What To Visit in Laos PDR

Laos is a beautiful country located in Southeast Asia. It borders Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and China which is why you should consider visiting whilst you travel around Southeast Asia.

This country allows you to enjoy the nature at its fullest. There are impressive waterfalls, rivers and caves that can entertain you for a good time if you are into outdoor activities.

I spent three weeks in Laos and had a great time. Below you will find information on the places that I visited, my daily budget and visa application on arrival. Hope that this helps you plan your trip!

Surreal sunsets at Don Det, 4000 Islands

Surreal sunsets at Don Det, 4000 Islands

Don Det, 4000 Islands.

After 16 hours that involved two buses, one boat trip and one “dodgy” border crossing (from Cambodia), I made it to Don Det in the 4,000 Islands. What a place!

Whilst I was there, I got to see the most epic sunsets by the Mekong River, visit beautiful waterfalls such as the Don Kohn Waterfalls and was lucky enough to spot the Irrawady Dolphins along the Mekong. 

If you want to see the Irrawady dolphins at the 4,000 Islands, I recommend getting a local fisherman at Don Khon instead of going to the harbor where the big companies are. Negotiate the price and be prepared to bargain. At the end they will give a good price, we paid USD 3 each.

On the way to spot the dolphins

My day to day activities involved relaxing on a hammock by the Mekong River, reading a good book with a cup of coffee during breakfast and having a good Beerlao with my dinner. This is a place to relax and enjoy nature and calmness. Party vibe still exists but don’t expect having a long night.

Accommodation 

I shared a bungalow at EasyGo Hostel with my Israeli friend Shelly. The price is very good for budget travelers but take into account that it is located far from the action. Nonetheless, I recommend staying here.

 

Don Khon Waterfalls

 

My crew in the Bolaven Plateu. Bernardo, Shelly, Omry and Inbar

My crew in the Bolaven Plateu (Pakse). Bernardo, Shelly, Omry and Inbar

Pakse

After Don Det, I took a bus to Pakse. There is not much to see in town but its surroundings are beautiful. Pakse is the gateway to the famous Bolaven Plateu which is why many people visit this town (including myself).

Even though you can visit the Bolaven Plateu by bus or car, I decided to do it by scooter (more fun). I rented a semi-automatic scooter from the shop Miss Noy and went with some friends along the Bolaven Plateu.

Miss Noy is a shop run by a local woman (named Noy) and her husband from Belgium. Every night, around 7PM they explain which are the best places to visit along the Bolaven Plateu and estimated amount of time to visit. They also offer a map and free luggage storage whilst you are riding around the Bolaven Plateu.

The scooters are in very good conditions and prices are very similar to the other ones in town which is why I would recommend renting here.

Once we were on the road, we got to enjoy amazing waterfalls, coffee and tea plantations. Not only that, we got to visit local villages and spot elephants on the river. The road was not that bad but still it had some rough points, so make sure that you know how to ride or go a bit slower while you get used to it. We only spent 2D/1N riding around the Plateu, staying overnight at Tad Lo. Even though it was a short bike trip, it was good enough for us to enjoy a little part of this amazing trip.

I recommend using Maps.me to guide you through the ride. This app works offline once you have downloaded the map of the place where you want to go.

Elephant having a morning bathe

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Visiting the local villages

Accommodation:

In Pakse, I shared a room at Sabaidy 2 Guesthouse before the bike ride. They have single bed dorms with fans. The guesthouse is in good conditions and hosts many travelers going to the Bolaven Plateu.

You can find many places where to stay while you ride along the Bolaven Plateu. Nonetheless, I stayed at MamaPap in Tad Lo. The place is run by “Mama”, a lovely old lady that gets excited to have new guests. We slept in mattresses on the ground with mosquito nets but they were comfortable. The food was very good at her place and Mama was very friendly.

Amazing waterfalls through the Bolaven Plateu

Amazing waterfalls through the Bolaven Plateu

 

 

My crew for The Loop, the Wang Wang Gang

Thakhek 

Not done with motorbike rides, I decided to go to Thakhek. Just like in Pakse, there is not much to see in this town. Nonetheless, Thakhek is the start point to the famous “Loop”.

The Loop is a trip around Thakhek that takes approximately 2N/3D enjoying the most beautiful natural surroundings such as mountains, limestones, caves, cool springs and waterfalls. Definitely worth doing it.

I rented a semi-automatic scooter from Wang Wang Shop (Korean scooters are the cheapest) and went riding through the famous “Loop” with my friend Shelly. We met many other travelers that were also doing the Loop at the same time as us, so we formed a motorbike gang, called the Wang Wang Gang.

There were many beautiful landscapes while riding but my highlights were Konglor Cave and cool springs. We stayed on the first night at Sabaidi Guesthouse where they have an amazing but pricey BBQ. You can find many guesthouses while you ride around the Loop so you do not have to book anything in advance.

Cave exploring

I recommend using Maps.me to guide you through the ride. This app works offline once you have downloaded the map of the place where you want to go.

Accommodation:

I shared a room with Shelly at Thakhek Travel Lodge before doing The Loop.

I recommend staying at Sabaidi Guesthouse on your first night doing the Loop. The rooms are clean and cozy and the BBQ is delicious. 

 

The Cool Springs in The Loop. Amazing place to stop and go for a swim

 

Buddha Park, Vientiane

Vientiane

I enjoyed the calm capital of Laos, Vientiane. This city is not as hectic as many of the other capitals in Southeast Asia.

During my time in Vientiane, I usually went to see the sunset by the river, visit the morning market and the multiple Buddhist temples along the city.

I recommend visiting the COPE (a center created to assist people affected by the mines and bombings in Laos) and watch the documentaries that explain the current situation of the Lao people after the bombings from the US Air Force in the Vietnam War.

The Buddha Park can make a nice day trip while you are in Vientiane but it is not a “Must” in here (take Bus 14 from Morning Market).

Accommodation:

I stayed in a dorm at Vientiane Backpackers. The hostel is well located, has good WiFi and AC inside the rooms. Breakfast is included. 

Before jumping in the Blue Lagoon

Before jumping in the Blue Lagoon, Vang Vieng.

Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng has always been known as the party town in Laos. Nonetheless, after several restrictions by the government, the party vibe has been reduced in here and has become more of a relaxing place. Some bars are operating until midnight, there are a few pub crawls and the traditional tubing still exists, so you can enjoy what is left of the nightlife in Vang Vieng. 

Riding around the villages

There are a few shops, bars and restaurants where you can hang out. I also recommend riding bicycle through the villages to the Blue Lagoon. The scenery is beautiful since you get to see traditional villages surrounded by limestones and mountains. Once you get to the Blue Lagoon, you should go jumping from the tree branches, it is definitely fun and worth doing.

Accommodation:

I had a shared dorm at Chillao Youth Hostel. The hostel has a good location, a pool table, nice common area and breakfast is included. I recommend staying here.

 

Luang Prabang, Laos (Kuang Si Waterfalls)

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is a cozy town with colonial roads, bamboo bridges and food stalls almost at every corner. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site and it clearly deserves this title. The vibe in Luang Prabang is very nice and invites tourists to stay longer than expected. 

Bamboo Bridge, Luang Prabang

The town has a lively night market where you can find food, clothes and souvenirs. Luang Prabang has beautiful temples worth visiting such as Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Manorom and Wat Mai, among others. 

Whilst I was there, I got to visit the most amazing waterfalls in Laos called Kuang-si Waterfalls. The color of the water is impressive and it is worth visiting. I was surprised to find a few black bears while walking towards the waterfalls. I felt as if I was in a zoo. The Entrance fee to Kuang-Si Waterfalls is 20,000 Kip.

Read the following guide on how to get to the Kuangsi Waterfalls: http://www.laos-guide-999.com/Kuang-si-falls.html

Every morning, Buddhist monks walk around town collecting donations. This used to be something really authentic in Laos but now seems very unattractive due to the amount of tourists that take pictures and interrupt the ritual.

Buddhist monks on the morning walk

Accommodation:

I had a shared dorm at LPG Backpackers with breakfast included. The rooms were very small but the place is a nice hub to meet other travelers.

I told you there were bears

Hitchhiking in Laos was an adventure but worth it!

Hitchhiking in Laos was an adventure but worth it!

Hitchhiking

Not easy, but “doable”. People in Laos are not used to seeing people hitchhiking on the road so sometimes they don’t understand what is going on and don’t stop.

Don’t try to make more than 200 kms per day, it will stress you out. Once in the highway, wave or move the arm up and down (no thumbs up in here, they will think you just like their car).

Daily Budget

I estimate an average of USD 15-20 per day which include accommodation, transportation and food. Expect cheaper rates in the south of Laos whilst in the north prices will increase.

Visa:

Most nationalities can obtain a visa on arrival for Laos. The price (even though it should not) varies depending on the place where you enter the country but it usually costs between USD 30-40. Beware of the overland crossings from Cambodia to Laos. The “border assistants” like to invent additional fees that do not exist. When I crossed the border, they charged everyone USD 5 extra because it was Sunday and they charged me USD5 extra for being Colombian. Apparently Colombia is on a red list for Laos (it is not true).

Prices and Costs

The following are some of the prices and costs that I paid in Laos:

  • Semi-automatic scooter rental at Miss Noy in Pakse Kp.80.000 per day
  • Tad Lo Waterfalls Kp.12.000
  • Semi-automatic scooter rental at Wang Wang in Thakhek Kp.75.000 per day
  • Aen Cave during the Loop Kp. 20.000
  • Konglor Cave during the Loop Kp. 57.000 (entrance fee 7.000 plus + boat shared between two Kp. 50.000/each)
  • Cool Springs fee Kp. 10.000
  • Buddha Park at Vientiane Kp. 5.000
  • Bicycle rental at Vang Vieng Kp. 25.000/ per day
  • Private van to Kuang Si Waterfalls in Luang Prabang Kp. 40.000
  • Entrance fee Kuang Si Waterfalls in Luang Prabang Kp.20.000

 

I hope that you found this useful! Don´t forget to follow me on Instagram: @backpackinglawyer

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2017-10-01T13:08:24+00:00 April 28th, 2016|Laos PDR|