Written by Ophelie
Published 24th August 21
Will take 4mn to read
If you want something different than the classic South East Asia’s touristic destinations, Laos is the one! It’s this kind of travels you don’t really expect much from, and which turn out to be the best experience ever. What places to visit in Laos? Where to start your Laos itinerary? Follow me to the Northern part of my favourite South East Asian country.
4 best places to visit in Laos, Northern part
- Vang Vieng
- Luang Prabang
Average budget for a solo travel in Laos
10 to 25$ a day, on a budget
1.000 Kip = 0.11$
4 must-see places to visit in Laos, Northern part
If you start your Laos itinerary in Vientiane, like many travellers in South East Asia, you don’t want to miss some beautiful gems around! Northern Laos is my favourite part of the country. And if you’re still not sure why to travel to Laos, I tell you here the good reasons! It’s full of majestic mountains, rivers and cliffs. To make you feel being in a surrealistic world. What are 4 unmissable places to visit in Northern Laos, starting from Vientiane? A list of 4 classic, and not to miss cool places!
Vientiane – The travellers’ city to start a Laos itinerary
Vientiane might not seem at first as THE place to visit in Laos. It’s the starting point for many travellers to their Laos itinerary. Indeed, it’s closely located next to Thailand’s border and it’s the arrival point for many flights. But it’s also a cool Laotian city to spend a few days in. You’ll appreciate its particular charm at sunset, on the river shores where people go for a sport session, a walk, a (or many) beer.
If you like local coffee shops, you’ll be happy in Vientiane. There are some very nice bars and cafes to stop by. You’ll find WIFI almost everywhere, which is handy if you are a digital nomad.
Buddhist temples and night markets are also cool places to visit in Vientiane. The most impressive one is Haw Phra Kew, turned into a museum. Like many temples in Laos, you can meditate in the gardens and make your very own experience of this visit. It’s the occasion to get familiar with the peaceful Laotian culture and its way of practicing religion. I found their temples real havens of peace.
What to do in Laos capital Vientiane
- Eat and drink street food along the river
- Take walks on the riverfront
- Meditate at the museum-temple Howphakaew
- Learn about Laos history at Lao national museum
- Admire a huge collection of hundreds of seated Buddha’s at the temple Wat Si Saket
The coolest backpackers’ place to visit: Vang Vieng
Until my trip to Kasi, I had no idea how beautiful Laos was. I didn’t get that much stunned by Vientiane. And I didn’t really know what to expect from our next stop on the Northern Laos itinerary. It’s only when I was looking out of the mini van’s window on the way to Kassie that I fell in love with the country. On the way to the reputed Luang Prabang, the city of Vang Vieng deserves a longer stop. But for another reason than the ‘posh’ Luang Prabang! Vang Vieng, nested in high mountains, is a cool town to party and meet other travellers. Nonetheless, it’s also a stunning place to visit in Laos for its landscapes, crystalline lagoons, and hidden caves. There is a lot to do there!
How to get to Vang Vieng
- From Vientiane or Kasi – Bus, mini-van. Companies: Thavisouk, Soutchai Travel. Ask at your hotel, as many companies offer pick-ups.
- Time 4hrs (from Vientiane)
- Price app. 86,000 Kip (9$)
- From Luang Prabang – Bus from Naluang station, vans and taxis. Check online on 12go.asia
- Time 5hrs
- Price 124,000 Kip (15$)
You can easily spend a few days in town, even a week if you have time left on your Laos itinerary. We were there at low season and we liked the peace of the town without crowds of backpackers. Though, Vang Vieng is made for partying and it’s probably very lively during high season.
On the first day, explore the city and its direct surroundings. You can practice photography at every corner! The place is really inspiring, with its bridges and mountains in the background. No need to go too far: cross the Toll bridge (fee) and explore the nearby countryside. Climb up to Phapaok mountain or just do photography on the ground of this scenic landscape. Tube rafting on the river Nam Song is also a very popular and unique thing to do in Vang Vieng.
Then, go for day trips around. My two favourite places to visit in Laotian Vang Vieng are the remote blue lagoon 2 and the hidden cave Pha Thao. You’ll hear from Blue lagoon 1. Located near blue lagoon 2, both of them have pristine waters where you can plunge in, surrounded by jungle.
Although the Blue lagoon 1 is very touristic, there is the stunning Phu Kam cave to visit. A giant Buddha statue lies down in the middle of the cave. We meditated there, with no one around us. It was a very impressive moment.
Take another day to go to caves around and to hike up to the area’s highest point Pha Ngern. The best one is the cave Pha Thao which isn’t made for tourists. No infrastructure, no tourist there (at least, two years ago!). You pay a modest fee at the entrance and enter the cave by yourself with only a front lamp! Such an amazing experience – except for the giant spider you might see.
And least but not last… enjoy the night life! Go to this cool bar on the river shores if you like electro beats. Or to Sakura bar in town, if you are into main stream music and clubbing atmosphere.
What to do in Vang Vieng
- Exploring the countryside
- Doing shopping on the morning market
- Going to hidden caves
- Taking a swim into Blue lagoons 1 and 2
- Doing tube rafting on the river (tours, i.g at Sengphet Restaurant & Bar)
- Hiking Pha Ngern
- Going out to electro music bars on the river or to Sakura club in the city
Where to sleep
- Magic Monkey Garden – Swimming pool, comfy rooms, 15 mn walk from the city center and stunning views on the mountains
- Riverside boutique resort – Beautiful hotel. Bit more expensive (100$ double private room). Swimming pool, terrace with view on the Mekong and mountains
- Rock backpacker hostel – Right in the city center, rooms are ok, clean and spacious coliving spaces
Kasi – One of the best remote places to visit in Laos
My travel mate had found once again a hidden gem: one of the best remote places to visit in Laos North, Kasi!
The journey to Kasi is kind of challenging! Roads in Laos have a (deserved) bad reputation. Busses are also pretty slow and often without air conditioning. But it’s a small price to pay to admire the magnificent mountains and valleys you’ll go through.
Travel Tip – On your Laos itinerary, Kasi is the best place to visit for immersing yourself 100% in nature. Take a local accommodation on the river, away from town. But then, make sure you arrange a taxi, motorbike or tuk-tuk to bring you from the bus station to your accommodation.
As you can now imagine, Kasi isn’t a place to party nor to do shopping! You’ll be in the middle of Laotian mountains, surrounded by locals, the river and rice fields. It’s one of the perfect places to visit in Laos if you want to relax, do nature photography and get to know the authentic side of this country. Rent a bike or a motorbike. Ride through the countryside and take photos in the rice fields along the river. Locals are friendly and will come to you. It’ll be a very different experience compared to Vientiane and I bet you’ll like it. Allow one to two days to explore the area.
How to get to Muang Kasi
- From Vang Vieng
- Bus from Northern station and mini-vans. The best is to ask at your hotel. Or look upon the bus company Vientiane Capital Bus enterprise.
Price approx. 50,000 Kip (5$)
- Taxi. Time 1hr. Price approx. 52$
Cute Luang Prabang – Ultimate stop on your Laos itinerary
The ultimate places to visit in Laos Northern part are in the cute Luang Prabang. It’s a well-known travel destination when it comes to Laos. And it’s well deserved. After Kasi and Vang Vieng, you’ll feel again in another world. Luang Prabang is a neat, sweet city. It’s located on the Mekong, so that you’ll find a lot of spots to relax, eat and drink in front of this huge and bright river, everywhere in town.
So many nice coffee shops, restaurants and bakeries for those who like eating. But also colourful and golden Buddhist temples, like Royal Palace. Luang Prabang is above all known for its impressive waterfalls. The touristiest one is Kuang Si waterfall, about 30km south from the city.
Even if I’m not a fan of touristic places, I loved this one. The waterfall with its unique water terraces is indeed a must on your Laos itinerary. You’ll even stumble upon an abandoned sea park in the middle of the jungle, if you leave the main path. You can also see bears in their natural environment at the rescue centre. Just try to avoid peak season as it can get crowded, I guess.
And another very cool thing not to miss: climb up to Phousi Hill’s temple – a magic view on the valley, the Mekong, and the chase for a good photo spot among Chinese tourists!
How to get there
From Vang Vieng – Bus. Direct line, usually operating every day.
- Time 5hrs
- Price app. 190,000 Kip (20$)
- From Vientiane
What to do in Luang Prabang
- Market with beautiful local hand-made craft
- Street food market
- Royal Palace and Haw Pha Bang temple
- Phousi Hill – a temple perched on the mount Phousi, with a stunning overview of the city and the valley
- Kuang Si waterfall
Curiosity makes the awesome traveler you are.
Check out other travel and photo blog posts!
Check out other travel and photo blog posts!