Laos is a relaxing slow-paced country with friendly and accommodating people. Although they don’t have nice beaches as those found in Thailand or Vietnam, there’s still a lot of places to see and activities to enjoy in this landlocked country.

I went to Laos on the month of May, which I think is the best time to go for backpackers because it’s considered low season so the guesthouses are cheaper.

I spent 12 days there, 6 days in Bangkok, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai. If you are a little bit clueless on how to spend your vacation in Laos, you may follow this itinerary:

Bangkok -> Vientiane -> Phonsavan -> Vang Vieng -> Luang Prabang -> Pak Beng -> Huay Xai -> Chiang Rai -> Chiang Mai

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Day 1: Bangkok to Nong Khai

1. Take the 8PM train from Bangkok to Nong Khai.
Departing station: Hua Lamphong (Bangkok central station)
Destination: Nong Khai
Cost: 775 Baht  ($24USD) for a second class sleeper, upper bed.

Patuxai Vientiane

Patuxai Vientiane

Day 2: Arrive in Nong Khai

1. Get your exit stamp at the Thai immigration and take the Friendship train to the Thanaleng station.
DO NOT buy the Vientiane ticket from the train station because it will cost you 200 Baht more.

2. Proceed to the train without paying. It’s free-seating. Pay your ticket once the ticket collector makes his rounds in the train.
Cost: 20 Baht ($0.70 USD) for the train ticket

3. For ASEAN people, you don’t need to queue on the VISA-on-ARRIVAL window but you need to ask for the Arrival Immigration card.

4. Go to the Laos immigration and get your passport stamped.

5. Go to the tuktuk and van station. The trip to the city is 100 Baht ($3USD). You have to pay extra 50 Baht ($1.5USD) if you want the van to bring you to the guesthouse.

6. After finding your guesthouse, rent a bike and go to the following places:
A. Wat Sisaket – 5000K ($0.70 USD) entrance fee
B. Patuxai – 3000K ($0.40 USD) entrance fee
C. Pha That Luang – Free
D. Fountain – free

7. Book a bus to Phonsavan
VIP sleeper: 180,000 Kip ($23 USD) overnight trip
A/C Sitting bus: 160,000 Kip ($20 USD) daytime trip

Day 3: Vientiane to Phonsavan

1. Go to Phonsavan (Xieng Khouan)

Plain of Jars in Phonsavan

Plain of Jars in Phonsavan

Day 4: Phonsavan

1. Go to the Plain of Jars
Admission Jar site 1: 15,000 Kip ($18 USD)

Day 5: Phonsavan to Vang Vieng

1. Go to Vang Vieng
Mini-van: 100,000 Kip ($13 USD)

Day 6: Explore Vang Vieng

A. 1 day kayaking in Nam Song river, tubing in the underwater cave – 85,000 Kip ($11 USD)

Boats along Nam Song River in Vang Vieng

Boats along Nam Song River in Vang Vieng

Day 7: Vang Vieng

1. Explore Vang Vieng
a. Go to Blue Lagoon and Tham Pou Kao via mountain bike:
i. Mountain bike – 25,000 Kip ($3.5 USD)
ii. Than Pou Kao – 10,000 Kip ($1.2 USD)

Day 8: Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang

1. Go to Luang Prabang
VIP bus: 100,000 Kip ($13 USD)
A. Go for sunset view at Mt. Phousi – 20,000 Kip ($3 USD)

Night Market in Luang Prabang

Night Market in Luang Prabang

Day 9: Luang Prabang

1. Go to Xieng Thong temple – 20,000 Kip ($3 USD)
2. Go to the Royal Palace (National Museum) – 30,000 Kip ($4 USD)

Day 10: Luang Prabang

1. Go to Pack Ou cave in the morning
Boat: 65,000 Kip ($8 USD)
Entrance fee: 20,,000 Kip ($2.5 USD)

2. Go to Kuang Si waterfall in the afternoon
Tuktuk: 40,000 Kip ($5 USD)
Entrance fee: 20,000 Kip ($2.5 USD)

Day 11: Luang Prabang to Pak Beng

1. Take the 2-day Mekong River slow boat tour
2. Go to Pak Beng
Boat ticket: 110,000 Kip ($14 USD)

Boat in Mekong River

Boat in Mekong River

Day 12: Pak Beng to Huay Xai

1. Take the slow boat to Huay Xai
Boat ticket: 110,000 Kip ($14 USD)

Day 13: Huay Xai to Chiang Rai

1. In the morning before you cross the border, go to Wat Jom Khao Manilat to watch the monk’s morning alms giving.
2. In Chiang Rai, go to the golden clock and their market.

Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai

Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai

Day 14: Chiang Rai

1. Inquire your guesthouse for the 1-day tour package, 1000 Baht ($31 USD) that will go to:
A. White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)
B. Black House (Baan Si Dum)
C. Mae Sai border (Border of Myanmar and Thailand)
D. Golden Triangle – where three countries are just a river apart.
E. The Opium House Museum
F.  Monkey Cave
G. The Karen tribe

Lanna Folklife Museum in Chiang Mai

Lanna Folklife Museum in Chiang Mai

Day 15-18: Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai

1. Try and visit the following:
A. Monjam
B. Doi Thep Temple
C. Weekend / Night market
D. Khantoke dinner
E. Wat Chedi Lhuang
F. Lanna Museum
G. Three Kings Monument