patuxai to get overlooking views of the city. Pha That Luang is one of the country’s most sacred monuments. It attracts both tourists and locals alike because of its cultural significance. The structure dates to the 16th century and is around 147 feet high with three levels. Not too far from Pha That Luang is Vat That Khao. The latter is home to a giant golden reclining Buddha. Another temple to add to your itinerary is Haw Phra Kaew. The latter dates to the 16th century and was the royal family’s chapel. It’s one of the most beautiful temples you’ll find in the city. Wat Si Saket is known for containing several seated Buddhas. 

Prayer, Adult, Female
PEACE. Reclining Golden Buddha. Joshua Berida/Rappler

Day 6

Spend the day relaxing and soaking in the laid-back atmosphere of Vientiane after a frenetic few days of traveling and sightseeing. If you want to see more attractions these are some of the places you can add Lao National Museum, COPE Visitor Center, and the Buddha Park. You can check out the riverfront to try some local food.

Food, Meal, Person
YUM. Indulge in delicious Lao food. Joshua Berida/Rappler

Day 7

Check out of your accommodation and if time permits why not buy souvenirs? You can also head straight to the airport if you have no other plans.

How much will you spend?

A budget of around P15,000 to P20,000 or roughly LAK5,641,950 to LAK7,522,600 for seven days includes a bed in a dorm room or a private room in a budget hotel, a few paid attractions, one or two day trips, motorcycle or bicycle rental, budget meals (with the occasional splurge), and public transportation to get to places. This budget doesn’t include flights to and from Laos and shopping.

Vientiane and Luang Prabang are budget-friendly destinations that have plenty of affordable options for dining out and accommodation. It’s easy to spend less than P15,000 if you stick to the essentials. You can also splurge on luxury hotels and high-end restaurants; you have some choices while in Laos. – Rappler.com

Joshua Berida is a writer that loves to travel. He blogs at www.thewanderingjuan.net.

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