Southeast Asia holds a special place in my heart. It’s the place I go when I need a reset, or when I want to reconnect with nature, or when I want to travel with back-to-basics in mind.
It’s a colourful, extraordinary, and affordable destination. It’s so diverse in culture, scenery, traditions, people, and activities. Laos embodies all these incredible features.
When I first stepped to Laos, it was an unplanned trip. I was doing a visa run from Hanoi in Vietnam, and Laos is just right next door. Sure, the land travel to get to Luang Prabang from Hanoi was not for the faint-hearted, but it was worth it as a one-time experience.
Laos’ breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, stunning natural scenery, and cultural heritage are some of the many reasons why it is worth visiting. Laos is located between Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, and China. This exciting destination is sought-after for its picturesque landscapes, and tranquil rivers like the Mekong River.
This article features two travel itineraries for spending 2 weeks in Laos. Sure, most people plan only to spend a week here, but it’s easily one of those places that will charm you to stay for longer.
BASIC TRAVEL INFORMATION FOR LAOS
Here are some quick information about travelling and planning your itinerary for Laos, such as when to go, transportation, cost, and crossing the land borders.
When is the best time to travel to Laos
It is best to visit Laos during the dry season, most likely from November to April. During these months, the country is ideal for visiting and exploring its great landscape sceneries and temples to best experience outdoor activities like trekking, kayaking, and river cruises.
However, these destinations can get crowded during its peak season from November to January, so it’s best to plan your visit ahead of time and make reservations for accommodations and activities. You must avoid the months of May to October (rainy season), as it will be too muddy to enjoy Laos’ rich forests.
Are 2 weeks enough for Laos
Yes and no. Two weeks in Laos offer a rich experience blending natural beauty, history, and local culture. However, due to its hilly terrain and not having the best infrastructure, travelling between sites can take longer time than usual.
With limited domestic flights and bus routes through the mountains, a 3-hour drive could easily turn into 4 or even 5. The new railway system is definitely a great improvement, and let’s hope it keeps getting better.
Because of this, I recommend you plan to explore 4-5 cities on your 2 weeks in Laos itinerary. Also, choose places that are not too far from one another or have a convenient way to transport between the cities.
Laos, unlike its neighbours Vietnam and Thailand, is less popular. This means direct flights here from Europe or Asia are not common. Most visitors arrive through Bangkok or Cambodia, then cross the land border or catch a short flight to enter Laos.
I crossed the border between Vietnam and Laos by bus, which took nearly 30 hours. It was a very windy road along the mountain, which I honestly don’t recommend unless you’re on a tight budget and can go for a long time without minimal bathroom breaks, water, and food. It can be an adventure if you’re crossing with a motorbike of your own.
Obviously, for flights, Vientiane, Luang Prabang, and Pakse are the three popular international airports. When it comes to land border crossing, look at the following:
- Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai (Thailand) to Luang Prabang (Laos): Chiang Khong District / Huay Xai Border, crossing via a ferry or via Thai/Lao Friendship Bridge No.4
- Udon Thani (Thailand) to Vientiane (Laos): First Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge (Nong Khai-Vientiane)
- Mukdahan (Thailand) to Savannakhet (Laos): Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge No.2
- Ubon Ratchathani (Thailand) to Pakse (Laos): Chong Mek/Vang Tao Border Crossing
- Krong Stung Treng (Cambodia) to Don Det (Cambodia): Nong Nok Khiene Border Crossing
- Kon Tum (Vietnam) to Attapeu (Cambodia): Bo Y International Border Gate/Phu Kuea International Border Checkpoint
- Da Nang/Hue/Hoi An (Vietnam) to Savannakhet/Pakse (Cambodia): La Lay Border Checkpoint or Lao Bao Border Check Point
- Dong Hoi (Vietnam) to Savannakhet (Cambodia): Cha Lo Bordergate
- Vinh/Hanoi (Vietnam) to Vientiane (Laos): Nam Phao Border Checkpoint or Nam Khan Border
- Hanoi (Vietnam) to Luang Prabang (Laos): Tay Trang Border Crossing Station or Nam Khan Border
To book your bus or minivan, or ferry tickets, you can walk into any travel agency. While for ferries, you can simply show up at the location and get your tickets there. Once on the Laos side, you should be able to find a bus or minivan that will take you to the nearest main city.
How to get around
There are various options to choose from to suit your budget and preference for getting around Laos. Buses and minivans are the cheapest ones; although they may not be the fastest, they can give you an authentic experience and allow you to interact with the locals.
However, if you’re tight on schedule and want a hassle-free and traffic-free ride, you may also travel by air to reach any destination in the country within an hour. Although it might be hefty, it is the quickest option for you.
Luckily, in 2021, Laos introduced its brand new railway lines. You can now travel around Laos via a train. For now, it’s only available in the northern part of the country.
Language and currency
Lao is the country’s official language. But, the locals are also fluent in the languages of the neighbouring countries, such as Vietnamese and Thai.
English is not common amongst locals. However, you can expect a local guide to be able to communicate in English with no problem. Make sure to install a translation app on your phone; this will help a lot.
When travelling in Laos, carrying cash in LAK currency is advisable since credit cards are not widely accepted. However, there are ATMs in major cities dispencing the local currencies. Most travel agencies, and even some accommodations, will accept payment in major currencies such as USD, EURO, and GBP.
Laos is quite friendly when it comes to visas. Its neighbouring countries of ASEAN can enter and travel around Laos for 30 days without a visa, together with Russia (30 days) Japan, Switzerland, and Luxembourg for 15 days.
The rest of the world can apply for an evisa or get a visa upon arrival. I recommend you arrange your visa in advance to avoid hassle when you arrive. The evisa allows you to stay for up to 30 days.
Cost of 2 weeks in Laos
Affordable: Budget between $30-$50 a day. This includes staying in budget hostels/guesthouses, eating local street food, using public transportation, and visiting free or low-cost attractions. Total for 2 weeks: $420-$700.
Mid-Range: Plan to spend $70-$100 a day will allow for comfortable hotels, dining in mid-range restaurants, participating in more activities and tours, and perhaps renting a motorbike or taking private transport. Total for 2 weeks: $9800-$1,400.
Luxury: Those seeking luxury experiences can expect costs from $150 upwards per day. This would include staying in top-tier hotels or resorts, fine dining, private guided tours, and first-class transportation. Total for 2 weeks: $2,000 and up.
What to pack
There are lots of templates and pagodas that you will be visiting during your 2 weeks in Laos. One thing that you must pack is a sarong or high but lightweight scarf. You can use this scarf as a skirt to cover your legs or a scarf to cover your shoulders.
Since there are lots of jungle-like environments that you’ll be visiting, you should pack deet-free bug spray as well. Check out our what to pack for a 2-week trip list.
Travel arrangement tips
It doesn’t get too busy in Laos unless it’s the Lunar New Year. This means that you can leave the bookings last minute unless you’re visiting during that peak season. You might also want to arrange an accommodation if you’re arriving past sunset.
Get an esim to help you navigate around Laos and Southeast Asia.
MAP OF TOP SITES AND ACTIVITIES IN LAOS
Click the icon on the top right to enlarge the map. Credit: map data: Google
2 WEEKS IN LAOS ITINERARY
From my experience, knowing your purpose in visiting Laos is a great start in choosing and preparing your itinerary. So, when planning 2 weeks itinerary in Laos, it’s best to consider the type of trip you want to experience.
A slow travel itinerary may be ideal for you to allow yourself to fully immerse in its natural beauty and rich culture. If you want a jam-packed schedule of activities, a busy travel plan may work for you. Though these are only recommendations, it’s here to give you some insights into preparing the personalised itinerary you need.
Itinerary #1: First-time (Luang Prabang, Phonsavan, Vang Vieng, Vientiane, Pakse)
This itinerary is suitable for those visiting Laos for the first time and want to see everything it offers. Be aware that this travel plan is tight on schedule, so make sure to arrange your transportation in advance.
You’ll most likely arrive in Luang Prabang since most people entering from northern Thailand or northern Vietnam arrive here. You can also start in Vientiane, then Phonsavan, then Vang Vieng, and then fly from Luang Prabang to Pakse.
Luang Prabang for 3 days
If you want a more diverse and enriching experience in their country, this itinerary for 14 days in Laos itinerary will make the most of your stay. Starting from Luang Prabang, you can enjoy yourself with their breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage-listed towns and rich waterfalls like Kuang Si.
You can start exploring Laos through its rich cultural heritage, stunning natural beauty, and unique blend of traditional and colonial architecture in Luang Prabang. You should also visit the temples Wat Xieng Thong and Wat Visoun.
I also love the delicious street food at the Night Market, and I surely ate a lot.! It was festive and vibrant, and the locals were quite nice. There’s an airport transfer service to make the start of your trip hassle-free.
Phonsavan for 3 days
Your next destination is to Phonsavan, and I can see why it’s one of the must-visit destinations in Laos. Its astonishing countryside vibes, spectacular rice fields, and rolling hills make it an ideal place for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Plus, it’s where the ancient Plains of Jars are located.
I also love the local night market and the fascinating sight and history of the ancient stone jars that were scattered across the landscapes, as it intrigues me the most.
From Luang Prabang to Phonsavan, it cost me $150 airfare, which only took 3 hours and a few minutes to reach the destination. You can take the local bus or a minivan, but it takes 7 hours and 30 minutes, covering 263 km.
Vang Vieng for 3 days
Vang Vieng is next to this itinerary. It is popular for its outdoor activities like kayaking, rock climbing, tubing, rafting, cave exploration, and many more. It was so much fun, and I had a great time trying different stuff and thrilling activities during my 3-day adventure.
On top of that, the destination also offers an awesomely striking scenery of limestone karsts, lush greenery, and the Nam Song River, which are all picture-perfect.
So, from Phonsavan, some of the locals urged me to try to ride on a bus to appreciate more the natural beauty of Laos throughout the journey to Vang Vieng, which I did since there were no flights from Phonsavan to Vang Vien. Overall, it was a around 7-hour journey on a bus.
Vientiane for 2 days
After a nerve-racking adventure at Vang Vieng, the laid-back and tranquil ambience at Vientiane offers you a refreshing escape and a good time to take a break from rigorous activities and rest.
Vientiane is best known for its Buddhist temples and unique architectural structures, which are ideal for taking some good photos and experiencing their rich tradition and culture. Apart from that, you may also indulge yourself in sightseeing the various French colonial architecture that feels nostalgic.
More importantly, the food is great and delish. Vientiane is only an hour and a few minutes drive from Vang Vieng, so you can go straight and explore the famous sights here upon your arrival. Don’t forget to take some really good photos when you visit Patuxay and Buddha Park (Wat Xieng Khouane Luang), it’s worth it.
Pakse for 3 days
Lastly, stop by Pakse to witness the magnificent view of the Bolaven Plateau. As known for being the “Mouth of the River”, you’ll get to visit the most magical river views you’ll ever see.
Pakse, situated in the Southern part of Laos, is a must-visit destination for travellers who want to take the opportunity to explore its waterfalls and the other nearby famous tourist spots like Tad Yuang Waterfalls, Phou Asa Mountain, Wat Luang Temple, and the Four Thousand Islands.
These are only some of the popular destinations among travellers for their majestic and unreal structures, and I can assure you that they are worth visiting.
It is only an hour’s flight from Vientiane and will cost you $90, but I highly recommend you book a flight because land travel usually takes up to 12 hours and 30 minutes.
Besides, you’ll get to see and enjoy the aerial view of Laos’ diverse landscapes. As your final destination, Pakse provides the convenience of exploring neighbouring countries like Cambodia and Thailand, making it an ideal destination to conclude your trip in Laos.
Itinerary #2: North only/Slow travel (Luang Prabang, Phonsavan, Vang Vieng, Vientiane)
For travellers who prefer a slower pace and want to explore more of the Northern part of Laos, this 2 weeks in Laos itinerary is ideal for you. This will also allow you to enjoy each destination without rushing and savour every moment in Laos.
Luang Prabang is popular for its numerous monasteries and Buddhist temples, as well as various water activities. Phonsavan, on the other hand, is the go-to city for history enthusiasts for its rich culture and history, particularly the mysterious Plain of Jars.
Vang Vieng is renowned for its lovely mountains and adventurous activities that are perfect for venturesome people. Meanwhile, Vientiane is popular for its unique blend of Laos’s traditional and modern charm.
Luang Prabang for 4 days
Start your 2 weeks in Laos trip at Luang Prabang and explore the country’s ancient capital and cultural and religious hub. The UNESCO Cultural Heritage City offers you priceless memories to treasure for a lifetime.
On top of that, this destination is also perfect for solo travellers who want to experience the locals’ way of life and culture as you start your journey to its one-of-a-kind caves, waterfalls, rivers, and countryside villages.
Apart from that, you can also enjoy the Buddhist culture and visit some shrines and temples like Wat Chom Si, buy souvenirs, and try some of the various cuisines sold by the locals from the night market.
Also, never miss the chance to taste its delicious local cuisines and buy some souvenirs before moving on to your next destination. If you’re starting here, you can arrange an airport transfer to your hotel from the airport.
Phonsavan for 4 days
Next, detour to Phonsavan to find the Plain of Jars, an archaeological site of stone jars and landscapes. This city is a must-visit site for history buffs if you want to learn some stuff about their ancient civilisation.
Phonsavan, on the one hand, is popular for its comfortable and relaxing ambience.
There’s a lot to do here, you can go to some hot springs, waterfalls, museums, and many more. You’ll also get to enjoy the natural beauty of Laos, and I encourage you to try their various local cuisines – it’s very exciting!
Vang Vieng for 4 days
Vang Vieng, on the other hand, offers you a different experience with some adventurous activities like rock climbing and tubing, picturesque landscapes, and limestone karsts.
Some of the most beautiful motorbike routes are found in Vang Vieng, and it is a great way to enjoy the scenic views of villages, tropical forests, and lagoons.
Aside from that, I highly recommend you to visit Ban Pha Tang Bridge and Wat Pho Karm Chai Mong Kol temple. These destinations are all postcard-worthy sights, and I know you’ll surely love them.
Vientiane for 4 days
You will end your trip in Vientiane, the capital city that offers stunning traditional structures and unique tourist attractions like Wat Si Saket, Pha That Luang, and Haw Phra Kaew.
Vientiane allows you to experience spiritual enlightenment through the numerous temples and pagodas around the city. Aside from personally experiencing it, it’s also a great time to learn about its rich culture and history. Also, make sure not to forget to visit the must-see destinations around.
Most travellers choose to end their trip here to relax and soak into the tranquil ambience to reconnect with their inner self and find solace amidst the bustling city before heading onto their next journey.
WHAT TO DO AND SEE IN LAOS(per city)
For some ideas on activities that you can do and enjoy in Laos, I listed them below, plus a few recommendations of tours to book.
- If you’re starting your trip in Vientiane, you can book an airport transfer service
- Wander around Buddha Park (Xieng Khuan)
- Explore Vientiane via a city tour or a bike tour
- Patuxai Monument
- Museum of Contemporary Arts
- Pha That Luang – there’s a combo tour to save you time
- Wat Si Saket
- COPE Visitor Centre
- Lao National Museum
- Day trip to Nam Ngum Reservoir – read the tour reviews
- Stroll along Mekong Riverside Park
- Enjoy a traditional Lao massage
- Wat Si Muang
- Morning Market (Talat Sao)
- Take a tuk-tuk tour of the city
- Try local cuisine at the night market
- Presidential Palace
- Wat Ong Teu
- Attend a traditional Lao music and dance performance
- Discover Luang Prabang on a half-day city tour or a city tour with Pak Ou Caves trip
- Wat Xieng Thong (Golden City Temple)
- Mount Phousi – hike for a sunset view
- Royal Palace Museum
- Alms Giving Experience – combo tour with Kuang Si Waterfalls or Monk Blessing with foodie walking tour
- Wat Visounnarath temple
- Luang Prabang Night Market
- Mekong River – take a boat cruise with a visit to Pak Ou Caves, Kuang Si Falls, and local villages or check this other option
- Relax at a riverside cafe on the Mekong
- Kuang Si Waterfalls – there’s a city tour with Kuang Si Waterfalls visit or the falls with remote village hike or only Kuang Si Waterfalls tour
- Tad Sae Waterfalls
- Pak Ou Caves – go to the caves via a kayak tour
- Walk along the old town’s colonial architecture
- Attend a traditional Lao cooking class – cooking class only or the one with bamboo weaving class too
- Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre
- Explore Vang Vieng on a bike tour
- Tham Poukham (Blue Lagoon)
- Tubing on the Nam Song River – check this kayak, tubing, and zipline tour
- Tham Chang Cave
- Kayak on the Nam Song River
- Hot air ballooning for panoramic views
- Rock climbing at local limestone cliffs
- Pha Ngeun Viewpoint – go trekking
- Ziplining and Kayaking – see the tour reviews
- Book a countryside cycling tour
- Organic Mulberry Farm
- Zipline through the forest canopy
- Tham Nam (Water Cave) for cave tubing – tour for Tham Nam and Tham Xang or Tham Nam cave only
- Take a boat tour along the river
- Go off-roading with ATVs
- Watch the sunset at Nam Xay Viewpoint
- Shared transfer between Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang – see the cost
- Wat Phou (Vat Phou) Temple
- Bolaven Plateau
- Take a Mekong River Cruise
- Champasak Historical Heritage Museum
- Pha Suam Waterfall
- Xe Pian National Protected Area
- Wat Luang Temple
- 4000 Islands (Si Phan Don)
- Ride the Pakse Skyline Loop on a motorbike
- Daoheuang Market
- Tad Fane Waterfall
- Tad Yuang Waterfall
- Wat Phabad
- Ban Khone Fishing Village
- Enjoy a coffee tour at a local plantation
- Plain of Jars
- MAG UXO Visitor Center
- Tham Piu Cave
- Old Russian Tank
- Wat Phra That Foun
- Mulberries Organic Silk Farm
- Nam Ngum Lake
- Discover the local market
- Visit the Lao Traders shop for local crafts
- Ban Napia for “War Spoon” village tour
- Phoukoud District Protected Area – go for a hike
- Participate in a local cooking class
- That Ing Hang Stupa
- Dinosaur Museum
- Heuan Hinh (Stone House)
- Walk along the Mekong River promenade
- See the Old French Colonial Buildings
- Wat Xaiyaphoum Temple
- Savannakhet Provincial Museum
- Soundra Salt Factory
- Dong Natad Forest – day trip from Savannakhet
- Xe Champhone Wetland
- Wat Sayaphoum Temple
- Bird-watching at Beung Va Lake
- Take a cooking class for local cuisine
- Explore the local night market for street food and crafts
LOCAL LAOTIAN DISHES AND DRINKS TO TRY
Laotian might not be the most popular cuisine in Southeast Asia, but if you love Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Thai dishes, I’m pretty sure you’ll find a dish or two that you’ll like from Laos. Here’s a quick list of food to try during your visit, but don’t forget the best part – Beerlao.
- Laap (or Larb): A spicy salad made of minced meat (usually chicken, pork, or fish) mixed with herbs, lime juice, and roasted rice powder.
- Tam Mak Hoong (Papaya Salad): Shredded green papaya mixed with tomatoes, chillies, fish sauce, and lime juice.
- Khao Piak Sen: A noodle soup made from rice noodles, chicken or pork, and often garnished with green onions and fried garlic.
- Or Lam: A stew made from meat (often buffalo), eggplants, beans, and spiced with chilli wood and lemongrass.
- Mok Pa: Fish seasoned with herbs and spices, wrapped in banana leaves, and steamed.
- Ping Kai (Grilled Chicken): Chicken marinated in a mix of garlic, coriander, and fish sauce, then grilled.
- Sai Oua (Lao Sausage): A spicy sausage made of pork, lemongrass, and various herbs.
- Khanom Kok: Small coconut pancakes that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
- Nam Van: A sweet coconut milk-based dessert with various jellies and fruits.
- Khao Nom Kok: Spherical cakes made from rice flour and coconut milk, crispy outside with a soft, custard-like centre.
- Beerlao: The national beer, light and refreshing, perfect for the Laotian climate.
- Lao Lao: A traditional rice whiskey that can be quite potent.
- Sinthao (Green Tea): Often served complimentary in restaurants, this lightly fermented tea is a staple in Laos.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN LAOS
To finish this 2 weeks in Laos itinerary, I also have a list of accommodations in Laos that you can check out. I arrange them by budget to help you choose which ones are suitable for you.
- Affordable: Nana Backpacker Hostel or Sailomyen Hostel or Dream Home Hostel
- Mid-range: New Champa Boutique Hotel or S 2 Modern Boutique Hotel or Le Charme Vientiane Hotel
- Luxury: Lao Poet Hotel or Crowne Plaza Vientiane or Eastin Hotel Vientiane
- Affordable: Funny Riverside Backpackers or La Casa Hostel
- Mid-range: Villa Phathana Royal View Hotel or On The Mekong Resort or Merry Riverside Hotel
- Luxury: Meunna Boutique Hotel or Villa Oasis or Luang Prabang Museum Inn & Travel or Luang Prabang Villa Sirikili Hotel
- Affordable: Nana Backpackers Hostel or Vang Vieng Freedom View Hostel or VangVieng Backpackers Hostel or Vang Vieng Chill House
- Mid-range: Confetti Garden Resort or Premier Vang Vieng Hotel or Vang Vieng Freedom Star’s Hotel
- Luxury: Confetti Garden Hotel or Riverside Boutique Resort
SUMMARY OF 2 WEEKS IN LAOS ITINERARY
Laos, a hidden gem in Southeast Asia, is not only rich in history, culture, and natural wonders but also offers a unique and authentic travel experience for anyone of age. Over the course of 2 weeks, you can immerse yourself in its traditional and cultural heritage and explore its breathtaking natural wonders, landscapes, architectural structures, local cuisines, and warm-hearted locals.
It’s also a great country for those individuals seeking a serene and peaceful environment away from the buzzing city and corporate life. Hence, don’t miss the chance to discover Laos and create memories that could last a lifetime.