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  1. #1

    Default Travel route in Laos

    Hey everyone,

    I'm planning to spend my summer holiday in Laos, but I don't know which travel route in Laos is the most experiencing ones.
    Any suggestion?

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  3. #3

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    hello i hate long travelling.

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  4. #4

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    Planning your trip to Laos
    The classic Laos route
    Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, and Vientiane have long been the most popular places to visit in Laos. Tourism first developed here and so you often see these places recommended as part of a standard itinerary. (Youíll find more info on each of these places further down the page.)

    In a pinch, you could maybe do this route in a week. But itís better to have at least 10 to 14 days as you can take it easy and enjoy some fun side-excursions. It also gives you the possibility of taking the 2-day slow boat along the Mekong River to Luang Prabang.

    This classic route works well as an add-on to Thailand. You can enter from Northern Thailand and exit again at Nong Khai in Eastern Thailand.

    Itís not a bad route, but you shouldnít feel obligated to follow it! Vang Vieng is a nice place but itís also quite touristy, and I think the modern capital of Vientiane is not nearly as interesting as traditional rural Laos. To get the best of Laos, you might want to plan a different route all of your own.

    Other arguably better routes
    I think some of the quiet highlights of Laos are actually in the thinly populated and mountainous north. You can do more or less a loop that includes (or starts with) Luang Prabang. Iíve seen some travel guides warn of bad roads and long travel times in these parts, but the infrastructure is improving and traveling around here isnít that difficult. Donít be put off!

    Luang Namtha and Nong Khiaw, described later, are two great bases from which to explore the wonderful nature in northern Laos. Youíll love these places if youíre into things like kayaking, trekking, cycling, or caving.

    Another great option is to weave your way through the very south of Laos, where youíll find several friendly cities along the Mekong River and some fantastic riverine island-hopping at Si Phan Don.

    But one of the best ways to experience Laos is to explore the countryside by motorbike. I did an amazing day-trip from Luang Namtha to Muang Sing and looped around the Bolaven Plateau in several days. Other travelers speak very highly of the 3 to 5-day Thakek loop in central Laos.

    Iíve highlighted some of the key places of interest in Laos below.
    North or south Laos?
    Laos is a lanky country and traveling overland between the north and south can take some time. For example, the capital Vientiane to the southern city of Pakse takes about 15 hours by bus.

    Thatís why if you have only one or two weeks to spare, it might be nice to just focus on one region. I could tell you that all parts of Laos are equally beautiful but ó sshhh ó I think the north is especially worthwhile! Itís an ethnically diverse region with some amazing mountain scenery.
    Traveling from north to south, the mountains gradually make way for flat farmlands. In the southernmost regions youíll see more rice fields and farmers wearing conical hats, much like in Vietnam. The Mekong River swells in size, stretching far and wide when it gets to Pakse.

    The south has plenty of worthwhile attractions like the temples of Wat Phu, the riverine archipelago of Si Phan Don, and the Bolaven Plateau with its waterfalls and traditional villages. If you have the time, visiting both the north/center and the south of Laos is definitely not redundant ó as both have a very different vibe and different landscapes! But if youíre forced to make a choice, I think itís nice to go to the north first, as the mountain scenery and rainforests are quite spectacular there.
    Getting into Laos
    It was not so long ago that Laos had no road connections to its neighbors at all. Back in 2012, I still had to take a small boat across the Mekong and stamp my passport at a dinky immigration hut. Nowadays, there are bridges and proper border facilities.

    Arriving by bus
    Approaching from northern Thailand, you can start your Laos trip in Huay Xai in Bokeo Province. But truthfully this is a pretty unremarkable border town, so it can be skipped if you have no other travel plans in this region. Some international buses go directly from Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai to Luang Prabang.

    Another key access point with Thailand is at the border near the capital of Vientiane. And in the very south of Laos, many travelers arrive by bus from Siem Reap or Kratie in Cambodia.

    The boat from Thailand
    A popular trip with younger backpackers (and some older independent travelers) is the infamous slow boat, which travels along the Mekong River from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang. The boat takes two days and gives you a relaxed introduction to Laos. I have more info on how to decide between the slow boat or bus.

    Flights
    Laos isnít that well-connected by air, though there are some flights to Luang Prabang and Vientiane from regional hubs like Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, or Hanoi. Lao Airlines has infrequent domestic flights to other places around Laos. Instead of flying directly to Laos, you can also fly into Chiang Rai in Thailand or Hanoi in Vietnam and head into Laos overland from there.

    Entry visas
    Most nationalities get a 30-day visa on arrival at the border. The cost depends on your nationality but ranges from $20 to $40. Travelers from Nordic countries can travel visa-free for up to 15 days.

    Getting around in Laos
    Laos remains one of the least developed countries in the region. Itís true: the roads in Laos arenít always exactly amazing. Some remote roads require much awareness of potholes and stray goats to navigate. On other routes, itís not so much the roads but the truly ancient and slow buses that can complicate matters.

    But infrastructure is gradually improving. If youíre at least reasonably patient then traveling around Laos really isnít that arduous. Ignore guides that say traveling by river is still the way to go; most rivers have been dammed at this point and buses are the main mode of transportation now.

    China is investing heavily in Laos. A new single-track railway line will eventually link China to Thailand via Laos, though this railway isnít scheduled to come online until 2022. When finished, it will surely be a speedy and convenient way to travel across northern Laos.

    Accommodation in Laos
    Cheap accommodation is easy to come by in Laos. Most places have basic bungalows or rooms in guesthouses for under $10 a night. A bed in a hostel dorm easily costs just half that amount.

    Luang Prabang and Vientiane are the two places where accommodation can be more expensive and where there are both budget and luxury options. In these two places I suggest booking ahead to get the best accommodation.

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