Backpacking LAOS: Cheap & Easy Travel for 5 Days in Vientiane and Luang Prabang

Laos or Lao People's Democratic Republic is a small country in Southeast Asia landlocked by the countries Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, more popularly known as the Indochina region. With their proximity from each other, some travelers criss cross these countries to cover all of them on a single trip, but going on Laos alone isn't a bad idea either. Whatever your route or travel plan is, make sure not to miss Laos and this blog entry tells you why.

What to see in Laos?

Laos is a natural gem of Indochina and Southeast Asia. It's gifted mostly by beautiful waterfalls, mountains, and other natural resources. I got to spend 5 days and 4 nights in Laos where I was able to cover 2 cities, Vientiane and Luang Prabang. Here's a rundown of what I did and the recommended places:

Day 1: Vientiane

While very few speak English in Laos, the street signs are reliable and so you won't get lost in the capital. As general tip, Lan Xang Avenue serves as good reference point in the city center because it's where most tourist attractions are at.

Patuxai Monument

At the end of Lan Xang Avenue is a very noticeable Patuxai Monument, a memorial for all the heroes of war during the French colonial period. Its Europe-inspired architecture highly resembles the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Entrance fee: 3,000 kip if you want to climb the monument to get a 360-degree view of the city.

Presidential Palace

At the other end of Lan Xang Avenue is the Presidential Palace where all important ceremonies and events of the government are held. Though not open to public, the exterior is a sure standout thus a good stop for taking photos.

Entrance fee: Free

Sisaket Temple

The Wat Si Saket or Sisaket Temple is one of the oldest temples in Vientiane. It's distinctly known for the striking and yellowish color of the pillars. Several bronze and stone Buddhas can be seen around. Try going in the morning to catch the locals and monks praying in this temple.

Entrance fee: 5,000 kip

Day 2: Vientiane

Pha That Luang

Seeing Pha That Luang was the highlight of my short trip to Vientiane. Also known as the Great Sacred Stupa, it's the main religious monument in the capital. Buddhists believe that it contains relics (a breastbone) of Buddha. Pha That Luang is also a national symbol of Laos. In fact, an image of it is depicted in their banknotes.

Entrance fee: 5,000 kip

Mekong River

What's good about Vientiane is that despite being a city, the riverside provides a relaxing suburb feel. If you've been around Southeast Asia, you probably heard of Mekong River already. It's a long river that flows throughout the Indochina peninsula. The side of Mekong River in Vientiane is a perfect spot to catch the sunset. Then, stay until nighttime to chill at the riverside bars and restaurants.

Entrance fee: Free

Chao Anouvong Park

Next to Mekong River is this small park featuring a huge bronze statue of Chao Anouvong, Laos’ last king from the Lan Xang Kingdom. A short stop here is nice for taking photos and marveling at the size of the statue.

Entrance fee: Free

Day 3: Luang Prabang

On the third day, I left Vientiane at 8:30PM then took an 11-hour VIP sleeper bus to Luang Prabang, a province north of the capital and was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its rich cultural heritage. Here are a few places that I visited in the province:

Mount Phousi

From downtown, you can climb for 20-30 minutes to Mount Phousi, a 150-meter hill with a total of 335 steps. It sits between 2 rivers, the Mekong River and Khan River. The view from the top is breathtaking and a good place to catch the sunrise or sunset.

Entrance fee: 20,000 kip

Luang Prabang Night Market

Starting at 6:00PM, the stretch of Sisavangvong Road gets closed for the Luang Prabang night market. Vendors slowly pull out and spread different products for sale, which are mostly souvenir items. Similar to other night markets in Asia, it's very common to haggle for the price here. Cheap and delicious local food are also in the night market. (The Lao baguette is a must-try!)

Entrance fee: Free
* Prices of items at the night market vary. Make sure to bargain. Fridge magnets, for example, usually start at 30,000 kip but I was able to bring the price down to 15,000 kip.

Day 4: Luang Prabang

Kuang Si Falls

As said, a trip to Luang Prabang won’t be complete without seeing the natural gem Kuang Si Falls, a huge 150-meter waterfall that consists of 3 tiers where you can climb up to the peak. Looking at it is like a painting that came to life, and it's truly a gift from nature. A 30-minute trek to the top can let visitors swim in the mini pools located at the peak (Tip: Two trails are available. The easier trail is at the left when facing the waterfalls)

Kuang Si Falls is far from downtown Luang Prabang, so a cheap way to get there is by joining a half day group tour that's usually composed of 12-15 participants. This tour is convenient since an air-conditioned van fetches you from your accommodation. The rate usually starts at 50,000 kip. Another way is to get a group of 6 travelers and negotiate a two-way ride with a tuktuk driver.

Entrance fee: 20,000 kip

Day 5: Luang Prabang

Old Quarter

The Old Quarter is a long street of ancestral buildings preserved through the years. Looking at this street is like traveling back in time. It's a cool place to meet backpackers as most of the restaurants, bars, and guest houses are in the area.

Entrance fee: Free

How to go to Laos?

At the moment, there's no direct flight from the Philippines to Laos yet. With that, the cheapest route I found was from Manila to Kuala Lumpur and then Kuala Lumpur to Vientiane. On the way back, instead of returning to Vientiane, I departed in Luang Prabang to save time and money.

How much to spend in Laos?

In Philippine peso, my expenses only summed up to around PHP16,000 including airfare, airport taxes, accommodations, food, transportation, and other basics. Overall, I can say that Laos is cheap. Here's a breakdown of the expenses:

Expense Details
PHP 1620
Philippine Airport Tax
PHP 700
Manila to Kuala Lumpur flight (promo fare)
PHP 2990
Kuala Lumpur to Vientiane flight (promo fare)
PHP 3300
Luang Prabang to Kuala Lumpur flight (promo fare)
PHP 1125
Kuala Lumpur to Manila flight (promo fare)
207,000 kip (PHP 1258)
Transportation in Vientiane for 2 days
105,000 kip (PHP 638)
Accommodation in Vientiane for 1 day
13,000 kip (PHP 79)
Entrance fees to attractions in Vientiane
100,500 kip (PHP 611)
Food expenses in Vientiane for 2 days
150,000 kip (PHP 912)
VIP sleeper bus to Vientiane
60,000 kip (PHP 365)
Transportation in Luang Prabang for 3 days
163,645 kip (PHP 995)
Accommodation in Luang Prabang for 3 days
50,000 kip (PHP 304)
Kuang Si Falls half day tour
40,000 kip (PHP 243)
Entrance fees to attractions in Luang Prabang
189,000 kip (PHP 1152)
Food expenses in Luang Prabang for 3 days
65,000 kip (PHP 395)

TOTAL: PHP 16,687

Have you been to Laos? What do you think about the Kuang Si Falls?

If this blog has given you helpful information, or has inspired you in any way, a little amount would help me maintain it!

Backpacking LAOS: Cheap & Easy Travel for 5 Days in Vientiane and Luang Prabang Backpacking LAOS: Cheap & Easy Travel for 5 Days in Vientiane and Luang Prabang Reviewed by Shelly Viajera Travel on 15.3.19 Rating: 5


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