LAOS: Hidden gen of South East Asia

30th Sep 2022
Photo of LAOS: Hidden gen of South East Asia by Travelbuddiesforlife_Rk

Laos is one of the most underrated countries in Asia - home to majestic waterfalls, stunning temples and the friendliest people on earth!

Our Country No 15, Laos-"Simply Beautiful"

We completed our 10 day exploration to Laos.

1. VISA: It offers e-visa and voa both, e-visa costs 50$ and voa 40$..e-visa was smooth and faster. Infact, indian immigration took some time finding the country in the system. Had to tell him, please search with Lao sir.

2. Flights: Flew with Thai airways as this is the only airline offering decent connections from India. Ticket costed us 40k pp. Outbound flight was long as it had a layover of 9 hrs in Bangkok.

3. Currency: The currency is really weak in Laos and offers approx 18,000 kip for a dollar. Do remember, due to the falling forex reserves, the exchanges are only buying dollars, means you cant sell the local currency while exiting the country.

4. SIM: Took international roaming package with Airtel and it worked fine in both Thailand and Laos. Took a local sim also for just Rs. 150 including 7 gb data for 7 days..

5. Accomodation: Accomodation is pretty cheap in Laos with a decent Ac Room with breakfast costing just 15 usd in each of the three cities we visited, Vientiene, vang veing and luang prabang booked through Airbnb. Also meals are also decently prized. We had our dinners in around inr 400 for a three course meal for 2.

6. This country is heavily funded by various countries including China, Japan, Australia,Korea etc. Infact China is running bullet train across Laos for deeper trade benefits and a separate SEZ has been developed.

Now coming to the country, its a relatively less touristy as compared to its neighbours Thailand and Vietnam and thats what makes it so unique. Also since its recently opened, there are not much tourists around and you can have almost all the sites to yourself.

Cities to cover during your trip:

City#1 Vientiane- Capital of Laos, its the biggest city in Laos with Mekong river passing thrpugh it dividing Laos and Thailand. You can see thailand from your room balcony if you are staying at any riverside guesthouse. Since its the power house of the country, one can see lots of national monuments, buddhists temples, war memorials, presidential palace. Spent 3 nights here, lots of indian restaurants and heaven for non-veg lovers, especially sea food.

Photo of LAOS: Hidden gen of South East Asia by Travelbuddiesforlife_Rk
Photo of LAOS: Hidden gen of South East Asia by Travelbuddiesforlife_Rk

City#2 Vang Veing: This was the best part of our trip. A shared van takes around 2 hrs from Vientiane and is the heart if all adventure in Laos.

One can enjoy swimming in natural lagoons here, ziplining, Tubing, Kayaking, buggy rental, paragliding, hot air balloon etc. We did everything except paragliding and hot air balloon. But tubing was something scary and entirely different, they put you in the river in a tube without any guide or equipment..just using your hands, you need to guide the tube. Its around 5 kms downstream ride but in between there are many bars, cafes on which you can jump upon, ofcourse if you are able to maneuver yourself.

Vang veing is surrounded by mountains and there are various peaks on which one can trak and enjoy mesmering views. Life is really slow here and people generally keep happy.

Photo of LAOS: Hidden gen of South East Asia by Travelbuddiesforlife_Rk
Photo of LAOS: Hidden gen of South East Asia by Travelbuddiesforlife_Rk
Photo of LAOS: Hidden gen of South East Asia by Travelbuddiesforlife_Rk

City#3 Lunag Prabang- We took the high speed train to cover the distsnce of almost 180 kms in 45 minutes. This entire town is a UNESCO world heritage city. Lots of temples all around, calm serene vibes, riversides restaurants and cafes, massage, the most touristy of all. One can also hire slow boats to visit the various villages, areas around Luang prabang. This city has various waterfalls nearby and can be visited by hiring a bike for a day, but be careful bikes are stolen here frequently. Every morning Alms ceremony also happens here hundreds of monks at 5.30 am venture our looking for alms along the streets. You can easily buy food and sit on the roadside stools to serve. But even the monks are more interested in getting money, they keep throwing away the rice in small baskets kept on the roadside to empty their vessels. Overall this is a typical touristy city where everything seems to be staged for the tourists.

So in a nutshell, if you want to avoid the usual countries like Thailand and Vietnam or have already covered them , Laos is the perfect option. Its slow, less visited but have the same vibes as its neighbours, except ofcourse the massages and nightlife.

Here is our detailed itinerary:

Day 1: Vientiane

Arrive in the evening. Take a trip to the night market along the Mekong Delta, which has an extensive selection of food stalls.

Day 2: Vientiane

Enjoy visiting the The Presidential Palace - Patuxay Monument, also called the Victory Gate, and spend some time people-watching in the nearby park. Visit The Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

One of the highlights is the fantastic street food and recommended having dinner one night at the Ban Anou Market.

Day 3: Vang Vieng

Take a bus from Vientiane to Vang Vieng (expect the 80 miles (130 km) journey to take about four hours by bus or van. The cost of this journey is usually around $7 and you can book it through 12go.Asia website. The road is very scenic so make sure to look out the window and enjoy the ride).

Tham Chang or Chang Cave is more spectacular than Tham Poukham(to be covered next day), hence a more expensive entrance ticket fee.Since it’s located very close to Vang Vieng town center, you can practically walk there.

Visit Vang Vieng Night Market, also known as the Walking Street has quite a lot of food stalls selling pancakes, snacks, BBQ sticks, etc. If you’re here for dinner, I suggest having the claypot dinner from one of the stalls. The set usually comes with glass noodles, various vegetables, meat slices of your choice, and an egg.

Sakura Bar is one of the most famous bars in that area.

Day 4: Vang Vieng

The best way to sightsee in Vang Vieng is to rent a bike. Visit The Blue Lagoon, naturist haven you cannot miss while traveling through Vang Vieng. There is a 10,000 kip entrance fee to get into the park (about $1.25). Blue Lagoon 3 is located around an hour motorcycle ride from Vang Vieng town through the bumpy dirt roads. You can easily navigate there using Google Maps. In Blue Lagoon 3, you’ll find a small lagoon beside a huge limestone hill. There are zip-lines, kayaks, tubes, floating rafts for people to have fun with.

or alternatively visit

Blue Lagoon 1 is located very near to the town center, taking less than 20 minutes to get there on a motorbike. has more facilities, more expensive gears rental (especially safety jackets).

Pou Kham Cave or Tham Pou Kham is located very near to Blue Lagoon 1, so it makes perfect sense to visit them both in one go.The cave itself is very dark so I recommend renting a headlamp at the entrance, which will cost you 10,000 Kip. Inside the cave, you’ll find Buddhism sculptures and statues.

Day 5: Vang Vieng

Go For a Short Hike in Pha Poak Viewpoint. It is located around 30 minutes’ walk from Vang Vieng town. On your way to Pha Poak Viewpoint, you’ll need to cross a bridge, where the end is sandwiched by riverside restaurants. It’s a perfect place to be in after the hike. You can also soak your feet into the water in Nam Song River, and there’s a swing built on the shallow area of the river coast.

Tubing in Nam Song River has been one of the most popular things to do in Vang Vieng.

Have a Meal in Victor Place, Victor Place has the best menu.

Day 6: Vang to Luang Prabang

The journey is 113 miles (183 km) between Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang, and most travelers again opt for a van or taking a bus. Expect the trip to cost somewhere around $10 and last between five to six hours. The road is very bumpy and curvy but again it’s all worth it for those window views.

A trip to Luang Prabang is not complete without exploring the night market, which opens every evening from 5 to 10 pm. It’s a great place to have an inexpensive dinner. No matter what you do, don’t leave Laos without trying the coconut pancakes.

Day 7: Luang Prabang

Wake up early to make the hour drive to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Southeast Asia: Tat Kuang Si. It’s roughly a 40-minute drive by motorbike, tuk-tuk, or shared van, so it’s good to make the trip worthwhile. Additionally, it’s a large area, with plenty to do, so you won’t want to rush. The trees shadow the pools, so this natural spa is an incredible place to spend a few hours.

Explore the Pak Ou Caves, which are usually incorporated into hiking trips.

Day 8: Luang Prabang

Another very interesting thing that you can watch in Luang Prabang is the morning alms-giving ceremony. It takes place every day during the sunrise time when local people give food to the monks. Don’t forget that it’s a part of Lao culture and history, so be respectful and only watch quietly from afar.

Visit Wat Chom Si shrine you will find it at the top of Mount Phou Si, overlooking the city. It is the most popular place to visit to watch the sunset, so make sure to arrive early to get the best spot.

Wat Xieng Thong temple there are over twenty buildings on the property, and it’s well worth exploring to admire the elaborate designs.

Wat Pa Phai is a smaller, lesser-known, temple in the center of Luang Prabang

Day 9: Luang Prabang

The Royal Palace in the center of town is absolutely beautiful. The open courtyard is free to enter, however, you will have to buy a ticket to enter one of the buildings. If you are interested in learning about Lao history, and culture, then check out the National Museum of Luang Prabang here.

The bamboo bridge over the Nam Khan river. Cross the bamboo bridge, where you’ll find a craft shop named ‘Garden of Eden’ and a lovely restaurant that overlooks the river. Took flight at 6:40 P.M. to Vientiane

Day 10: Vientiane

Visit Wat Si Saket, this Buddhist temple is located on Lan Xang Road . Following on from this, admire the Wat Si Muang.

Visit the COPE Visitor’s Center, this museum shows the country’s history regarding the Vietnam War, and the tragic bombing campaigns the country has experienced.

Finally, finish off your day by seeing the Pha That Luang stupa, which you may recognize as the landmark on your currency.

Day 11: Vientiane and fly back home

Visit Buddha Park (Wat Xieng Khuan)- This is a heavy Buddhist sculpture park located 25km to the west, on the outskirts of Vientiane City. The park is also home to more than 200 Buddhist and Hindu concrete statues.

Take late evening flight back home.

Bon voyage!