The Ultimate Backpacker’s Itinerary: Two Weeks in Laos

The Ultimate Backpacker’s Itinerary: Two Weeks in Laos

Laos, often referred to as the “jewel of Southeast Asia,” is an adventurer’s dream. Its serene landscapes, rich culture, and warm-hearted people create an unforgettable experience for any traveler. This two-week itinerary aims to help backpackers make the most of their time in this stunning country, blending cultural enrichment, natural beauty, and a touch of adventure.

Day 1-3: Vientiane

Day 1: Arrival and Exploration

Kick-off your adventure by flying into Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. After settling in, start with a leisurely exploration of the city. Visit Patuxai, Vientiane’s Arc de Triomphe, offering fantastic views from the top. Stroll along the Mekong River, where you can enjoy a sunset view and sample local street food.

Day 2: Historical and Cultural Immersion

Dedicate your second day to delving into Laos’ history. Start with the COPE Visitor Centre, which provides insights into the country’s unexploded ordnance (UXO) problem. Move on to Pha That Luang, the most important national monument in Laos. End the day with a visit to Wat Si Saket, noted for its cloister wall housing thousands of tiny Buddha images.

Day 3: Day Trip to Buddha Park

Take a day trip to Buddha Park, located around 25 kilometers southeast of Vientiane. The park, filled with over 200 Hindu and Buddhist statues, offers a surreal and fascinating experience. Return to Vientiane for another night to prepare for the journey north.

Day 4-6: Vang Vieng

Day 4: Journey to Vang Vieng

Travel to Vang Vieng, a town known for its dramatic limestone karst landscape and adventure activities. The bus ride takes about 4-5 hours. Spend the evening settling in and exploring the local area.

Day 5: Adventure and Relaxation

Start early with a hot air balloon ride for a bird’s-eye view of the stunning landscape. Later, engage in some adventure activities like tubing down the Nam Song River, rock climbing, or exploring the Tham Phu Kham Cave. In the evening, relax by the river or join the bustling backpacker nightlife.

Day 6: Blue Lagoon and Hiking

Visit the famous Blue Lagoon and enjoy a refreshing swim in its turquoise waters. Spend the rest of the day hiking to viewpoints like Pha Ngeun, offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Return to your accommodation to rest for the journey ahead.

Day 7-9: Luang Prabang

Day 7: Travel to Luang Prabang

Catch an early bus or mini-van to Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage city known for its well-preserved architecture and vibrant cultural scene. The journey takes about 6-7 hours. Spend the evening wandering through the Night Market and tasting local delicacies.

Day 8: Temples and Waterfalls

Explore the city’s spiritual side by visiting Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Mai, and the Royal Palace Museum. In the afternoon, take a tuk-tuk to the Kuang Si Waterfalls, where you can swim in the blue pools and hike to the top of the falls. Return to town for dinner at a riverside restaurant.

Day 9: Alms Giving Ceremony and Mekong River

Wake up early to participate in or observe the Alms Giving Ceremony, a traditional practice where monks collect food offerings from locals. Later, take a boat trip on the Mekong River to visit the Pak Ou Caves, known for their thousands of Buddha statues. End the day with a visit to the UXO Laos Visitor Center to learn more about the country’s history.

Day 10-12: Nong Khiaw

Day 10: Journey to Nong Khiaw

Take a bus or van to Nong Khiaw, a small village nestled among limestone cliffs and the Nam Ou River. The trip takes around 4-5 hours. Spend the evening relaxing and soaking in the natural beauty of this serene location.

Day 11: Hiking and Kayaking

Start your day with a hike to the Nong Khiaw Viewpoint for a breathtaking panorama of the area. In the afternoon, rent a kayak and paddle along the Nam Ou River, exploring nearby caves and villages. Enjoy a quiet evening by the riverside.

Day 12: Muang Ngoi Neua

Take a boat trip to the nearby village of Muang Ngoi Neua, renowned for its tranquility and stunning scenery. Spend the day exploring the village, hiking to nearby caves, and interacting with the locals. Return to Nong Khiaw in the evening.

Day 13-14: Back to Vientiane and Departure

Day 13: Return to Vientiane

Travel back to Vientiane, which will take most of the day. Once back in the capital, spend your final evening revisiting your favorite spots or discovering new ones, such as the vibrant Ban Anou Night Market.

Day 14: Departure

Use your final day for any last-minute shopping or sightseeing. Ensure you arrive at the airport in good time for your departure flight, carrying with you unforgettable memories of your Laotian adventure.


1. What is the best time to visit Laos?

The best time to visit Laos is from November to February when the weather is cool and dry. This period is ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing.

2. Do I need a visa for Laos?

Most travelers need a visa to enter Laos. You can obtain a visa on arrival at major airports and land border crossings or apply for an e-visa online.

3. What is the currency used in Laos?

The currency used in Laos is the Lao Kip (LAK). However, US dollars and Thai Baht are also widely accepted in tourist areas.

4. Is Laos safe for solo travelers?

Laos is generally safe for solo travelers. However, like any destination, it’s important to stay vigilant, avoid isolated areas at night, and keep your belongings secure.

5. What should I pack for a trip to Laos?

Pack lightweight, breathable clothing suitable for hot weather, comfortable walking shoes, a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a reusable water bottle. If you plan to visit temples, bring modest clothing that covers your shoulders and knees.

6. Are there any health precautions to consider?

It’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional about vaccinations and medications. Common recommendations include vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and routine vaccines. Additionally, consider taking anti-malarial tablets if you plan to visit rural areas.

7. Can I use my credit card in Laos?

Credit cards are accepted in larger hotels, restaurants, and shops in major cities, but it’s best to carry cash for transactions in smaller towns and rural areas.

8. What’s the local cuisine like?

Laotian cuisine features sticky rice, fresh vegetables, herbs, and meats. Popular dishes include laap (a minced meat salad), tam mak hoong (spicy green papaya salad), and khao soi (a noodle soup). Be sure to try the local Beerlao as well.

Embark on this two-week journey through Laos, immersing yourself in its captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re an adventure seeker or a culture enthusiast, Laos promises an unforgettable experience.

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