How Long Do I Need To Travel Laos?
Laos boasts a country with rewarding destinations full of incredible natural sights, and great waters.
It’s not a mainstream destination for tourists and travelers that go to Southeast Asia but for those who are looking for a new adventure, a five-day trip to Laos will rightfully give you a taste of their culture, sceneries, and experiences worth remembering.
Five days are generally attainable for a vacation given your schedule of work or school.
In this five-day itinerary, you’ll get to travel the cities of Laos, take an adventure down the jungle rivers, visit heritage sites, and enjoy delicious local food.
Here’s a sample itinerary to get you started:
Day One: 1st day at Vientiane
- Arrival at Wattay International Airport
- Hotel check-in
- Vientiane exploration
Your first day in Laos will be spent on getting settled in your hotel.
There are great options for hotel reservations at Vientiane ranging from hostel inns for backpackers to luxury hotels.
Depending on which country you flew from, you might want to take it easy on your first day and just explore what Vientiane can offer.
Why not start with the national symbol of Laos which is the Pha That Luang?
This sacred monument is one of the country’s most impressive religious structures.
Built in 1566, the Great Sacred Stupa or Pha That Luang is a 44-meter structure with a pinnacle that’s covered in real gold while gold-painted turrets surround the central stupa.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re religious or not, you can still visit this place to admire the impressive architecture.
If you’re going to Laos in October or November, there are a lot of Buddhist celebrations where they welcome tourists to experience their unique culture.
You can also take a sightseeing tour in Vientiane offered by a lot of travel agencies.
Your first day in Laos is also a great way to take the first bite of their local food. Skip the fancy restaurants go right to where the locals usually eat.
There are a lot of open-air food stalls in Vientiane. Most of the stalls that offer great food are crowded with locals and servers might not speak English at all so practice a little bit of patience.
A popular stall in Vientiane is Nem Nueng Sihom (Vieng Sawan) which is a great first food stop at Laos.
They offer authentic Laotian dishes for an incredibly cheap price. Don’t skip on their Vietnamese rolls and noodle dishes.
US$5 will go a long way at this stall. At that price, you can already order at least four different dishes and drinks.
Day Two: 2nd day at Vientiane
- Vientiane Talat Sao
- COPE Visitor Center
- Buddha Park
The early bird gets the worm, which in this case, is a great deal on your shopping spree.
Head to the Vientiane Morning Market (Talat Sao) where you’ll find all sorts of knickknacks from Chinese medicinal herbs, jewelry, silks, shirts, and souvenir items.
Just a bit farther from the Morning Market is the COPE Visitor Center where you can learn about the history of the Lao Civil War and the aftermath of the 260 million bombs dropped on Laos from 1964 to 1973.
The Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE) is an organization supported by the government and a group of NGOs that provides rehabilitation and artificial limbs for those people who have lost theirs because of unexploded ordinances.
The Buddha Park near Mekong River just outside of Vientiane is one bizarre destination but will surely entertain you and earn a glimpse of the culture of Laos.
The locals refer to Buddha Park as Xieng Khuan which means “Spirit City”.
If you’re picturing a typical Buddhist temple that you see across Asia that gives off a peaceful and calming feeling, then you’re in for a treat.
The Buddha Park is home to over 200 statues portraying Buddhist and Hindu lore.
It’s an understatement to say that you’ll find some, if not most, menacing to look at.
This park’s three-story dome is arranged in a way that you’ll travel to Hell, Earth, and eventually, to Heaven.
You’ll start by entering through the open mouth of a demon, ascend the stairs, then come out on the top of the dome which offers spectacular views.
Day Three: 1st day at Luang Prabang
- Transfer to Luang Prabang
- Hotel check-in
- Kuang Si Waterfalls
- Night Food Stalls
You can’t go to Laos without taking a trip to the World Heritage city of Luang Prabang. For your third day, take an early trip to this city by either taking the bus or a domestic flight.
A bus ride will take you a good six to seven hours so make sure to check your schedule but a flight to Vientiane to Luang Prabang will only take around 45 minutes.
Once you’re settled in, spend the majority of your day trekking to the Kuang Si Waterfalls. For many tourists, a trip to Luang Prabang is a chance to see this magnificent emerald water.
You can cycle through the countryside to get to the falls, but it’s recommended to sign up for a day tour from a local traveling agency.
Once you’re there, you can trek through the jungle and watch how the tiers of perfectly sculpted limestone pools appear.
There are also plunge pools at the base of this fall so you can take a relaxing swim.
The milky blue water of these falls will easily be one of the most memorable destinations of your Laos trip.
Head on back to the city and straight to the Night Food Stalls of Luang Prabang located directly behind their main tourist office for a scrumptious dinner at a perfectly cheap price.
This night market sets up daily at sunset and offers the authentic taste of Laos. You’ll find many small tables set up filled with many pots of dishes.
They offer a wide variety of selection, even the vegetarian ones. Try many of their vegetable-based dishes and fresh seafood.
Day Four: 2nd day at Luang Prabang
- Royal Palace Museum
- Green Jungle Park
- Handicraft Night Market
Start your day with one of the famous destinations in Luang Prabang, the Royal Palace Museum.
Locally known as Haw Kam which means Golden Palace, this opulent structure was once the home of a King but is now converted into a museum to showcase the rich history of Laos.
Expect to see a lot of gold artifacts including a 2,000year-old Buddha made out of solid gold.
Take the time to watch the Phra Lak Phra Ram or the Dance at the Royal Museum, which is an adaptation of Ramayana, a famous Hindu epic.
This performance is about two hours long with a live orchestra, graceful dancers, and spectacular display.
Thirty minutes away from the museum is the Green Jungle Park which is a slice of nature in the middle of the countryside.
Try out their many zip-lining adventures and rope courses, or even a combination of both which will take around an hour and a half to complete.
Their zip line course is around 1,300 meters long composed of 15 stations with the highest peak of 55 meters while the rope course includes various obstacle-activities like monkey bridge and spider rope.
You can even join a two-hour trek to the Hoi Khua Waterfalls which is a restricted trek area only accessed by a Green Jungle Park guide.
End your tiring night with another retail therapy at the Handicraft Night Market located at Th Sisavangvong.
This market is perfect to find local handicrafts like silk pieces, textiles, ceramics, bamboo carvings, clothes, and jewelry.
Definitely a one-stop-shop for your souvenir and gifting needs.
Day Five: Last day at Laos
- Last-minute city exploring
- Food trip
- Departure at Luang Prabang International Airport
Spend your last day at Laos chilling around the city and taking a food trip while waiting for your flight back home.
Take some time to visit nearby temples for a good photo op or a nice chill stroll.
Visit the Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham which is around 11 minutes from the airport and is famous for its incredible architecture.
This monastery is known for having five roofs stacked on top of each other and multiple series of murals that depict the life of the Buddha and Ramayana.
You can’t leave Luang Prabang yet without eating their local food.
While you may already have some at their night food stalls, here is a couple of their dishes that you should eat before you leave the country:
- Larb. This dish that made a cameo on Spiderman: Homecoming is a special cuisine in Luang Prabang that can be made with mushrooms, fish, or any meat flavored with lime juice, fish sauce, and fresh herbs. Eat it with raw vegetables and sticky rice and this dish will surely wrap up your Laotian adventure.
- Lao sausage. Locally known as Sou Oa, their take on sausage is made out of coarsely chopped fatty pork with a whole lot of flavorings like lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal.
- Khao Jee. This Laotian baguette can be seen sold at every street corner in Luang Prabang. A traditional one is made with pork meat, tomatoes, carrot, and cheese topped with chili sauce. You can also add chicken, avocado, and bacon depending on the stall’s availability.
Five days is a solid trip to Laos that is achievable by anyone who’s taking a break from their busy days.
But of course, Laos still has a lot to offer and it’s definitely recommended to stay longer if you can.
If not, it’s not a bad idea to go back here and visit more of this country’s tourist hotspots like Pakse-Champasak, Bokeo, Champasak, and Savannakhet.