Laos is a popular tourist destination, but it is still relatively unspoiled. This is a great opportunity to experience the real Laos and its people. In this blog post, I will take you through a complete Laos itinerary for 3 weeks backpacking. This itinerary covers some of the most popular tourist destinations in Laos, as well as some lesser-known gems.
Laos is a beautiful country with a rich culture and history. It is known for its stunning scenery, including mountains, waterfalls, and rivers. It is also home to a variety of temples, monasteries, and other historical sites.
But lets be honest, it is one of the more uncomfortable countries to travel through as a backpacker. The sleeper buses and accommodation are rougher than those of Vietnam and Thailand but it is all part of the adventure…
**The length of time it takes to get from one place to another is estimated in this post. I have been on many buses in Laos that said it would take ‘x’ length of time and may have taken 1 or 2 hours more. So keep this in mind.
- Luang Prabang – 3 Nights
- Nong Khiaw – 2 Nights
- Muang Ngoy – 2 Nights
- Luang Prabang – 1 Nights
- Vang Vieng – 4 Nights
- Meung Feung – 2 Nights
- Vientiane – 2 Nights
- Thakhek – 5 Nights
- Pakse & Don Det
See also my previous itineraries I have written for Laos:
- How to get the bus from Pakse to Siem Reap
- 4 Day Thakhek Loop Itinerary
- 3 days Vang Vieng Itinerary
- Itinerary for 1 day in Vientiane
- 2 days in Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang: 3 Nights
First you will start off in Luang Prabang. This is a good starting point as it has an international airport. Plus if you are coming from Northern Thailand, you can get the slow boat or over night bus to Luang Prabang from Huay Xai.
There is plenty to see in Luang Prabang and I even wrote a special Luang Prabang itinerary which includes all the detail of what to see and do, where to eat and stay and details about getting there. The itinerary is for a full 2 days to allow for travel time to Luang Prabang the first day.
Nong Khiaw: 2 Nights
Nong Khiaw is a beautiful mountainous town and is a great place for hiking. I would recommend at least walking up to Nong Khiaw viewpoint for sunrise. It is 30,000 kip and the views are insane.
Sleeping Lady Viewpoint is another great viewpoint. It is quiet steep and can be difficult in parts – it just takes 20 minutes and is 20,000 kip.
Even though we didn’t go, Phatok caves is another popular attraction in Nong Khiaw.
How to get from Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw?
You can get a mini bus from Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw which takes about 3 hours and book on 12goasia.
Where to eat in Nong Khiaw?
Stop at ‘Home Coffee’ on the way down from Nong Khiaw Viewpoint for some breakfast – they have great coffee here.
Where to stay in Nong Khiaw?
We stayed in Meexok guesthouse (about €12 per night) and booked on booking.com – the accommodation was really nice so would recommend. But if you are looking for something cheaper, then book when you arrive. There are many guest houses along the river that you can check out.
Muang Ngoy: 2 Nights
Muang Ngoy is a smaller town, north of Nong Khiaw. There are some viewpoints to check out and you can walk to some cultural villages nearby too. But, many people like it to put their feet up beside the river.
How to get from Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoy?
Take the boat from Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoy which takes about 1 hour. We got the morning boat which leaves at 10:30. We bought tickets from the office where the boat leaves in Muang Ngoy.
Where to eat in Muang Ngoy?
There were a few restaurants closed when we were there. So there is not a lot of choice for food in the town. Anywhere we did try was nothing special so I won’t recommend but just walk around and check google maps for good reviews.
Where to stay in Muang Ngoy?
We stayed in Saylom guesthouse – it is located on the right just as you get off the boat. There was no air con (just a fan) but it was a nice room, overlooking the river. It was only €4 per night, ideal if you are on a tight budget.
Accommodation on booking.com is minimal, so either book in advance if you want something nice or wait until you arrive and find something then.
Luang Prabang: 1 Night
Because it is a bit of a trek to get from Muang Ngoy to Luang Prabang (getting the 1 hour boat and the 3 hour bus), it is a good idea to stay in Luang Prabang for a night and get a train the next morning to Vang Vieng.
Vang Vieng: 4 Nights
Vang Vieng is a great place for the adventurers – I have created a separate 3 day Vang Vieng itinerary with all the details of what to do, where to eat, stay and more.
How to get from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng?
You can take the bus from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng. This is the fastest way of getting there – it only takes 1 hour. You can buy a ticket on LCR ticket app or at the train station.
You can also take a mini van which takes between 5 and 6 hours and book on 12goasia.
Meung Feung: 2 Nights
Meung Feung is a whole adventure in itself. If you want to go off the beaten track and have a unique stay on floating bungalows surrounded by locals, then you should pay a visit. Barely anyone will be able to speak English but its good fun 🙂
Be sure to have cash on you because there are no ATMs near the accommodation.
How to get from Vang Vieng to Meung Feung?
You can get a bus from Vang Vieng to Meung Feung that goes once per day. Just ask at the bus station to confirm the time. Or ask at your accommodation, they might ring the bus station for you and find out.
Where to eat in Meung Feung?
You will also need to bring food with you unless you rent a bike nearby because there are no restaurants close by (we found out the hard way). There is a boat that goes up and down the river with snacks and that is it.
Where to stay in Meung Feung?
It was hard to find accommodation but we eventually found Meung Feung Riverside and the WhatsApp number is +8562052934979. The accommodation was really nice – they are floating cabins on the river. It was roughly 25USD per night.
Vientiane: 2 Nights
Vientiane is the capital of Laos and is somewhere that is nice to see but you do not need too long here. Here is an itinerary for 1 day in Vientiane.
How to get from Meung Feung to Vientiane?
When it was time to leave Meung Feung, we just walked towards the way out of the accommodation area and seen a van – we asked could they take us to Vientiane and he did – so that is how we got back.
I don’t actually know if there is a regular bus and it is very hard to find information online, so we just winged it!
Thakhek: 5 Nights
You should spend 4 days doing the Thakhek loop. You will stay in Thakhek on the first and last night and spend the other 3 nights staying at different parts of the loop. This loop was great and had beautiful scenery. Have a read of my 4 day Thakhek loop itinerary for the details.
How to get from Vientiane to Thakhek?
You can get a bus from Vientiane to Thakhek that takes 8 hours and it can be booked on 12goasia or at your accommodation.
Pakse or Don Det (2 each)
If you don’t fancy riding the Thakhek loop or going off the beaten path to Meung Feung, then use those days to visit Pakse and the 4000 islands.
In Pakse, pay a visit the Champasak Temple Complex. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located about 40 kilometres from Pakse. It is home to a number of ancient temples, including the Vat Phou temple, which is one of the most important Hindu temples in Laos.
Rent a scooter and explore the variety of waterfalls, coffee plantations, and ethnic villages. It is a great place to go hiking, trekking, and birdwatching.
Where to eat in Pakse?
Here are some nice restaurants to try in Pakse – Trattoria Italiana, Sese Restaurant & Cafe la Vida.
Where to stay in Pakse?
We stayed at hostel you empire and it was basic but nice.
Or if you prefer some time to relax, head to Don Det and relax on the beach. We didn’t make it to Don Det on our trip but it is a popular stop on the Laos backpacking route.
Laos is a beautiful and diverse country with a lot to offer visitors. With its stunning scenery, rich culture, and friendly people, it’s no wonder that Laos is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination.
This 3-week itinerary has covered some of the most popular tourist destinations in Laos, as well as some lesser-known gems.
I hope you enjoyed this 3 week Laos itinerary. If you have any questions, please comment below. Plus, make sure to subscribe to not miss out on my next posts.
Thanks for reading,
- Don't forget to get travel insurance before you set out on your adventure. Safety Wing is a great choice and so reasonable.
- If you are looking for accommodation, then Hostelworld or Booking.com are good options with plenty of accommodation choices.
- Looking to book tours, entry tickets and more, check out Get your Guide.
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