Backpacking Laos

Hello to all seasoned and aspiring backpackers!
Laos is more than just a short stopover. Although the landlocked country has no coasts or white sandy beaches, it offers breathtaking nature. A large part of Laos is covered by pristine tropical rainforests with unique flora and fauna. The Mekong, the longest river in Asia (where you might see river dolphins), and the unique landscape of the '4,000 Islands' in the south of the country are also worth seeing.
Its originality and tranquility give you the feeling that time has stood still. The Laotians' relaxed way of life is contagious and makes you forget the stress of everyday life in no time.
But if you get tired of the calm and relaxed atmosphere, you can still get your money’s worth in Laos. Adrenaline junkies can romp around too, as there are lots of outdoor activities such as tubing, trekking, rafting, or kayaking. In addition to the charming landscape, the Buddhist center of Southeast Asia offers impressive temple buildings as well as interesting culture and history to discover.
But above all, it is the people who make a trip through Laos a very special experience with their open-heart, helpful and uncomplicated, relaxed manner.
You will also find the cheapest accommodation in Southeast Asia and you will pay much less for public transport, excursions, and food than in the neighboring countries, so it is the perfect destination for low-budget travelers.
We’ve created the perfect itinerary that’ll take you along the most spectacular corners of Laos. Pack your bags and let’s go!


Important Basics

Official Language ( Lao )
EnglishLao
HelloSabaidi
GoodbyeLa gon
Thank youKhobchai
YesDoi
NoBaw
Capital City

Vientiane

Form of Government

One-party system People’s Republic

Best Time to Visit

November to March

Fun Facts
  • The national flower of Laos is the Dok Champa.
  • A stamp costs €2 in Laos.
  • Laos is the only landlocked country in South Asia.
  • Laotians celebrate the New Year mid-April.

Cities

Bangkok

The cheapest way to travel to Laos is through a stop-over at Bangkok, South East Asia's travel hub.

It is worth spending a few days in the lively capital of Thailand before continuing your journey.

Visit sights like the Grand Palace, Floating Market or Golden Mount and get to know the exciting Thai culture. You will stay at Green House Hostel for €8 a night in a single room, only a few minutes’ walk from the legendary party mile Kao San Road, before you head off to Laos.

Luang Prabang

You’ll fly from Bangkok to Luang Prabang. Flights start at €50.

This is a huge contrast to the chaotic Thai metropolis. The old royal capital Luang Prabang is the Buddhist center of Laos and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Every morning at sunrise, hundreds of monks from more than 50 monasteries in the surrounding area come in flocks into the quiet city. They walk through the streets of Luang Prabang in their orange robes, receive donations from the inhabitants and return to the monasteries afterward – a stunning mystical ritual.

The former palace, the oldest temple of Wat Xieng Thong, the night market as well as the old town with its French colonial buildings, small cafés, and traditional shops are also worth seeing. You'll have the best view over the city from Mount Phou Si, especially during sunset.

You can stay in one of the hostels downtown and get a bed in a 6-person dorm for €6 a night.

Vang Vieng

The journey continues by bus for about €16 to Vang Vieng. We recommend a seat at the window because the hilly road between Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng is one of the most beautiful routes in Asia.

The small town on the river Nam Xong is situated in the middle of impressive karst formations and a dense rainforest. The numerous karst rocks, caves, waterfalls, and rice fields in the vicinity of the city are best explored by motorbike or on a bicycle tour. A special highlight is also a visit to the Blue Lagoon including a zip-line, swings, and a diving platform.

Vang Vieng is also known for tubing. You can float down the river on the inflated tube of a truck tire. There are also other activities such as rafting, caving, and kayaking so you definitely won’t get bored.

An overnight stay in a 4-bed dorm costs about €6 a night.

Vientiane

Next on the list is Vientiane. You reach the capital for €7 by bus.

You will find many buildings from the colonial period here as well as impressive temples, such as Wat Si Saket, the oldest temple in the country with more than 2,000 Buddha images. If that’s not enough for you, you can see even more bizarre representations of Buddha and Hindu gods in the Buddha Park Xieng Khuan.

The Patuxay triumphal arch, the Lao National History Museum, and the Chao Anouvong Park on the Mekong with its idyllic promenade are also worth seeing. The night market takes place directly on the river, with a huge range of goods from clothing, jewelry, and leather goods to food, art, and souvenirs.

In Vientiane, you can get a bed in a 4-person dorm for €7 a night.

Bangkok

You’ll take the night train back to Bangkok for about €21.

You have a few days left until the end of your journey through South East Asia. Whether it's a relaxing spa treatment with a massage, delicious Thai food, or a wild party night in one of the countless bars and clubs, it is entirely up to you.

You can stay in one of Bangkok’s hostels for €7 a night in a single room. Let the memories of your trip wash over you as you wait for your flight back home! 

On the flight back, you’re sure to remember your wonderful adventure fondly and already start planning the next one. We’re curious to see where you’ll go next!


Bangkok

Bangkok

The cheapest way to travel to Laos is through a stop-over at Bangkok, South East Asia's travel hub.

It is worth spending a few days in the lively capital of Thailand before continuing your journey.

Visit sights like the Grand Palace, Floating Market or Golden Mount and get to know the exciting Thai culture. You will stay at Green House Hostel for €8 a night in a single room, only a few minutes’ walk from the legendary party mile Kao San Road, before you head off to Laos.

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang

You’ll fly from Bangkok to Luang Prabang. Flights start at €50.

This is a huge contrast to the chaotic Thai metropolis. The old royal capital Luang Prabang is the Buddhist center of Laos and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Every morning at sunrise, hundreds of monks from more than 50 monasteries in the surrounding area come in flocks into the quiet city. They walk through the streets of Luang Prabang in their orange robes, receive donations from the inhabitants and return to the monasteries afterward – a stunning mystical ritual.

The former palace, the oldest temple of Wat Xieng Thong, the night market as well as the old town with its French colonial buildings, small cafés, and traditional shops are also worth seeing. You'll have the best view over the city from Mount Phou Si, especially during sunset.

You can stay in one of the hostels downtown and get a bed in a 6-person dorm for €6 a night.

Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng

The journey continues by bus for about €16 to Vang Vieng. We recommend a seat at the window because the hilly road between Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng is one of the most beautiful routes in Asia.

The small town on the river Nam Xong is situated in the middle of impressive karst formations and a dense rainforest. The numerous karst rocks, caves, waterfalls, and rice fields in the vicinity of the city are best explored by motorbike or on a bicycle tour. A special highlight is also a visit to the Blue Lagoon including a zip-line, swings, and a diving platform.

Vang Vieng is also known for tubing. You can float down the river on the inflated tube of a truck tire. There are also other activities such as rafting, caving, and kayaking so you definitely won’t get bored.

An overnight stay in a 4-bed dorm costs about €6 a night.

Vientiane

Vientiane

Next on the list is Vientiane. You reach the capital for €7 by bus.

You will find many buildings from the colonial period here as well as impressive temples, such as Wat Si Saket, the oldest temple in the country with more than 2,000 Buddha images. If that’s not enough for you, you can see even more bizarre representations of Buddha and Hindu gods in the Buddha Park Xieng Khuan.

The Patuxay triumphal arch, the Lao National History Museum, and the Chao Anouvong Park on the Mekong with its idyllic promenade are also worth seeing. The night market takes place directly on the river, with a huge range of goods from clothing, jewelry, and leather goods to food, art, and souvenirs.

In Vientiane, you can get a bed in a 4-person dorm for €7 a night.

Bangkok

Bangkok

You’ll take the night train back to Bangkok for about €21.

You have a few days left until the end of your journey through South East Asia. Whether it's a relaxing spa treatment with a massage, delicious Thai food, or a wild party night in one of the countless bars and clubs, it is entirely up to you.

You can stay in one of Bangkok’s hostels for €7 a night in a single room. Let the memories of your trip wash over you as you wait for your flight back home! 

On the flight back, you’re sure to remember your wonderful adventure fondly and already start planning the next one. We’re curious to see where you’ll go next!

Laos Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home – Bangkok
Home – Bangkok
Flight
250
Private room
7
2. Bangkok
Bangkok
-
Private room
7
3. Bangkok - Luang Prabang
Bangkok - Luang Prabang
Flight
50
6-person dorm
6
4. Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang
-
6-person dorm
6
5. Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang
-
6-person dorm
6
6. Luang Prabang – Vang Vieng
Luang Prabang – Vang Vieng
Bus
16
4-person dorm
6
7. Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng
-
4-person dorm
6
8. Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng
-
4-person dorm
6
9. Vang Vieng - Vientiane
Vang Vieng - Vientiane
Bus
7
4-person dorm
7
10. Vientiane
Vientiane
-
4-person dorm
7
11. Vientiane
Vientiane
-
4-person dorm
7
12. Vientiane – Bangkok
Vientiane – Bangkok
Night train
21
Night train
13. Bangkok
Bangkok
-
Private room
7
14. Bangkok - Home
Bangkok - Home
Flight
250
-

Total price.

Flights 550,00
Transportation 44,00
Tours 89,00
Accommodation 0,00
Total683,00

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Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Klao niaw: a classic breakfast with a very sticky consistency. You can either eat it sweet as a dessert, or add some vegetables and meat for a spicy lunch.

Rice noodles: the Laotians usually have a very simple breakfast with some rice noodles in vegetable broth. Fish is also often served for breakfast.

Soups

Khausoy: this dish is like Pho in Vietnam and also has a similar taste. The Khausoy soup comes from Luang Prabang and is made of rice noodles and herbs. It has chopped meat and paprika or carrots and you can order it as spicy as you like.

Main courses

Laap: this is a very famous dish in Laos. It is very meaty and usually consists of chicken, pork or beef. It is served with chopped liver, lemon juice and, of course, lots of spiciness. It can be combined with salad.

Papaya salad: a sweet and salty mixture. If you like this mix then papaya salad might be the right thing for you. The papaya is unripe and prepared with rice. Add lettuce for a typical Laos dish. 

Baguette: a common street food in Laos due to the French colonial period. Filled with different kinds of meat, vegetables and salad, the bread can be bought everywhere for cheap. You can order it as spicy as you like.

Sindat Lao Barbecue: a very special dish. This soup is made of various ingredients like grilled vegetables and meat, then cooked in a pot over hot coals. 

Drinks

Beerlao: a world-renowned beer. The best in Laos!.

Rice Whiskey:  produced in Laos, the locals like to drink it in the evening.

Coffee Pakxong:  a very delicious traditional coffee in Laos that you can try it in any small café at reasonable prices.

Laos

The exchange rate for 10000 Lao kip (K) is around €0.72 (as of May 2022). See prices for certain products and the cost of living below:

Cost of Living 

Food

Free time

Personal hygiene

Dos

Avoid touristy places. You will get to know the real Laos in the mountain villages where you’ll get great insights into the traditional and original side of the country.

Sabai dee – the Lao word for hello should definitely become part of your vocabulary.

Bow down a little when you walk past a seated person. This is considered to be a form of respect and is therefore an important rule for your journey.

Don'ts

Noise – that doesn't belong here. The locals swear by peacefully living together and communicating, any kind of noise and loud voices will not be tolerated because this destroys the peace of the country.

Don’t touch any monk. There are many of them and that is why it is so important that you neither touch them nor talk to them.

Don’t cross your legs – the foot is considered to be a dirty part of your body and by crossing your legs, the person opposite you will see that dirty part.

Buying animal products, like leather or fur. It's better to not look at it at all. This improves the country’s biodiversity and makes a clear statement against the poachers!

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Yes

Temporary passport

Yes

National ID

No

Temporary national ID

No

Child’s pass

Yes

Visa

Yes

Vaccine

Robert Koch Instituts

Additional Remarks.

Travel documents must be valid for at least six months upon entry and should contain at least three blank pages. Please also inform yourself on the current entry regulations regarding the Corona virus. Current information about this can be found at your country’s Foreign Office.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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