Things To Do in Laos
Of all the things to do in Laos I think my favorite was actually the way I arrived in the country. I went into Laos via slow boat from Chiang Mai in Thailand. It’s a long journey but getting to travel down the river and see the countryside is a wonderful intro to Laos. I’d especially recommend it if you’re traveling solo. You’re all together in one group for the 3 day journey therefore you’ll kind of instantly form this traveling pack and most of you will be going on similar routes through the country so you may well end up spending all your time there with that same group.
Money at the boarder – if you take the slow boat into Laos as I did whoever you go with will sort out your visa the first night at your accommodation. When you get to the Chiang Khong/Huay Xai border and go through Laos immigration since you have a visa already you may be expecting not to have to pay anything but at the time when I entered Laos immigration officials were asking for a fee for something that we had to pay then and there even though we already had our visas. I can’t remember what they claimed it was for or how much it was although it wasn’t a lot, just a couple of dollars. Some people tried vehemently to reject paying it. I don’t know about you guys but even if you think you are being ripped off I personally don’t think a couple of dollars is worth fighting with immigration officials about. They don’t have to let you into their country, even if you do have the correct visa. I just paid it.
Take Dollars – For your Laos visa the fee can either be paid in Thai Baht or USD. It’s actually about $6 cheaper to pay in USD. It’s also worth keeping extra dollars and Thai Baht on you to pay for the taxi into Luang Prabang from where the slow boat stops if you enter that way too.
Appropriate Clothing – Consider the appropriateness of your clothing for the local area even when participating in “western activities” such a tubing in Vang Vieng
Don’t Do Drugs, mkay – (Apologies to those who don’t get the South Park reference), actually you’re all adults you can do whatever you want to do but BE CAREFUL about doing drugs in Laos, or maybe just don’t do them while there. In certain areas bars will even have a drugs menu making it feel like the whole drugs thing is pretty chilled out and cool there. It’s not. It’s a scam.
If you buy the drugs they’ll notify the police, someone will then follow you to where you do them, even if it’s in your hotel, and the police will say either you have to pay a fine or will be arrested. Yes you can buy your way out of the situation, it’s very unlikely you’ll be going to prison, but do you really want to pay $300 for a joint?!
Busses – The busses between locations in Laos are good and easy to book. These aren’t local busses, they’ve set up this network of routes to service the backpackers going through Laos pretty much. A lot of them will be small busses but they’re comfy enough for the journeys and you can get between most locations using them.
Motorbikes – A lot of people decide to travel through Laos by motorbike. The views are stunning and the roads are windy and go up and down through mountains. They get pretty remote at times though therefore it’s probably best to make sure you find someone to buddy up with so you have someone to help if you bike were to break down on one of the open stretches of road where there isn’t anything around.
Since the rides are long and the roads windy I also wouldn’t recommend them if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s not the best idea to ride a bike around without a license anyway as your travel insurance will not cover you if you have an accident and don’t have one, just like they wouldn’t if you had a car crash and didn’t have a license. Even if your insurance specifies they cover for motorbikes that only applies if you have a license. Regardless of that though for these roads in particular being an experienced driver would help.
Accommodation – In general accommodation is really cheap. For dorm beds you’re looking at about $5 a night and private basic rooms $10.
Food – Local street food will set you back just a few dollars. If eating at the restaurants in hostels or other average restaurants you’re looking at about $5 a meal.
Things to Do in Laos – 2 Week Itinerary
See the map below for the key things to do in Laos and the route to get around them. Click on any of the links for full details of that location, where to stay and how to get to the next destination on the list.
- Slow Boat to Laos –Baot Trip Down the Mekong River
- Luang Prabang– Kuang Si Falls (Waterfall), Bowling Alley
- Vang Vieng – Tubing, Waterfalls, Caves
Duration: A week and a half to two weeks
Click on each location for more information