Laos

Laos is a Southeast Asian country traversed by the Mekong River and known for mountainous terrain, French colonial architecture, hill tribe settlements and Buddhist monasteries. I’d remember Laos like one of the most amazing countries, rich for its pure nature, breathtaking views and landscapes, delicious food and stunning cities such as Luang Prabang.

We spent one week in Laos, landed at Vientiane’s airport and made our way north to Vang Vieng, and then Luang Prabang. Here you will find amazing photography of the three cities we visited as the last leg of our Southeast Asian trip. Find where to stay, see & do, best food, and the trip map.

1. Stay

We stayed at the following hotels and hostels:

↠ Vientiane at Mali Namphu Hotel. A small hotel with a lovely rear garden and pool.
↠ Vang Vieng at Magic Monkey Garden. A little bit out of town but highly recommended! The sunset views from the swimming pool area are pretty cool and they organise Laotian barbecues on Tuesday night.
↠ Luang Prabang at Khoum Xieng Thong Boutique Villa. Small hotel surrounded by Buddhist temples. They helped us to attend “Tak Bat”, the alms giving ceremony.

2. Eat & Drink

Vientiane:

We stayed one night in Vientiane so we can only recommend this one place.
↠ Enjoy great Laotian dishes (Luang Prabang sausage, láhp variations, stir-fried morning glory…) at Lao Kitchen.

Vang Vieng:

Vang Vieng is a touristic place and as such, the restaurants in town try to cater to western and Korean tastes. That being said, the limited Laotian food offer is reasonably good.
↠ If you want to enjoy a low seating, laid back meal, go to the restaurants situated near the Nam Song.
↠ Enjoy great Thai food at Happy Mango.
↠ Try a Laotian barbecue from one of the stalls.

Luang Prabang:

Famous for its 33 Buddhist temples, but the food scene is also top-class.
↠ Le Banneton Cafe. On the quiet end of the Old Quarter’s peninsula. It’s an excellent spot to enjoy fair-trade coffee and French pastries in the morning.
↠ A romantic dinner at Le Calao.
↠ Any restaurant on the Mekong riverbank to enjoy the sunset with a Lao beer and some nibbles. We tried Saffron.
↠ Feast on a selection of starters at Coconut Garden Luang Prabang. We really enjoyed our lunch here, scroll down to see some pictures.

3. See & Do

Vientiane:

For us, Vientiane was only the port of entry to Laos and we spent little time here. However, there are a few things you shouldn’t miss.

↠ If you rent a tuk-tuk you can do a tour of the main monuments.

  • Pha That Luang, the gold-covered Buddhist stupa, probably the most important monument in Laos.
  • Wat Si Saket, the oldest surviving temple in Vientiane.
  • Patuxai, Vientiane’s Arc de Triomphe.

↠ Shop at the riverside night market. Every night at sunset.

↠ Take some time to go to COPE Visitors Centre and get an idea of what the Laotians have gone through. Unexploded ordnance (UXO) is still taking lives here.

Vang Vieng:

Still known as the party capital of Laos, but we couldn’t comment on that. We came here for the breathtaking sights, hikes, and Laotian live in the rural villages.

↠ One of the first recommendations you’ll get is to do the blue lagoons circuit, as this is the most famous sight. We went to the first one and got really disappointed, the lagoons are far from unspoiled. Surrounded by cheap shops and packed with tourists in fluorescent life jackets.
We would still recommend renting a moped and doing the circuit though. This way you will enjoy the views along the way and stop many times to take in the scenery.

↠ Go to at least one of the two most famous viewpoints, Nam Xay or Pha Ngeun. We did the first one, and the views from the top are really spectacular. It’s on the way to Blue Lagoon 1, you’ll see a signpost and a small hut with two kids collecting the fee to go to the top.

↠ You can also do tubing, kayaking, hot ballooning or all of them if you have the time. The easiest way to book it is from your hostel’s front desk.

↠ After a month travelling through South-eastern Asia, we already had our fair share of caves. But if you are into it, there are a few ones that are meant to be quite impressive.

Luang Prabang:

A UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. This city is not just Buddhist temples, but also French colonial-era buildings, waterfalls, and superb cuisine. This is a peaceful and charming city that you will not want to leave.

↠ Rent a moped and visit the Kuang Si Falls. It’s some 30km from the city centre but you won’t regret it. Take your swimwear with you.

↠ Climb to the top of the Phu Si hill and enjoy the sunset.

↠ Attend the “Tak Bat“, the alms giving ceremony, it takes place every day at 5.30am. If you want to take part and not just watch it is better if you get advice from your hotel. You have to dress respectfully and bring sticky rice for the monks.

↠ Visit the Royal Palace Museum, or at least walk around the gardens and the Buddhist Temple.

Vang Vieng is the perfect spot for renting a motorbike and wandering around. Be aware that is not the most comfortable ride though, but still worth it. The picture above was taken at Vieng Tara Villa

Nam Xai viewpoint is a breathtaking experience and a must when in Vang Vieng. It’s a 45min hike, the path gets a bit difficult towards the end. Try to wear comfy shoes and carry a bottle of water with you

We spent an entire day doing the circuit around Vang Vieng. This way you will enjoy the views along the way and stop many times to take in the scenery and appreciate Laotian live in the rural villages

One of the first recommendations you’ll get is to do the blue lagoons circuit, as this is the most famous sight. We went to the first one and got really disappointed, the lagoons are far from unspoiled. Surrounded by cheap shops and packed with tourists in fluorescent life jackets

We really enjoyed our lunch at Coconut Garden. We ordered Jaew Bong, Kai Paen, Luang Prabang salad, spring rolls and sticky rice

Rent a moped and visit the Kuang Si Falls. It’s some 30km from the city centre but you won’t regret it. Take your swimwear with you!

If you enjoyed one week in Laos you might want to check out the rest of our Southeast Asian trip


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