Laos has so much to offer it can’t be ‘done’ in a fortnight, so focus on one region or cherry-pick from our list of its top sights, treks, homestays, tours and even the Most Secret Place on Earth
Landlocked, communist, studded with limestone spires and gilded temples, riddled with caves and home to rare wildlife, Laos has a unique charm for adventurous travellers. They relish its sleepy atmosphere, charming people and the sharp contrast with Thailand or Vietnam.
If you don’t have the backpacker’s luxury of boundless time and can only spend a couple of weeks in Laos, it’s an idea to focus on one region or cherry-pick sites connected by flights using Lao Airlines. With long distances and less-than-great roads (this is one of the least-developed countries in south-east Asia), river and air transport make sense.
Laos is popular with bicyclists, kayakers and bikers, too. The main international gateway to Laos is Luang Prabang, and as no one visits Laos for the first time without soaking up the essence of this city, our one to two-week itinerary starts here.
As always, these are just suggestions. What’s amazing about traveling in this part of the world is that you can always improvise. If you have more than one week in Laos, consider keeping your plans a little flexible. You might hear of interesting things from other travelers while you’re there, so it’s nice to have some extra time for unexpected adventures.
LAOS ITINERARY FOR 1 WEEK
If your time in Laos is limited, then you might want to follow a tried-and-true route that is easy to follow.
The Luang Prabang to Vientiane route is exactly that. It’s been traveled for decades, carved out initially by backpackers in the 1990’s. (Back then, Laos visas were only valid for these places, creating the original Laos tourist trail. Today, you can travel in Laos anywhere.)
LAOS ITINERARY FOR 2 WEEKS
This route is an expansion of the classic Laos route, taking in more of the north. If you have the time I highly recommend it, as you’ll be visiting a few more off-the-beaten-path places.
Many travelers also consider the north of Laos the most scenic, as it’s the most mountainous region with a low population density. It’s great for experiencing the natural beauty of Laos.
LAOS ITINERARY FOR 3 WEEKS
This itinerary includes everything I’ve just mentioned, with the added bonus of visiting the south of Laos!
The south tip of Laos is in some ways a bit less scenic as it’s much less mountainous. The Mekong River becomes really wide here and the landscapes are flatter and covered in rice fields. It’s basically the agricultural epicenter of Laos, with landscapes more reminiscent of southern Vietnam.
All those popular & remote spots can also be visited on a tour with Ftrip.