Want a different travel experience? Laos is a small, landlocked country bordering Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, and China. Travel in Laos is laidback, and you’ll encounter some amazing sights. You can easily spend months here, but what happens when you’ve only got one week? Here’s your seven-day itinerary to fit in all the Laos highlights.
Laos is a one-of-a-kind country that has largely been overlooked by tourists, although it has opened its borders to visitors on a wide scale in recent years. In Laos, you can paddle down wide rivers, scale mountains, visit temples and museums, and sit enjoying a drink watching the sunset – all within a week, and all without giving up that special sense of peace the country provides.
With seven days in Laos, you can see the capital city and take part in outdoor activities and visit some of the country’s heritage sites.
Day One and Two in Vientiane
It makes sense to start your week in Laos in the capital city. This small and friendly city is packed with things to see and do, but the pace and the scale are manageable, and you should be able to get a good sense of the place in a couple of days. Go to the national monument of Pha That Luang (the famous Golden Stupa) and look around the adjacent temples. On the first day, take it easy with coffee in Vientiane’s cafes and a walk along the Mekong, then visit the old quarter for dinner.
On the second day, you can take one of the organized tours around the city – choose from bicycle tours and tuk-tuk tours, walking tours, and minibus tours. You will visit local landmarks and see the hidden sites of the city, and it’ll give you a good sense of what Vientiane offers.
Day Three and Four in Vang Vieng
From Vientiane, head to this pretty town on the banks of the Nam Song River. Here you’ll be able to go kayaking, climbing, or caving, or relax by the river bank watching the sunset with a cocktail in your hand. On day four, you can sail down the river in an inner tube, and then in the afternoon, you can try ziplining or a canopy tour in the jungle. This is a beautiful place and worth spending a lot more time in, but since you have only a week, it’s onto the next stop.
Day Five and Six in Luang Prabang
Take an early morning bus to Luang Prabang, so you have the most time possible to experience this wonderful World Heritage city. Luang Prabang is a UNESCO-protected city and boasts amazing scenery with beautiful buildings and attractions. The road into the city is beautiful, too, and you’ll pass by a host of tiny mountain villages and ride along the side of cliffs.
When you arrive in the city of Luang Prabang, you’ll want to go to the peninsula, which is the place to check out 33 temples (wats) that are truly a sight to behold. As well as the temples, the city offers a pristine riverside for strolling, lots of cafes and restaurants, cooking schools, and the Handicraft Night Market where you can pick up souvenirs and clothes, silks, and textiles. In the evening, you can enjoy a drink overlooking the Mekong River and watch the world go by.
The next day, if you can, wake up super early for a dawn yoga class and then breakfast on croissants and jam in the finest Laos tradition. Once you’ve had breakfast, take a tuk-tuk to the biggest waterfall in Laos, Tat Kuang Si. At the foot of the waterfall, you can swim in the green pools and take in the spectacle of the verdant jungle. There is also the opportunity to visit the Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre, a haven for Asiatic Moon Bears. As your days take a pattern, relax as the sun sets by the river with a cool beer in hand.
Day Seven in Luang Prabang
The final day in Luang Prabang is a day for wandering, taking in the markets where you can find tasty local produce, and exploring the temples. If you want a break from the city itself, you can take the ferry to Ban Xieng Maen, a tiny village, and come back to the hilltop overlooking Luang Prabang for the sunset. It’s a great time to end your trip with a cocktail and a nice meal at one of the city’s fine restaurants.
For more information on Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Cambodia, and more, visit PhuketOn. Take a trip to PhuketOn for travel inspiration and all the details about accommodation, restaurants, and activities.
Photo credits: Samnang Danou and Mills Baker via Flickr