How to Plan a Trip to Laos

How to Plan a Trip to Laos

By Wendy Updated Oct. 22, 2021

Some of the words most frequently used to describe Laos are ancient and tranquil, because much of Laos remains untouched and not frequently visited.

Travelers to Laos will find endless UNESCO World Heritage sites to discover, beautiful old towns, stunning natural landscapes, lots of adventure and outdoor activities to keep everybody busy, as well as a unique window into many diverse ethnic arts and cultures.

Laos is great to visit on its own but can also be easily added onto a trip to its neighboring countries of Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, China, or Myanmar.

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The Best Time to Visit Laos

Laos is a great destination all year round. It has two seasons that make part of its tropical monsoon climate: the dry season from November to April, and the rainy season from May to October.

The best time to visit Laos is between November to April during the dry season.

If you’re looking to visit during a national festival, you can consider visiting between April 14th and April 16th, during Lao New Year!

Laos is also popular to visit during Buon That Luang, usually in October, which is celebrated in Vientiane’s Pha That Luang, a national symbol and religious monument. Monks and pilgrims rather here on the full moon of the twelfth lunar month for a three-day religious ceremony, making for fascinating sights and a great opportunity to learn about Buddhist traditions.

Visa Requirements for Laos

People of most nationalities do require a visa to visit Laos, but the process is relatively straightforward for citizens of most countries. You can usually enter under a visa-free agreement or get a visa on arrival but see below for your nationalities’ specific requirements!

Nationalities that can obtain a 30-day visa on arrival for Laos include: Australia, Canada, EU citizens, the UK, and the US. You can also apply for an eVisa online in advance if you prefer.

To get a visa on arrival you’ll need to have a return ticket booked and have a passport that is valid for at least six more months. You’ll get a form to fill out at your entry point (usually a major airport, but you can also apply for this when crossing over land) and will also need 2 recent passport-sized photos and your visa fee (USD 30 to 42 depending on your nationality).

Nationalities that can go to Laos for up to 30 days visa-free include: Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, and South Korea.

Nationalities that can go to Laos for up to 15 days visa-free (or can apply for a 30-day eVisa online) include: Japan, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.

To find out more information about how to apply for an eVisa, check out our guide to getting a visa for Laos here.

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How to Plan a 3- to 14-Day Tour to Laos?

While you can spend up to multiple weeks in Laos discovering all its beauty, here are some suggestions for how to split up your time in Laos.

Luang Prabang: 2–4 days

Your (likely) entry and exit point to Laos, Luang Prabang, is one of the most popular spots to visit in Laos! Walk through the old town, visit the morning market, and explore Xieng Thong Temple and the Royal Palace Museum. Luang Prabang is also a great place to sample Laotian cuisine, and a starting point for bike rides into the countryside, trips to waterfalls, and boat rides up the Mekong.

Vientiane: 2–3 days

As the capital of Laos, the city displays an interesting combination of ornate Buddhist temples and interesting French colonial architecture. Sights to visit include Wat Si Saket temple, Buddha Park (Xieng Khuan), and Pha That Luang, a massive golden temple. There is enough to keep you exploring for a few days.

Vang Vieng: 2–3 days

Often referred to as a backpackers’ paradise, Vang Vieng is a small town halfway between Vientiane and Luang Prabang. You’ll find beautiful karst landscapes and plenty of outdoor activities to do here that range from rock climbing to trekking and kayaking, as well as rafting.

Pakse: 1–4 days

Located near the Thai border to Laos, Pakse is a charming town that is a wonderful base to explore the Laotian north from. Some people stay a day to visit the town and head off to Thailand, but you can also go onto many beautiful trips into the area to visit, for example, the amazing Khmer ruins at Wat Phu and the stunning islands near the Cambodian border called Si Phan Don.

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A 3-Day Trip Itinerary in Luang Prabang

Day 1: Start off the day with a visit to the Royal Palace and its museum, built by French colonialists between 1904 and 1909. Then explore Wat Mai Palace and walk through Sisavangvong peninsula road to see the many cafes. Then head over to Wat Xieng Thong. If you still want to continue your explorations, we recommend Gallery Asiama and Ock Pop Tok Heritage to learn more about Laos’ art scene.

Day 2: Get up early to take part in one of Luang Prabang’s most ancient rituals: the giving of alms at one of over 35 wats (temples) in town. Robed monks walk through to collect rice for their day’s food every day. Afterwards, explore the morning market. In the afternoon go on a cycle out to Ban Xong Kong village.

Day 3: Today, venture further out of town to the picture-perfect Kuang Si Falls, best reached by tuk tuk. Nearby you’ll find the Kuang Si Butterfly Park as well as Free the Bears, where over 20 Asian black moon bears live following their rescue from illegal wildlife trade.

A 10- to 12-Day Trip Exploring Laos’ Highlights

Day 1 to 3: Luang Prabang (see above for three-day Luang Prabang itinerary)

Day 4 to 5: Head from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng by van in order to explore tranquil Vang Vieng and all the natural beauty it has to offer. Whether you prefer kayaking, tubing, rafting, or rock climbing, there is a little bit of outdoor adventure for everybody in these beautiful karst landscapes. Asia Highlights can also help you arrange a private transfer between Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng if you prefer.

Day 6 to 8: Get back to urban life in Laos’ capital: Vientiane. The best way to get there is by van or ask us about arranging a private transfer. There you’ll have time to visit Wat Si Saket temple, Haw Phra Kaew, the Buddha Park (Xieng Khuan), and Pha That Luang, a massive golden temple. Make sure you head over to Vientiane night market one night to sample some of the local delicacies and pick up your souvenirs to take back home!

Day 9 to 10 (or 12): Get a taste of the north of Laos in the charming village of Pakse, reached best by van or private transfer, and venture off the beaten track to visit the beautiful Khmer Wat Phu ruins. If you have extra time there, you can visit the beautiful islands of Si Phan Don on the edge of the border to Cambodia, too.

Visit Laos with Us

Discover Laos with Asia Highlights and our experts can put together your itinerary exactly as you like it. With our travel experience, we can ensure you have the most comfortable and hassle-free trip to Laos, and you don’t have to worry about transportation or accommodation, or ensuring you have enough time to cover everything as we know what to expect and how to plan your time. All you have to do is let us know your travel needs and what you most want to see, and we can design the trip of a lifetime to Laos for you.

Why Travel with Asia Highlights

  • Tailor-made experience: All of your ideas/needs will be carefully considered to create your ideal trip.
  • Worry-free planning: Every step of your trip, you will be looked after by your 1:1 travel consultant based in Asia.
  • No-risk booking: We refund as much as we can and adapt flexibly to unexpected changes.

14-Day Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos Tour

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