If you are looking at exploring this gorgeous country but have less than 2 weeks to spare, you might find yourself asking how to spend 10 days in Laos. Here’s the perfect itinerary for that timescale including Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng and Vientiane.
Luang Prabang Days 1-2
Starting your trip in the most northern city on your itinerary will make it a lot easier for you to explore Laos. You’ll eventually travel south to Vang Vang, Vientiane and finally to Si Phan Don.
Your first absolute must in Laos is visiting Tat Kuang Si waterfall! The waterfall is about an hours drive from the city centre, so make sure you hire a bike. As we have spoken about before on the blog, hire a bike to make everything more accessible. But also be careful! The waterfall is considered one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the entire Southeast Asia region.
Many travellers love Luang Prabang due it’s peaceful and spiritual feel. The city has so many critical Buddhist temples and really brings a calm atmosphere to the town. There are over thirty-three different Wats in the city, and you could easily spend days just exploring all the temples. Personally, my favourite temple is Wat Xieng Thong – the city’s more awe-inspiring temple. There is an impressive rare reclining buddha inside which is an entirely different style to most of the Buddhas you’d see in SEA.
You should also climb Mount Phu Si for a 360-degrees view over Luang Prabang. The views are spectacular and make any sunrise or sunset worthwhile!
The food in Luang Prabang is known to be some of the best in Southeast Asia. For a taste of tradition, opt for a Luang Prabang salad, which packs a punch of garlic and is topped with sliced egg.
Vang Vieng Days 3-5
Vang Vieng is one of the greenest areas you’ll have the privilege of visiting in Laos. Hidden among green-carpeted karsts and pockets of the jungle, Vang Vieng is no longer the party town that gave it a bad reputation.
One of the most exciting activities is kayaking down the Nam Song at white-water rafting speeds. The kayaking will give you a full-on adventure and is genuinely really fun! I really enjoy kayaking so adding a little danger always makes for great excitement. If you prefer to get soaked another way, then try swapping your paddles for a harness! You can take a zipline through the tree-tops and finish with an extremely steep descent that makes you plunge into the river. If you can’t tell, this place brings back some fantastic memories for me!
One of the best things about Vang Vieng is it genuinely has something for everyone. If you enjoy caving, then Vang Vieng will offer you some great experiences. There are four caves all in a very close area. Tham Xang is one of the main caves and is home to ancient Buddha statues, a Buddha footprint and an elephant-shaped stalactite. Tham Hoi and Tham Loup are two more nearby caves which house Buddha statues. They also have names of over 100 people who hid in the caves during the Vietnam war. Finally, Tham Nam is a water cave which can only be explored by jumping in a rubber ring and tubing through the dark!
The Blue Lagoon is another must-see place in the area! Here you’ll find most locals gathering here and enjoying the fine cuisine the region has to offer. If you grow tired of swimming in some of the bluest waters you’ll see; then make your way to the Phu Kham Cave; where there is another golden reclining Buddha hidden inside.
Vientiane Days 6-8
After having some of the best times of your life, you can travel about four hours south to Vientiane. The quaint capital has temples and statues scattered all around it. Formerly a French colony, Vientiane is known as the Southeast Asian Paris. You can visit Laos’ own Arc de Triomphe, built with concrete given to them by the United States for a new airport runway.
Pha That Luang is another must-see tourist attraction. It is said to be the most important national monument in Laos, this gold-leafed temple is believed to have a piece of Buddha’s breastbone encased in the stupa.
For a great insight into the history of the Vietnam War, then you need to go visit the COPE centre. Although Laos was not officially in the Vietnamese War, more bombs were dropped on Laos per capita than any other country. Surprisingly, many bombs failed to detonate and therefore still injure thousands of people today, hence why it is so important to visit and support the COPE centre. This organisation educates visitors on the problem and provides victims with prosthetic limbs and rehabilitation.
Good food is easy to come by in Laos and especially in the capital. Due to its french past, it is heavily influenced by French culture and food. For lunch, go to one of the many baguette cafés scattering the streets. For dinner, choose between a plethora of cuisines from high-end French and Italian restaurants to more authentic Laotian eateries and even incredible Indian food. The capital is more about education and enjoying the great food rather than enjoying the adventure of all places.
Si Phan Don Days 9-10
After enjoying yourself in the capital and probably still being full of all the excellent food; it’s time to head south to Si Phan Don. The place is an archipelago of islands which is home to one of the most amazing waterfalls in the area. Khone Phapheng Fall is nicknamed the Niagara of Asia, and when you go you’ll see why! The cascading water crashing and smashing into the vast mountainous rocks makes for an excellent experience.
There are also many activities you can book on the island, including Irrawaddy dolphin spotting, kayaking, and tubing. The area is most adventurous than the capital and offers you a lot more to do in the form of activities. During your last night in Laos, you can sit on the shores of the islands for dinner to catch an incredible sunset over the Mekong River.
It would be nice if you could spend more time in the area than just two days, but as we only have 10 days in Laos you will have to pack everything in!
You might also like to read about 14 days in Laos, Backpacking Route Southeast Asia