Northern Laos Itinerary (13 days)


This itinerary will cover Northern Laos over 13 days, and is the third part of my Thailand - Laos backpacking trip. To see a previous itinerary, check out my 5 day itinerary for the Mae Hong Son motorcycle loop and 6 day itinerary for Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, Thailand or fast forward to my next itinerary, 9 day itinerary for Ayutthaya, Bangkok and Hua Hin, Thailand

Trip Summary

  • Trip length and when did I go? 13 days in June 2015
  • Places visited: Huay Xai, Luang Namtha, Luang Prabang, Nong Khiaw, Muang Ngoi Neua, Vang Vieng, Vientiane
  • How much did it cost me? MYR 875

At A Glance

  • Day 1 - Huay Xai. Arrival in Huay Xai from Chiang Kong, Thailand. Check-in to Phonethip Guesthouse, then walked around Huay Xai until sunset. Overnight in Huay Xai.
  • Day 2 - Huay Xai to Luang Namtha. Check-out from the guesthouse and took a bus to Luang Namtha. Upon arrival, check-in to Adounsiri Guesthouse, then walked around Luang Namtha and spent the evening in its night market. Overnight in Luang Namtha.
  • Day 3 - Luang Namtha to Luang Prabang. Check-out from the guesthouse and took a bus to Luang Prabang. Upon arrival, check-in to Kounsavan Guesthouse. Spent the evening walking around the night market. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
  • Day 4 Luang Prabang. Half day trip to Kuang Si falls by shared minivan. Went for an evening walk around the Mekong riverside upon returning until sunset and spent the remainder of the evening walking in the night market. Overnight in Luang Prabang
  • Day 5 Luang Prabang. Woke up early to watch the alms-giving ceremony, then went for a walking tour around Luang Prabang visiting its important temples such as Wat Mai, Haw Pha Bang and Wat Xieng Thong. Visited the bamboo bridge on the return trip. Went up to Mount Phousi in the evening for sunset. Overnight in Luang Prabang
  • Day 6 - Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw. Check-out from the guesthouse and took a shared minivan to Nong Khiaw. Check-in upon arriving to Sythane Guesthouse, then went for a walk around the scenic Nong Khiaw. Overnight in Nong Khiaw
  • Day 7 - Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoi Neua. Check-out from the guesthouse and took a boat to Muang Ngoi Neua. Upon arrival, check-in to Aloune Guesthouse, then went for an afternoon walk around Muang Ngoi Neua, and onwards to Phanoi cave for sunset. Overnight in Muang Ngoi Neua. 
  • Day 8 - Muang Ngoi Neua. Half day trip to Muang Ngoi countryside, visiting Tham Kang cave and the surrounding rice fields. Check-out from the Aloune guesthouse upon returning to Muang Ngoi Neua, and check-in to another guesthouse, Rainbow House. Overnight in Muang Ngoi Neua. 
  • Day 9 - Muang Ngoi Neua to Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang. Check-out from the guesthouse, and took a boat back to Nong Khiaw, then a minivan back to Luang Prabang. Upon arrival in Luang Prabang, I checked-in to LPQ Backpackers. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
  • Day 10 - Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng. Check-out from hostel, and took a minivan to Vang Vieng. Upon arrivng there, I checked-in to Malany Villa 2 guesthouse. Rented a bicycle and went across the Nam Song river to visit the surrounding countryside until sunset. Overnight in Vang Vieng.
  • Day 11 - Vang Vieng. Went river tubing for half a day. Overnight in Vang Vieng.
  • Day 12 - Vang Vieng to Vientiane. Check-out from the guesthouse, and took a minivan to Vientiane. Upon arrival, I checked-in to Lucky Backpackers Hostel. Rented a bicycle and visited the important points of interest in Vientiane, such as Patuxai gate, Pha That Luang and Chao Anouvong park. Went to Hat Don Chan for sunset, and spent the remainder of my evening at the night market. Overnight in Vientiane
  • Day 13 - Vientiane. Check-out from the hostel. Did a quick sightseeing tour of That Dam and Wat Sisaket before spending my last few hours in Talat Sao mall, then took a bus from Khua Din bus station to the friendship bridge, and onward to Nong Khai, Thailand

Itinerary Map (click to view POIs and routes)


Travel Montage





Arrival in Laos from Thailand
  • 12.25 pm - Arrival at Laos immigration checkpoint from Chiang Kong, Thailand.
  • Immigration clearance. Went to the currency exchange to change some money into Laotian kips

  Over on the other side, after crossing the Friendship Bridge from Thailand
Over on the other side, after crossing the Friendship Bridge from Thailand
Welcome to Laos
Welcome to Laos, a sign of promise that my unplanned Laos trip is gonna be an exciting one

Getting to Huay Xai
  • 2.00 pm - Ride tuk tuk to Huay Xai, which is about 10km from the immigration checkpoint - 15,000 kip (bargained down from 25,000 kip)
  • Note: Be prepared to deal with the tuk tuk mafia here, it definitely wasn't easy to haggle down the price. Not only were they hard to bargain with, they made sure that there's only one tuk tuk you could take to town at any given time, and the other tuk tuk drivers just wouldn't take you
  • 2.30 pm - Arrive in Huay Xai (dropped off at the town centre)
  • Check-in to Phonetip Guesthouse - 60,000 kip per night. Staying for only a night, shared the room cost with another backpacker, so I only paid 30,000 kip.
  • Inquired the guesthouse on the pricing of the 2 days slowboat to Luang Prabang, and was quoted 222,000 kips for the trip. Decided to do the bus trip instead, and break up the journey with a stopover at Luang Namtha for a night to keep things interesting. Attempted this route by bus instead of the usual, more popular slow boat because it's the path less taken. Glad I did it this way, the scenery along the way is amazing!

 the tuk tuk mafia in Huay Xai
First roadbump in my travels around Laos, the tuk tuk mafia in Huay Xai. Be very firm when dealing with them, they're shady and incredibly persistent
Huay Xai
After about an hour's standoff with the tuk tuk mafia, finally they took us to Huay Xai for our agreed price. Not something I want to repeat, but at least we're here
Phonethip guesthouse
Since the tuk tuk dropped me off near Phonethip guesthouse, it's logical that this would be the first place I would ask when looking for a place to stay. Turned out this was one of the cheapest places in town
Room in Phonethip guesthouse
The guesthouse was almost full by the time I was done with my search, and when I came back here, there was only one room left. So I had to share this room with another backpacker. Not very pleasant but well, whatever

Around Huay Xai
  • 4.00 pm - Photo walk around Huay Xai. There wasn't really anything to see or do in town. Went to an ATM nearby to withdraw more kips for use later in my trip
  • Had coffee in Dream Bakery - Ice latte (12,000 kip) & blueberry pie (10,000 kip). Watched the sunset from the riverside before heading back to the guesthouse
  • Dinner at a nearby restaurant (not sure what the name was, it was written in Lao) - Stir fried pork with egg & rice (15,000 kip) & soft drink (5,000 kip)
  • 9.30 pm - Return to guesthouse to prepare for the next day

Wat Chomkao Manilat in Huay Xai
An afternoon walk around Huay Xai. The steps seen here lead up to Wat Chomkao Manilat, a good place to watch sunsets, but I had a better idea
Aerobics in Huay Xai, Laos
Watching the locals doing aerobics, seems to be a very popular thing here
Another part of Huay Xai,
Another part of Huay Xai, further down south
A great start to my Laos adventure
Watching the sun go down with coffee in hand. A great start to my Laos adventure



Huay Xai to Luang Namtha by bus
  • 7.00 am - Wake up, pack up and check-out from the guesthouse.
  • Breakfast at a roadside stall opposite the guesthouse - Ham cheese baguette (10,000 kip)
  • 8.15 am - Ride a shared minivan (arranged by the guesthouse) to Huay Xai new bus station - 10,000 kip
  • Note: Huay Xai has two bus stations, the locals simply call them 'old' and 'new' bus stations. You can take buses down south from either bus station, but was told the buses departing from the new bus station were newer and more comfortable. Whatever choice you make, the tuk tuk driver will bring you to the new bus station anyways
  • 8.30 am - Arrive at Huay Xai new bus station. Purchased one way ticket for the 10am bus bound for Luang Namtha - 60,000 kip
  • 10.20 am - Board bus bound for Luang Namtha

Huay Xai new bus station
Huay Xai new bus station
Waiting for my bus to Luang Namtha
Waiting for my bus to Luang Namtha

Arrival in Luang Namtha & Guesthouse check-in
  • 1.20 pm - Arrive in Luang Namtha (dropped off at Luang Namtha bus station, located in Phonexay, about 5km away from Luang Namtha's old town, and 10km away from new town)
  • 2.00 pm - Ride tuk tuk to Luang Namtha's new town - 20,000 kip
  • 2.15 pm - Arrive in Luang Namtha new town (dropped off near the Luang Namtha night market)
  • Check-in to Adounsiri Guesthouse - 50,000 kip per night (staying for 1 night). The owner wasn't very helpful and the wi-fi wasn't working, much to my dismay.

Luang Namtha bus station
Luang Namtha bus station. Most frustrating thing about Laos is how very far away the bus stations are from their respective towns
Adounsiri Guesthouse
Adounsiri Guesthouse, a bit hard to find as it's located away from the main road in the back streets
Lovely porch area at Adounsiri Guesthouse
Lovely porch area at Adounsiri Guesthouse. An affordable and okay stay but not the best around these parts

Around Luang Namtha
  • 4.00 pm - 6.00 pm - Photo walk around Luang Namtha's new town. To my disappointment, unless you were planning to go for the organized treks, there's very little to see or do in Luang Namtha. 
  • Late lunch at Lao Lao Restaurant (nearby the guesthouse I stayed) - Fried rice with beef curry (15,000 kip) & soft drink (5,000 kip)
  • Booked my bus ticket with a tour agency for the 9am bus departing for Luang Prabang the next day (plus transfer to Luang Namtha bus station) - 120,000 kip
  • 7.00 pm - Walked around in Luang Namtha night market. Dinner at Manikong Cafe located opposite the night market - Spring roll (25,000 kip) & Namkhong beer (8,000 kip for a large bottle)
  • 9.00 pm - Return to guesthouse

Main road at Luang Namtha's new town
Main road at Luang Namtha's new town. To be honest, there isn't plenty to see here if you're gonna spend most of your time in town, everything just seem so far away and not within walking distance
The Nam Tha river
The Nam Tha river was the only interesting scenery I came across while walking around the town area
Luang Namtha's night market
Luang Namtha's night market
Watching the sunset from the night market in Luang Namtha
Watching the sunset from the night market, interesting enough for an evening but not more than that
Walking around the night market in Luang Namtha
Walking around the night market. You will sometimes see flocks of tourists from mainland China around, which isn't surprising, considering how close Luang Namtha is to the Chinese border 
Manikong cafe in Luang Namtha
Spent the remainder of my evening at Manikong cafe, just opposite the road from the night market. Okay place to have dinner, but it had wifi, just what I desperately needed



Luang Namtha to Luang Prabang by bus
  • 6.30 am - Wake up, pack up and check-out from the guesthouse
  • Ride a shared tuk tuk who came to pick up at 7.30 am (arranged by the tour agency) to Luang Namtha bus station
  • 7.45 am - Arrive at Luang Namtha bus station. Board the 9am bus bound for Luang Prabang
  • 11.45 am - Stopover at Oudomxay enroute to Luang Prabang. Bought some snacks before continuing on - Bamboo sticky rice (only 2,000 kip, very cheap!)

Packed up and ready to go from Luang Namtha
Packed up and ready to go. Managed to have a chat with these guys the night before, aside from our common complaint that the wifi wasn't working (lol). They are embarking on their month long cycling trip around Laos, good luck to them!
Back in Luang Namtha bus station
Back in Luang Namtha bus station, waiting for my bus to Luang Prabang
The reason why bus trips from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang take an absurdly long time
The reason why bus trips from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang take an absurdly long time is because of traffic delays due to ongoing road construction, along a very treacherous road through the mountains 

Arrival in Luang Prabang & Hostel check-in
  • 6.00 pm - Arrive in Luang Prabang (dropped off at the northern bus station, located about 3km from the town centre. Very typical in Laos for the bus stations to be placed so far away from the town centres
  • 6.05 pm - Ride tuk tuk to Luang Prabang town centre - 20,000 kip. Obviously a ripoff, but nothing much you can do about it because the price is already fixed. The only good thing is that they will drop you off at your accommodation of choice
  • 6.20 pm - Check-in to Kounsavan Guesthouse - 48,000 kip per night. Staying for 3 nights (total cost - 144,000 kip). Very social place and incredibly popular with backpackers, so the rooms get taken up really fast. Be sure to book ahead to avoid disappointment. The rooms are clean enough, but does get stuffy during the day as the AC is turned off during this time. There was a swimming pool being built around the time I was there, that would've been a plus point had I come here when the pool was completed

Arriving at Luang Prabang's north bus station
Arriving at Luang Prabang's north bus station, located a few kilometres away from the town centre. Very typical of Laos to place their bus stations faraway so that you have to take their tuk tuks
Shared a tuk tuk with other travelers to get to my accommodation in Luang Prabang
Shared a tuk tuk with other travelers to get to my accommodation in Luang Prabang
Kounsavan Guesthouse
Kounsavan Guesthouse, my acommodation in Luang Prabang over the next few days
Cramped bed and room in Kounsavan Guesthouse
Settling down to my rather cramped bed and room in Kounsavan Guesthouse

 Luang Prabang Night Market
  • 7.20 pm - Walk from the hostel to the Luang Prabang night market, located along Sisavangvong road (under 5 minutes)
  • Had dinner at the night market - Vegetarian buffet (15,000 kip). Very well known among travelers, there's a wide selection of all-you-can-eat vegetarian food you can fill your bowl with. They charge extra for meat though.
  • 8.30 pm - Walked around the night market until closing time before eventually returning to the hostel. The night market closes early, around 10pm

Luang Prabang's night market
Luang Prabang's night market in full swing
One of Luang Prabang's must-trys, the vegetarian buffet
One of Luang Prabang's must-trys, the vegetarian buffet at the night market
The night market in Luang Prabang felt languid in general
The night market felt languid in general, a departure from the norm where markets are usually loud and chaotic. The traders weren't pushy and that gave me a very pleasant experience
Further down Sisavangvong road, just past the night market
Further down Sisavangvong road, just past the night market. Plenty of cafes and tour companies along this stretch, generally a good place to hang out in the evenings



Pre-day
  • 8.00 am - Wake up
  • Breakfast at the hostel - Omelette & hot tea (included in the room rate)
  • Did my laundry with the hostel - 15,000 kip

Day trip to Kuang Si Falls 
  • 10.00 am - Left for day trip to Kuang Si falls by shared minivan (cost sharing with a group I met at the hostel) - 30,000 kip per person. As a contrast, it's slightly cheaper to what the hostel was charging for the same day trip at the time, 35,000 kip 
  • 11.00 am - Arrive at Kuang Si falls entrance. Paid the entrance fee - 20,000 kip
  • Upon entering, take a right and the first area you will come to is the bear rescue centre. A number of bears can be seen here and is quite a treat for animal lovers
  • Further onwards are a number of small cascading waterfalls, before coming to the main waterfall. You can trek up to the top of the main waterfall to have a look. There are two paths you could take to the top. The path on the right side of the waterfall will take you through the dense jungle, is steeper and is therefore a more strenuous climb. Either way, the climb takes only 15-20 minutes. At the top, there's a viewpoint (be careful, it's slippery!), a few pools and a cave (not that interesting in my opinion)
  • 1.00 pm - Head back down to the lower falls to go for a swim. A popular favorite seems to be the large pool with the tree you can jump off from. There are restrooms and changing areas so changing into your swimwear shouldn't be too much of a problem.
  • 3.00 pm - Pack up and head back to the entrance to ride the minivan back to Luang Prabang

Entrance to Kuang Si falls
Entrance to Kuang Si falls
Bear rescue centre in Kuang Si Falls
Turning right after the gate, a few minutes on the path will bring you to the bear rescue centre. Be careful, try not to get too acquainted with the bears otherwise you're gonna be spending a long, long time here 
First set of cascading falls in Kuang Si Falls
Sighted the first set of cascading falls, several minutes down the path from the bear rescue centre
More cascading falls on the way to the main waterfall in Kuang Si Falls
More cascading falls on the way to the main waterfall. Some are designated no-swim zones, making good spots for photography, so snap away!
Bridge at the main waterfall area in Kuang Si Falls
Bridge at the main waterfall area. From here, you can choose which path you want to take to the top of the waterfall. Remember, the right path to the top is harder
Kuang Si Falls Main Waterfall
The main waterfall, one of the most photographed parts of the Kuang Si falls

Back in Luang Prabang
  • 4.00 pm - Back in Luang Prabang (dropped off at the hostel)
  • 5.00 pm - Decided to go for an evening stroll near the riverside. Walk from the hostel to Khem Kong road (under 10 minutes). There are plenty of riverside cafes along this road, so choose any one to enjoy some drinks while watching the sun go down
  • 7.00 pm - Walk to the night market. Dinner at the sandwich stalls near the market - Chicken tuna sandwich (15,000 kip)
  • 9.30 pm - Walked around in the night market to do a bit of shopping before returning to hostel

Mekong Riverside in Luang Prabang
Went for an evening stroll by the riverside, only a few minutes walk away from the hostel
Sunset at Mekong Riverside in Luang Prabang
Enjoying the beautiful sunset from a riverside cafe
Sunset at Mekong Riverside in Luang Prabang
Last bit of sunlight before the day's end. Mother nature does really know how to put on a show



Alms-giving ceremony
  • 5.00 am - Wake up
  • 5.30 am - Walk from the hostel to Sisavangvong Road (under 5 minutes) to watch the alms-giving ceremony, a popular event in Luang Prabang, involving hundreds of monks from various temples. It usually starts at around 6am every day
  • 6.30 am - Return to hostel to get some breakfast - Fried eggs & tea (included in the room rate)

Alms-giving ceremony in Luang Prabang
Woke up early in the morning to catch the alms-giving ceremony in Luang Prabang

Walking tour of Luang Prabang
  • 9.00 am - 12.00 pm - Walking tour of Luang Prabang. Visited the following points of interest along Sisavangvong road:
  • Wat Pa Huak
  • Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham
  • Haw Pha Bang
  • Wat Sensoukharam 
  • Wat Sop Sickharam
  • Wat Sirimoungkhoun Sayaram
  • Wat Souvannakhiri
  • Wat Xieng Thong
  • Did only external viewings for some of the temples I visited as there were entrance fees for Wat Mai (10,000 kip), Haw Pha Bang (30,000 kip) and Wat Xieng Thong (20,000 kip). The rest were free of charge.

Wat Pa Huak
First on the list. The tiny but quaint interior of Wat Pa Huak, located near the staircase going up to Mount Phousi
Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham
Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham, supposedly one of the largest in Luang Prabang. Didn't go in, just looked at it from outside because there was an entrance fee
Haw Pha Bang
Haw Pha Bang is very hard to miss, it's probably one of the first temples you will notice almost immediately while in Luang Prabang. Again, I didn't enter because I'm a cheapskate lol
Luang Prabang town
More of the Luang Prabang township further down Sisavangvong road
Wat Sensoukharam
Wat Sensoukharam. Chanced upon this place after walking almost a straight line down Sisavangvong road
Wat Sop Sickharam
Wat Sop Sickharam is another few minutes further down the road from Sensoukharam
Wat Sirimoungkhoun Sayaram
Next up, Wat Sirimoungkhoun Sayaram
Wat Souvannakhiri
Feeling templed out already? Wat Souvannakhiri is yet another temple, but with a difference. It also houses an exhibition with meditation as its central theme. Best of all, it's free to enter
Wat Xieng Thong
Last on my list, Wat Xieng Thong

Walking tour of Luang Prabang (continued)
  • Stopped for refreshments at Viewpoint Cafe (located at the interjunction between Sakkaline & Khem Kong road) - Mango shake (20,000 kip). Nice place to relax and enjoy views of the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers
  • 1.00 pm - Continue walking tour of Luang Prabang by doing a photo walk along Khem Khong road back to Luang Prabang town center (near the site of the night market). Visited parts of the Mekong 'beach'
  • 2.00 pm - Back in Luang Prabang town center. Continue walking tour by doing a photo walk along Kingkitsarath road
  • Crossed the bamboo bridge to get to the other side of the Nam Khan river. Admission fee - 5,000 kip. Supposedly this goes to funding the costs to rebuild the bridge that gets swept away during monsoon season each year
  • Stopped for another round of refreshments at Dyen Sabai restaurant - Watermelon shake (15,000 kip)
  • 3.30 pm - Back to hostel (under 15 minutes)

Viewpoint Cafe
Viewpoint Cafe, a cafe with a view situated at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers. Good stop for a few drinks before continuing on
The Mekong 'beach'
The Mekong 'beach'
Khem Khong road
Retracing my steps back to the town center along the Khem Khong road
The bamboo bridge over the Nam Khan river
The bamboo bridge. Not sure why we had to pay to use it but supposedly they have to rebuild this each year due to monsoon
Views of the Nam Khan river from Kingkitsarath road
Views of the Nam Khan river from Kingkitsarath road

Mount Phousi & back to hostel
  • 4.30 pm - Walk from the hostel to Mount Phousi (under 5 minutes). There are two entrances, I opted for the main entrance (located along Sisavangvong road). Paid admission fee halfway to the top - 20,000 kip
  • Climbed the stairs to the top of Mount Phousi (under 15 minutes). By the time I arrived, the place was already crowded. Do come early if you want the best seats to watch the sunset. Stayed at the top until sundown before heading back down again
  • 7.00 pm - Dinner at the night market - Vegetarian buffet (10,000 kip)
  • Booked with a tour agency a minivan transfer to Nong Khiaw departing at 8.30am the next day - 70,000 kip (one way). Comparatively, my hostel was quoting 75,000 kip for the same trip. If you want a cheaper alternative, there are public buses from Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw which costs around 40,000 kip. One downside to this however, is that you still have to find your way to get to the bus station and buy your bus ticket
  • Went to an ATM to withdraw more kips. Found that BCEL gave me the best rates for MYR
  • 9.00 pm - Walked around and did some shopping in the night market before heading back to the hostel

Staircase to the top of Mount Phousi
Staircase to the top of Mount Phousi
Views of Luang Prabang from the top of Mount Phousi
Views of Luang Prabang from the top of Mount Phousi
Mount Phousi
And over on the other side. Be sure to come early to reserve a spot as this place gets increasingly crowded the closer it gets to sunset
Mount Phousi
Most awaited time of the day



Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw by minivan
  • 7.00 am - Wake up, pack up and check-out from hostel
  • Breakfast at the hostel - Banana pancake & tea (included in the room rate)
  • 8.40 am - Pickup from hostel to the southern bus station, where we waited to get into the minivan departing for Nong Khiaw
  • 9.45 am - Ride minivan from Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw
  • 11.45 am - Short stopover at Pak Mong

Luang Prabang's southern bus station
Departing for Nong Khiaw from Luang Prabang's southern bus station


Arrival in Nong Khiaw
  • 12.45 am - Arrive in Nong Khiaw (dropped off at Nong Khiaw bus station). Walk from the bus station to Nong Khiaw town center (under 15 minutes)
  • Check-in to Sythane Guesthouse - 40,000 kip per night. Staying for 1 night. The room I got was surprisingly well-featured at its price point, very good value for the money in my opinion
  • Lunch at Chennai Restaurant next to the guesthouse - Chicken biryani (30,000 kip). Surprisingly good indian food around these parts!

Nong Khiaw bus station
Arriving at Nong Khiaw bus station. From here, it's about 15 minutes on foot to town. Or under a few minutes by tuk tuk, pay no more than 5,000 kip
Sythane Guesthouse in Nong Khiaw
Settling in to my accommodation in Sythane Guesthouse, that offered way more than I bargained for
Chennai Restaurant in Nong Khiaw
Chennai Restaurant, just next to the guesthouse I stayed at. Quite the surprise find I must say


In & Around Nong Khiaw
  • 4.00 pm - 6.00 pm - Photo walk arond Nong Khiaw. Spent most of my time on the bridge, admiring the impressive views of the Nam Ou river from both sides. 
  • There's also a viewpoint you could climb up to get uninterrupted views of the river and the surrounding country side. It takes about 90 minutes to climb, less if you're physically fit. There's an entrance fee of 20,000 kip. Wanted to go up the next morning but was hampered by rain, so I didn't go
  • 7.00 pm - Back to the guesthouse. Dinner at Chennai Restaurant again - Baingan bharta (12,000 kip)
  • There were a few nightlife options available (which again, is surprising given the remoteness of this place) but decided to hangout in the restaurant for a while before heading back to the guesthouse

Nong Khiaw town
A part of the Nong Khiaw town area, just past the bridge
Nong Khiaw viewpoint
Entrance to the Nong Khiaw viewpoint, located further down south of town. Planned to go early next morning but it rained so, meh
Nong Khiaw bridge
The bridge that connects both parts of Nong Khiaw town
Nong Khiaw river
Other side of Nong Khiaw. The jetty, which can be seen here, is where you can take a boat to Muang Ngoi Neua
Nong Khiaw river
Unlike Luang Namtha, it's not necessary to go very far to see scenery such as this in Nong Khiaw. It's everywhere you look
Nong Khiaw river
More impressive scenery seen from the bridge. This towering limestone cliff dominates the Nong Khiaw landscape



Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoi Neua by boat
  • 10.00 am - Wake up, pack up and check-out from the guesthouse
  • Walk from the guesthouse to the jetty (under 10 minutes). From this jetty, there are boats that run from Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoi Neua at 11am and 2pm daily. Each trip takes about an hour
  • 11.20 am - Ride a boat departing for Muang Ngoi Neua - 25,000 kip. The journey along the Nam Ou river can be described as both breathtaking and exhilarating at the same time. Despite some tense moments while braving the rapids (definitely not for the faint of heart!), the promise of impressive scenery along the river alone is worth the trip

Boat to Muang Ngoi Neua
Waiting for my boat to Muang Ngoi Neua on a misty morning in Nong Khiaw
Boat to Muang Ngoi Neua
The boat I got had no seats, so we had to sit on floorboards. It got rather cramped inside the boat as more and more got on, but fortunately the journey only took a little over an hour
Boat to Muang Ngoi Neua
Best part of the journey was definitely the impressive landscapes along the river. Just a tip, look towards the left side, that's where the best parts are
Boat to Muang Ngoi Neua
Braving the rapids on the way to Muang Ngoi Neua. The experience can be nerve-wracking for some


Arrival in Muang Ngoi Neua
  • 12.30 pm - Arrive in Muang Ngoi Neua. Given its remoteness and rurality, it's not surprising there are no roads to and around the village, and up until recently, there was no electricity either. Despite that, there are a surprising number of acommodations and eateries here, due to growing tourism in the area
  • Upon arriving, there will be some locals waiting at the jetty and asking if you want to stay at their guesthouses. Went with one and checked-in to Aloune guesthouse - 30,000 kip per night. Stayed for 1 night. Loved the river view and the hammocks, though the lack of wifi and hot showers could be a bit of a turnoff for some

Arrival in Muang Ngoi Neua
Approaching Muang Ngoi Neua from the river
Aloune Guesthouse in Muang Ngoi Neua
Settling in at Aloune Guesthouse. Kinda decent for the price. No wifi though, can be a bummer for some
Aloune Guesthouse in Muang Ngoi Neua
Loved the views of the river and swinging in the hammocks

In & Around Muang Ngoi Neua
  • Lunch at Ning Ning restaurant - Pork fried rice (17,000 kip) & Lao coffee (6,000 kip)
  • 2.00 pm - 3.00 pm - Photo walk around Muang Ngoi Neua. Walked from one end to another along the main strip of the village. Did a quick photo stop at Wad Okad Sayaram before heading to Phanoi cave

Main strip in Muang Ngoi Neua
The main strip in Muang Ngoi Neua
Wad Okad Sayaram temple in Muang Ngoi Neua
Wad Okad Sayaram temple, probably the only one in Muang Ngoi Neua, located at the other end of the main strip, closer to Phanoi cave
Ning Ning restaurant in Muang Ngoi Neua
Lunch at Ning Ning restaurant, one of the better eating options here

Phanoi Cave
  • 3.00 pm - Walk to the entrance of Phanoi cave, located to the north of the village (under 10 minutes). Paid the admission fee - 10,000 kip
  • The uphill trek to Phanoi cave wasn't too hard, it only took me about 20 minutes but the path can be quite slippery especially if it rained earlier. Did a quick photo stop at the cave, which was rather small and uninteresting. Remember to have a flashlight on you if you want to venture deeper into the cave, it was pitch dark!
  • 4.00 pm - Continuing on, it was another 20 minutes further up the path to the viewpoint. There are actually two viewpoints, one with views of the river up north, and one with views of Muang Ngoi Neua, both are equally spectacular. Waited around at the top until almost sunset before heading back down

Phanoi cave
This way to Phanoi cave
Phanoi cave
Past the gate and going up the uphill path through the jungle
Phanoi cave
Inside Phanoi cave
Phanoi viewpoint
First viewpoint I came across after reaching the top
Phanoi viewpoint
Second viewpoint, with good views of Muang Ngoi Neua. Disappointing weather though

Back in Muang Ngoi Neua
  • 6.00 pm - Return to the guesthouse for a quick shower and a bit of rest
  • Dinner at Riverside restaurant (located near my guesthouse) - Vegetable curry with rice (25,000 kip). One of the several nightlife options in town, and probably the most happening one
  • 9.00 pm - Walked around Muang Ngoi Neua for a bit before returning to my guesthouse for an early night

Riverside Restaurant in Muang Ngoi Neua
Dinner at Riverside restaurant, one of several nightlife options in town
Night time in Muang Ngoi Neua
Spent the remainder of my evening walking around Muang Ngoi Neua's main strip
Night time in Muang Ngoi Neua
Watching the village folk try their luck in the local lottery



Half-day trek to Muang Ngoi countryside
  • 7.00 am - Wake up
  • Breakfast at Vita Restaurant - Omelette (10,000 kip) & Lao coffee (7,000 kip)
  • 7.30 am - Walked from Muang Ngoi Neua to the surrounding countryside. Followed the path going out of the village, then a dirt road going in the southeast direction for about 30 minutes, until I reached Tham Kang cave
  • Quick photo stop at Tham Kang cave. Paid the 'tourist fee' before entering - 10,000 kip. A bit larger compared to Phanoi cave, and is only slightly more interesting
  • 8.30 am - 9.30 am - Crossed the rickety bamboo bridge to check out the surrounding rice fields nearby. The rice fields weren't as green at the time of my visit, as it was still planting season
  • 9.30 am - 1.00 pm - Back to the dirt road and continue on for another 30 minutes to another rice field, a lot larger than the first one, and with many limestone cliffs dotting the landscape. Spent most of my time photographing here before heading back to Muang Ngoi Neua

Muang Ngoi countryside
The long dirt road to the countryside
Muang Ngoi countryside
Passing tourists will need to pay a 'tourist fee' at this toll near Tham Kang cave
Waterlogged entrance of Tham Kang cave
Tham Kang cave in Muang Ngoi
Inside Tham Kang cave. Only slightly more interesting than Phanoi cave
Muang Ngoi countryside
The bamboo bridge near Tham Kang cave to cross over the river to the rice fields on the other side
Muang Ngoi countryside
Parts of the rice fields were barren as it was still planting season at the time. Villagers coming out to farm was still cool to see though
Muang Ngoi countryside
Beautiful Muang Ngoi countryside in full view

Back to Muang Ngoi Neua
  • 1.00 pm - Walk back to Muang Ngoi Neua (under 45 minutes)
  • 1.45 pm - Back in Muang Ngoi Neua. Pack up and check-out from the guesthouse. No problems at all with the guesthouse, it's just that I needed wifi to plan my trip ahead
  • Extended my stay at a different guesthouse nearby which had wifi, Rainbow House - +1 night for 40,000 kip per night
  • Lunch at Rainbow Restaurant - Sweet sour chicken (25,000 kip) & sticky rice (5,000 kip)
  • 5.00 pm - Went for an evening walk along the riverside until sundown
  • Dinner at Riverside Restaurant again. Splurged a bit this time since I had company  - Mozarella mushroom burger (45,000 kip) & Lao beer (10,000 kip)
  • 10.00 pm - Hung out at the restaurant before returning to the guesthouse

Rainbow House in Muang Ngoi Neua
Changed my accommodation to Rainbow House, which was just next door from Aloune. Slightly more expensive but offered way more facilities
Rainbow House in Muang Ngoi Neua
The room I got at Rainbow House
Rainbow Restaurant in Muang Ngoi Neua
Late lunch at Rainbow Restaurant. Trying out sticky rice in a basket, a common local fare
Muang Ngoi Neua riverside
Splendid views of the river from the restaurant
Muang Ngoi Neua riverside
This was the Laos I came to see. Stunning imagery of Muang Ngoi Neua helped by the changing weather left me with a very lasting impression



Back to Nong Khiaw
  • 8.30 am - Wake up, pack up and check-out from the guesthouse
  • Walk to the boat office (located near Ning Ning Restaurant) to buy my ticket for the 9.30am boat departing for Nong Khiaw - 25,000 kip
  • Note: From Muang Ngoi Neua, boats to Nong Khiaw only run once per day, in the mornings, times may vary. Only exception is during high season, where there are boats running in the afternoons
  • Breakfast at Ning Ning Restaurant while waiting for the boat - Banana pancake (15,000 kip) & tea (5,000 kip)
  • 9.15 am - Ride a boat back to Nong Khiaw

Boat back to Nong Khiaw
Taking the morning boat back to Nong Khiaw

Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang by minivan
  • 10.15 am - Arrive back in Nong Khiaw. Ride a shared tuk tuk from the jetty to Nong Khiaw bus station - 5,000 kip
  • At Nong Khiaw bus station, I purchased my ticket for the 12pm minivan departing for Luang Prabang South - 55,000 kip. There's another minivan that leaves earlier at 10.30am for Luang Prabang North, only costs 40,000 kips but it was already full by the time I got there
  • 12.00 pm - Ride minivan from Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang

Nong Khiaw bus station
Back in Nong Khiaw, and straight to the bus station to catch a ride back to Luang Prabang

Back in Luang Prabang
  • 3.10 pm - Arrive in Luang Prabang (dropped off at the southern bus station). Ride shared tuk tuk to Luang Prabang town center - 10,000 kip
  • Check-in to LPQ Backpackers hostel - 30,000 kip per night (staying for 1 night). This was the alternative I went for since Kounsavan guesthouse was fully booked for the night. It's not a very social hostel but still good for a night
  • 6.00 pm - Dinner at the night market - Vegetarian buffet (10,000 kip) & watermelon shake (10,000 kip)
  • Booked with a tour agency a minivan transfer to Vang Vieng departing at 9am the next day - 120,000 kip 
  • 10.00 pm - Walked around the night market for last minute shopping before returning to the hostel

LPQ Backpackers in Luang Prabang
Stayed in LPQ Backpackers for a night once I got back to Luang Prabang
LPQ Backpackers in Luang Prabang
The dorm I got in LPQ Backpackers



Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
  • 7.00 am - Wake up, pack up and check-out from the guesthouse
  • Breakfast at the hostel - Fried eggs with toast & coffee (included in the room rate)
  • 9.30 am - Pickup from the hostel by minivan before departing for Vang Vieng. The scenery along the way is consistently beautiful, passing by some of the most beautiful landscapes I've seen during my travels here. A particular highlight of the journey was the grasslands that goes on almost endlessly
  • 12.00 pm - Stopover enroute for lunch - Mixed rice (15,000 kip)

Arrival in Vang Vieng
  • 1.30 pm - Arrive in Vang Vieng (dropped off near the town center)
  • Check-in to Malany Villa 2 guesthouse - 60,000 kip per night. Staying for 2 nights (total cost - 120,000 kip). Great location (directly opposite the very popular Sakura Bar) and well-featured for the price, which was an absolute steal. Rooms were pretty clean and spacious as well, all in all not much to complain about

Vang Vieng
Arriving in Vang Vieng
Malany Villa 2 in Vang Vieng
The conveniently located Malany Villa 2 in Vang Vieng, directly opposite the famous Sakura Bar, and a good place to kickstart your adventures in Vang Vieng
Malany Villa 2 in Vang Vieng
My room in Malany Villa 2

In & Around Vang Vieng
  • 2.00 pm - Rented a bicycle from a shop opposite the guesthouse - 10,000 kip (for half day rental)
  • 2.30 pm - Cycled around Vang Vieng, then crossed the Nam Song bridge. There's a toll fee to use the bridge - 6,000 kip (for bicycles). For pedestrians, the toll is 4,000 kip, and 10,000 kip for motorcycles
  • 3.00 pm - 6.00 pm - Cycled around the Vang Vieng countryside, with scenic rice fields dotting the landscape. Didn't go all the way to Blue Lagoon, as I was more interested in exploring the countryside. Stayed around until sunset before returning to town
  • 6.30 pm - Returned to town by crossing back over the Nam Song river via the bamboo bridge
  • 7.30 pm - Back in Vang Vieng town, after I returned the bicycle to the shop, went and had dinner at Otherside Restaurant - American fried rice (25,000 kip) & Lao beer (8,000 kip)
  • 10.00 pm - Walked around Vang Vieng before returning to the guesthouse

Vang Vieng
Cycling around Vang Vieng 
Nam Song bridge in Vang Vieng
Nothing is free in Laos, even the bridges have tolls
Nam Song bridge in Vang Vieng
The Nam Song bridge
Nam Song bridge in Vang Vieng
The Nam Song river and the surrounding landscape as seen from the bridge
Vang Vieng countryside
Beautiful countryside on the other side of the Nam Song river
Vang Vieng countryside
Stayed until sunset to get this shot. If I had to choose one, just one photo to represent Laos, this would be my pick
Nam Song bridge in Vang Vieng
Across the bamboo bridge and I'm back in Vang Vieng town
Night in Vang Vieng
One of the few minimarts in Vang Vieng. Funny thing is they are more common here than the rest of Laos
Night in Vang Vieng
Dinner and an evening spent at the Otherside Restaurant



Pre-day
  • 8.30 am - Wake up
  • Breakfast at the nearby sandwich stalls (in front of the Roung Nakhon Palace hotel) - Hotdog bacon sandwich (20,000 kip) & coffee (5,000 kip). Plenty of stalls here and is incredibly popular with tourists.

Sandwich stall in Vang Vieng
One of the many sandwich stalls in Vang Vieng. Loving the variety and how big the portions of these sandwiches are, just can't stop eating them!

River Tubing
  • 10.00 am - Went to the tubing rental office and rented a tube (including tuk tuk transfer to the tubing starting point) - 55,000 kip (+60,000 kip deposit which will be returned to you after you return your tube)
  • Ride tuk tuk to the tubing starting point
  • 10.30 am - Arrive at starting point. Start of tubing.
  • 3.00 pm - End of tubing. Return tube to tubing rental office

Tubing rental office in Vang Vieng
At the tubing rental office. Paid up and waited a bit for a tuk tuk to bring us to the start point. Let's go tubing!
River tubing along the Nam Song river
The tuk tuk brought and dropped us off at the tubing starting point
River tubing along the Nam Song river
There are still leftovers from Vang Vieng's old party days along parts of the river. From jumping platforms to ziplines to abandoned shacks, many of them are disused and in a state of disrepair
River tubing along the Nam Song river
Beautiful scenery seen along the Nam Song river. The river flows very slowly, so if you're tubing, expect to stare at the same scenery for quite some time
River tubing along the Nam Song river
Scenery finally changes after an hour or so later. There's not much shade from the sun while tubing, so bring plenty of sunblock
River tubing along the Nam Song river
Candid shot of my tube 
River tubing along the Nam Song river
NOOO! Exactly my thoughts when I saw the end point

Back in Vang Vieng
  • 3.30 pm - Back to guesthouse for a shower and rest
  • Dinner at the same sandwich stall - Chicken omelette bacon sandwich (20,000 kip)
  • Book with a tour agency a minivan transfer to Vientiane departing at 9am the next day - 40,000 kip. The tour agency at M Mart (opposite Roung Nakhon Palace hotel) gave a good price for the transfer, highly recommended!
  • 11.00 pm - Head over to Sakura Bar for a late nighter before heading back to the guesthouse

Sakura Bar in Vang Vieng
Spent my final evening at Sakura Bar, Vang Vieng's liveliest nightspot



Vang Vieng to Vientiane by minivan
  • 7.30 am - Wake up, pack up and check-out from the guesthouse
  • Breakfast at the same sandwich stall nearby - Bacon omelet sandwich (15,000 kip)
  • 9.00 am - Pickup from the hostel by minivan. Depart for Vientiane

Arrival in Vientiane
  • 12.15pm - Arrive in Vientiane (dropped off at the city center near the national stadium)
  • Walk to my accommodation in Vientiane (under 10 minutes). Check-in to Lucky Backpackers hostel - 40,000 kip per night (staying for 1 night). The place is not too bad, it's located quite close to the night market, I guess it's good enough for a night's stay
  • Rented a bicycle from the hostel to start touring around Vientiane - 10,000 kip (for half day usage)

Rue Setthathilath in Vientiane
Arrival in Vientiane. The street pictured here is Rue Setthathilath, one of the main tourist streets in the city
Lucky Backpackers Hostel in Vientiane
Checked in to Lucky Backpackers Hostel, my accommodation in Vientiane for a night
Lucky Backpackers Hostel in Vientiane
My dorm in the hostel, good for a night's stay

Cycling tour around Vientiane
  • 1.30 pm - Cycle from the hostel to Patuxai gate (under 15 minutes). Short photo stop at Patuxai gate before continuing on. There's a viewpoint at the top of Patuxai you can climb up to. Good spot to get a bird's eye view of Vientiane. There's an admission fee of 3,000 kip
  • 2.45 pm - Continue on to Pha That Luang, widely regarded as the most important national monument in Laos, which is another 15 minutes from Patuxai gate
  • 3.00 pm - 5.00 pm - Arrive at Pha That Luang. Paid the entrance fee - 5,000 kip. Stayed around until closing time, at 4pm, then visited some of the temples around the area before continuing on
  • Cycled from Pha That Luang to Chao Anouvong park (under 30 minutes). 
  • 5.30 pm - 7.00 pm - Walked around the riverside area, then head over to Hat Don Chan to watch the sunset over the Mekong river
  • Dinner at a restaurant near the riverside - Grilled chicken & sausages, seafood fried rice & watermelon shake (75,000 kip)
  • 8.00 pm - Walked around the night market. Did some last minute shopping until almost closing time (10pm), before returning to the hostel

Patuxai Gate in Vientiane
Candid shot of my pink bicycle in front of the Patuxai gate 
Pha That Luang in Vientiane
Pha That Luang, widely regarded as the most important national monument in Laos
Wat Thatluang Neua in Vientiane
Wat Thatluang Neua are some of the interesting temples around Pha That Luang that are worth visiting
Lane Xang Ave in Vientiane
Cycling back along Lane Xang Ave. The big green building on the left is Talat Sao Mall
Chao Anouvong park in Vientiane
Chao Anouvong statue at the park of the same name
Hat Don Chan in Vientiane
Interesting sand sculptures at Hat Don Chan
Sunset at Hat Don Chan in Vientiane
Watching the sun set over the horizon of the Mekong river that separates Laos on the right, and Thailand on the left
Night market in Vientiane
Spent the remainder of my evening at the night market in Chao Anouvong park



Last minute sightseeing in Vientiane
  • 8.00 am - Wake up, pack up and check-out from the guesthouse
  • Breakfast at the hostel - Fried eggs with toast & tea (included in the room rate)
  • 9.15 am - Walk from the hostel to Talat Sao mall (under 30 minutes). Did quick photo stops at That Dam and Wat Sisaket along the way
  • 10.00 am - 11.00 am - Walked around Talat Sao mall and did some last minute shopping

That Dam in Vientiane
That Dam, located not far from Talat Sao mall
Wat Sisaket in Vientiane
Quick detour to Wat Sisaket before heading to Talat Sao mall
Talat Sao Mall in Vientiane
Talat Sao Mall from the outside
Talat Sao Mall in Vientiane
Spent my last few hours in Talat Sao mall before moving on to Thailand

Vientiane to Thailand using the DIY method
  • Earlier, I did inquire the hostel I stayed on the pricing for transfers to Nong Khai (Thailand) and was quoted 50,000 kip. Not the cheapest but fortunately there's an easy, cheaper way to get to Nong Khai from Vientiane
  • 11.05 am - Walk from Talat Sao mall to Khua Din bus station (under 5 minutes). Waited for about 15 minutes then got onto bus #14 bound for Buddha Park - 6,000 kip
  • 12.00pm - Hop off at Thanaleng friendship bridge
  • Immigration clearance. Changed all my kips back into thai bahts at the currency exchange
  • 12.20 pm - Ride shuttle bus from Laos to Thailand via the friendship bridge - 4,000 kip

Khua Din bus station in Vientiane
Khua Din bus station, located behind Talat Sao Mall
Friendship bridge in Vientiane
Bus #14 from Khua Din will drop you off at the friendship bridge
Friendship bridge in Vientiane
Taking the shuttle bus across the friendship bridge to Thailand



How much?
What for?
LAK 524,000
Accommodation
LAK 30,000
Accommodation in Huay Xai (1 night)
LAK 50,000
Accommodation in Luang Namtha (1 night)
LAK 174,000
Accommodation in Luang Prabang (4 nights)
LAK 40,000
Accommodation in Nong Khiaw (1 night)
LAK 70,000
Accommodation in Muang Ngoi Neua (2 nights)
LAK 120,000
Accommodation in Vang Vieng (2 nights)
LAK 40,000
Accommodation in Vientiane (1 night)


LAK 786,000
Ground Cost
LAK 25,000
Transportation around Huay Xai
LAK 60,000
Bus from Huay Xai to Luang Namtha
LAK 20,000
Transportation around Luang Namtha
LAK 120,000
Bus from Luang Namtha to Luang Prabang
LAK 60,000
Transportation around Luang Prabang
LAK 20,000
Admission – Kuang Si Waterfall
LAK 5,000
Admission – Bamboo bridge
LAK 20,000
Admission – Mt Phousi
LAK 125,000
Minivan from Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw & back
LAK 5,000
Transportation around Nong Khiaw
LAK 50,000
Boat from Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoi Neua & back
LAK 10,000
Admission – Phanoi cave
LAK 10,000
Tourist fee – Muang Ngoi countryside & Tham Kang cave
LAK 120,000
Minivan from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
LAK 10,000
Bicycle rental in Vang Vieng (half day)
LAK 6,000
Toll fee – Nam Song bridge
LAK 55,000
Tubing rental
LAK 40,000
Minivan from Vang Vieng to Vientiane
LAK 10,000
Bicycle rental in Vientiane (1 day)
LAK 5,000
Admission – Pha That Luang
LAK 10,000
Transportation from Vientiane to Nong Khai (Thailand)


LAK 612,000
Misc
LAK 597,000
Food & drinks
LAK 15,000
Miscellaneous (laundry)


LAK 1,922,000
Total

How much did it cost me?

  • In local currency: LAK 1,922,000
  • Conversion rate (at the time): MYR 1 = LAK 2,200
  • After conversion: MYR 873 (for 13 days)


5 comments

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Back to Top