We didn’t know much about Laos, but we had the impression that it would be an amazing country. So it was. Of the 29 days of staying in this small and often forgotten country in Southeast Asia, we have many good memories.
Here we bring our Laos backpacker travel guide. A complete guide to our journey through Laos. Visa, currency, when to go, route, how much it costs, what is the best and the worst, reference prices, transport and more!
To enter Laos both by land border and through an airport it is necessary that you process the visa on arrival. The price is $ 35 and you will need two photos. The stay time is 30 days.
The official currency of Laos is the Kip (LAK). You can calculate the updated exchange rate in the following table.
In Laos there are two different stations: rains (from May to October) and the dry (from November to April). It cannot be said that it is best to visit it in this last period. Being a very long country there are differences between the north and the south. For example, in the dry season in the north it can get quite cold, however between the months of March to May in the south it is almost unbearable heat.
In Laos there is a risk of dengue and malaria, but in the latter case there is no need to worry too much as it is mainly concentrated in rural areas. The most touristy and urban areas are free of Malaria.
The recommended vaccinations They are: Hepatitis A and B, typhoid fever and tetanus (you probably already have it).
(€ 1 = 10,479 kips). Laos is a cheap country, especially when it comes to accommodation: it’s easy to find a double room for 3-4 euros! Although eating and especially transportation is not as cheap as for example in neighboring Thailand.
In total, in the 29 days of travel through Laos we have spent each € 354.52, with a daily average of € 12.23 broken down as follows:
- accommodation: the total sum of the 29 nights spent in Laos, per person, is € 74.91 with a € 2.58 daily average (the cheapest night cost us € 1 each and the most expensive € 4!) The rooms we stayed in usually had a fan and a private bathroom, in some cases also wifi. Prices are higher in big cities, where going below 60,000 kips is very difficult.
- Food: in total we spend € 127,015 each per day is € 4.38 for lunch, dinner and sometimes breakfast. We have not found many street places to eat, and if we did find them they were not much cheaper than restaurants … the exception perhaps is Luang Prabang where at the night market you can eat a dish “all you can eat” for € 1.
- Transport: here the “rule” of € 1 per hour of travel is not valid, transport is more expensive and due to the very slow roads… in total we spend € 111.56 each, with a daily average of € 3.85 . In many cases (especially in the north) it is more profitable to take a minivan than local buses, which are just as expensive and slower.
- Tickets / activities: here we include kayak rental, a visit to Kong Lor cave, museums, temples … In total, the cost was € 24.05, daily average of € 0.84.
- Various: various purchases, such as toothpaste, t-shirts, scissors etc … in total € 16.51, daily average of € 0.57.
Some reference prices
- Double room: 30,000-60,000 kips
- Loaf of bread: 2,000 kips
- Sandwich: 10,000-15,000 kips
- Plate of rice-noodles: 15,000 kips
- Western food: 20,000-50,000 kips
- Large beer: 10,000 kips
- Water: 2,000-5,000 kips
- Drinks: 5,000 kips
- Gasoline: 10,000 kips / liter
- Bike rental: 10,000 kips / day
- Motorcycle rental: 50,000-60,000 kips / day
- T-shirt: 20,000-40,000 kips
The plugs that can be found in Laos are of three types: the A with two flat pins; type B with three flat pins, or type C, the European with two round pins, like the ones in the picture. You can buy a universal adapter or get a specific one as soon as you arrive at your destination.
Our free trip to Laos lasted 29 days. We entered through the land border of Huay Xai from Thailand and traveled from north to south, making stops at:
- Luang Namtha
- Muang Ngoy Neua
- Luang prabang
- Vang Vieng
- Kong Lor Cave
- Pakse – Bolaven Plateau
- Don Det – 4,000 islands
These are the top 10 things to see and do in Laos on a first trip.
Transportation in Laos is one of the weak points of this country. The only way to move is in local bus or tourist minivan. The former are usually real tartan quite uncomfortable and very slow, the latter are faster but riding them is a bit crazy due to the very bad road conditions. Calculate an average of about 35 km per hour. The price is higher than in neighboring countries (€ 1.5-2 € per hour of journey).
Another one of the negative points of Laos. The culinary culture in this country is not very interesting and the diet that we took on our trip through Laos was based on the typical rice dishes and fried noodles. Of course, you can be almost sure that everything you eat has not been processed or genetically modified.
If food is something that does not stand out in Laos, their beer is delicious! Lao Beer, note the name, one of the best beers we tried!
This is one of our favorite sections, here we tell you anecdotes of the trip, personal sensations of the place, things that we have loved but also that we have not liked at all … in short summary of our passage through Laos.
- Muang Ngoi Neua: a paradise where you can spend your days lying in the hammock, reading, listening to music and resting accompanied by a beautiful natural setting.
- The boat trip to Luang Prabang, with fabulous landscapes and reaching the most famous city in Laos at sunset was wonderful.
- Being able to see the most rural Laos, passing through isolated villages built on the cliffs of the northern mountains.
- The Hmong New Year of Phonsavan, it seemed for a second to be at the April fair, although instead of Sevillians there were Hmong dancing hehe.
- The Wiener-shnitzel of Vang vieng mmm, and of course the kayak excursion through the green waters of its river.
- Take a few quiet days in Vientiane, walking along its banks and watching hundreds of Laotians doing aerobics, cycling, playing basketball, walking their dogs…. And all accompanied by beautiful sunsets.
- The Kuang Si waterfall, near Luang Prabang, with its cool and inviting waters!
- Kong Lor’s cave deserved to divert our route to this corner of Laos!
- The Boulaven Plateau motorcycle tour, freeeeeeedom!
- Eat gnocchi with ragout in the restaurant “Frice e Luanje”, as I would like to eat them now !!
- Crossing the Mekong in a makeshift wooden boat, which seemed to make the end of the Titanic any minute.
- Don Det’s hammocks on the banks of the Mekong, and the meat barbecues at our favorite bar.
- The cutest dog in Luang Namtha, who when you stroked his neck would start to beat!
- Transportation, apart from being expensive, sometimes gives you the feeling of not going safe, be it because of the thousands of potholes in the road or because of the crazy driver on duty.
- The illegal fees that make you pay at the borders, both to enter (because it was Sunday) and to leave (because there the local rule was this, literal words of a guide).
- In general, the atmosphere of Vang Vieng, nothing to say, tastes are tastes, but we found it a bit sad that MANY travelers came to Laos just by Tubing without trying to know anything else about this country.
- Phonsavan prices through the roof for being “Hmong’s new year.”
- That on the last day they tried to scam us at Don det’s hotel, they wanted to charge us two more nights saying that we had checked in 2 days before the actual date, luckily we had a ticket with the arrival date of a purchase made in Pakse … but boy we had a hard time and it was to say goodbye to Laos with a bitter taste …
These are the posts we have written:
So far our travel guide to Laos for backpackers, with all the information you need to organize your free trip to this Southeast Asian country.
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