9 Days In Laos: The Best Itinerary

The best comprehensive guide for things you’ll do, place you’ll go, where you’ll eat, and where to stay over 9 days in Laos.
Your comprehensive 9 day itinerary for travel in Laos. Photo: Pascal Müller | Unsplash

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Laos is a beautiful, laid-back country in Southeast Asia teeming with historical and cultural attractions, religious landmarks, exquisite architecture, fun outdoor activities, and jaw-dropping natural scenery at every turn.

Plus, you’ve heard about how inexpensive travel is across the country, and how Laos fits the mold of popular places around the world like Bali, Palawan, and Bangkok, as a backpacker’s paradise.

And now, you’ve got your eyes set on exploring the fascinating region, but you just need some type of guidance as to things to do and places to see in Laos. Well, here’s your comprehensive itinerary for 9 days in Laos.      

Day 1: Vientiane

Vientiane is one of the most popular cities to visit in Laos. After all, not only is it the capital and largest city in the country—it’s also beaming with beautifully crafted, local aesthetic architecture and fascinating religious monuments at every turn.

You’ll want to start your vacation in Laos by stepping foot in the best city for a good mix of culturally immersive experiences and enough international influence so you don’t feel too far from home. And thus, welcome to Vientiane!      

Petaxuai Victory Gate. Photo: NguyenDo | Pixabay

What to do and see in Vientiane?

It’s your first day on foreign land, so spend time familiarizing yourself with your surroundings by focusing on sightseeing and simple leisure activities that will take you across the city.

After checking into your hotel, let Patuxai, a massive war monument commemorating those who gave their lives in the fight for Laotian independence against France, be your first attraction to see.

Afterwards, head over to the Cope Visitor Centre for exhibitions and documentaries about the charity’s efforts to educate the masses about Unexploded Ordinance (UXO) Laotian victims during the Korean War.   

To get a good feel of the local people, pay a visit to Vientiane Center Lao, a shopping mall, and in the evening, walk the riverfront for lovely scenic views of Mekong River.

Where to eat in Vientiane?

Start your trip with delicious grilled Mekong fish and sticky rice and meat dishes at Lao Kitchen. Or, pay a visit to Union Pizza and Shawarma for burgers, pizza, and middle Eastern cuisine.   

If you’re ready to dive right into traditional Laotian street snacks, make a trip to Vangthong Evening Food Market, where you can find vendors selling everything from roasted duck and sausage to grilled fish and meat skewers. 

Where to stay in Vientiane?

  • $$$ – Crowne Plaza Vientiane by IHG
  • $$ – Sure Stay Hotel by Best Western
  • $ – Bloom Hotel and Cafe

Related: 9 Day Cambodia Itinerary – The Ultimate Trip

Day 2: Vientiane

By now you’ve settled in, and today, you’ll get out and explore top attractions across Vientiane, which will primarily fall into cultural and religious landmarks. Make sure you’ve thrown on your walking shoes and grabbed a bottle of water because you’ll be all over the place!   

Pha That Luang Buddhist statue. Photo: Dezalb | Pixabay

What to do and see in Vientiane?

Start your day with an exciting trip to Pha That Luang, a central gold-covered historical compound featuring a 45m tall Buddhist monument that’s renown as the national symbol of Laos.  

Next, explore the 1000+ Buddha figurines over at Wat Sisaket, an ancient Buddhist temple museum also featured murals and cultural relics. In continuation of exploring Buddhists artifacts across Laos, spend time examining numerous religious reinforced concrete statues at Buddha Park.

By evening’s time, stroll the vendor laced streets of Vientiane Night Market where you can find everything from handcrafts, clothes, and accessories, to paintings, souvenirs, and local foods.

Where to eat in Vientiane?

In the evening, swing by Ban Anou Night Market for a taste of mouthwatering local street food like spicy noodles, meat skewers, and grilled chicken, duck, buffalo, and seafood. If you’re up for it—and why not, you’re in Laos!—you can even munch on crickets, water beetles, stink bugs, and silk worm larvae.

Should you want to instead dine at a sit-down restaurant, head over Pa Kham Tan to feast on some delicious Laap, which is a delicious herb salad combined with minced meat and flavored with seasonings and sauces.   

Day 3: Vientiane

Day 3 in Vientiane is all about exploring museums, historical landmarks, and squeezing in some time to shop in the capital city.    

The Presidential Palace in the distance. Photo: Alessio Roversi | Unsplash

What to do and see in Vientiane?

Rise and shine! Let’s begin your last day in Vientiane by grabbing a few handmade souvenirs at Talat Sao, or Morning Market. Afterwards, head over to Vat that Khao for an incredible look at one of the most sacred Buddhist temples in Laos. Next, spend an hour or two learning about the history and culture of Laos through informative exhibits and displays and Lao National Museum.

When you’re finished, swing by the Presidential Palace, which is a beautifully designed multi-purpose building used by the local government. You may not be able to go inside, but it’s definitely worth viewing from afar. 

Where to eat in Vientiane?

It’s your last night in Vientiane, so let’s grab some food and drinks at Bor Pen Nyang, a scenic rooftop bar that overlooks Mekong River. You’ll have a wide range of food to choose from—local dishes like larb (salads w/minced meat) and seafood soup, along with pizza, burgers, and fajitas—and Laotian beer. If you’d rather stick with local dishes in a lively atmosphere, head over to the iconic Khop Chai Deu, which is one of the oldest and most popular restaurants in Vientiane.

Day 4: Vang Vieng

Travel Time: Drive/Driver: 2 hours | Bus: 2 hours from Vientiane.

It’s time for your first trip out of Vientiane. Welcome to Vang Vieng. Here, you’ll spend the majority of your time going on fun outdoor adventures in nature.

Tubing down Nam Song River. Photo: Chris Feser | Flickr

What to do and see in Vang Vieng?

Let’s start your morning by renting a motorbike for around $5 to $8 from a specialty shop or tourist friendly hostel in the area and explore Vang Vieng’s countryside on your own. 

Next, partake in perhaps the most popular activity to do in Vang Vieng—tubing or kayaking down the beautiful Nam Song River. The entire journey takes around 3 hours and you’ll have epic views of the region’s karst hills and limestone mountains. This is something you won’t wat to miss!

Afterwards, feel free to explore the picturesque rice fields of Vieng Tara. Make sure to bring your best camera as you’ll want to capture the fields in between the lush mountainside backdrop.

Later, go on a moderate 0.4 mile hike to reach Nam Xay Viewpoint, a popular scenic attraction that places you 400m above Vang Vieng.  

Where to eat in Vang Vieng?

For breakfast, head down to Luang Prabang Bakery for scrumptious sandwiches, pastries, and cheesecake. In the afternoon, try Viman Vang Vieng, a German-Thai restaurant specializing in Thai curry, Bratwurst, schnitzel, and local beef laap. In the evening, have dinner at Happy Mango Thai Restaurant, where you can snack on pineapple rice, prawn hot pot, and top it all off with a delicious mango sundae.

Where to stay in Vang Vieng?

  • $$$ – Inthira Vang Vieng
  • $$ – Amari Vang Vieng
  • $ – River View Bungalows

Day 5: Vang Vieng

Congrats! You’ve made it to day 5 in Laos, and as you pass the halfway mark of your trip, let’s continue your epic outdoor adventures in Vang Vieng with fun activities and immersive experiences in the city’s natural hotspots.  

Blue Lagoon of Vang Vieng. Photo: Rolling Okie | Flickr

What to do and see in Vang Vieng?

Today you’ll be hopping on a tuk-tuk and heading over to Tham Poukham Cave. Afterwards, take a dip in the popular Blue Lagoon, a soothing turquoise body of water that is open for swimming and other fun water activities.

Next, get your heart pumping by going on a thrilling 9 course zipline across Vang Vieng’s lush rainforest. You can arrange a zipline tour with TCK Zipline, Green Discovery Laos, or AK Home Tours. Afterwards, make your way to Tham Nam Water Cave to continue your fun adventures tubing in the water underneath narrow and low rock formations.  

Lastly, enjoy a swim and stunning views of the 30m tall Kaeng Nyui Waterfall, and end your stay in Vang Vieng with drinks and watching the sun set over the mountains at Smile Beach Bar.  

Where to eat in Vang Viene?

On your last day in Vang Vieng, try some authentic Mexican food at Amigo’s Vang Vieng Restaurant. Or, scarf down mouthwatering vegetarian meals like roasted eggplant and Asian fusion dishes while enjoying cocktails and remarkable views of Nam Xong River at Restaurant du Crabe d’Or. Most online reviews will tell you that it’s one of the best restaurants in Vang Vieng.   

Day 6: Pakse

Travel Time: Bus | 3 hours + Flight | 1.15 hours from Vang Vieng. 

This trip will take you from the north into the southern region of Laos. Pakse is the 2nd most populous city in Laos, and with that, you can expect a wide array of interesting things to do and see.  

Alms Giving Ceremony in Laos. Laurentiu Morariu | Unsplash

What to do and see in Pakse?

Begin with an early morning observance of alms giving at Wat Luang. This is a daily practice of donating to monks as part of ritual in Theravada Buddhism. Watch locals give sticky rice and other items to monks as they in turn provide spiritual oversight.    

Next, head to the former palace of Prince Boun Oum Na Champasassak, which is now a hotel. You’ll want to check out the architecture of the famed ‘1000 door pavilion’. After, grab a tuk-tuk to the base of Wat Phu Salao and hike up the stairs to reach the massive golden Buddha statue—and hundreds of smaller statues—at the top of the hill. While there, enjoy watching the sunset over Mekong River.  

Where to eat in Pakse?

During your first day in Pakse, head over to Dao Heuang Market or Small Central Market for fresh fruits and vegetables, grilled meats, and pre-maid noodle dishes sold by vendors at decent prices. You can also try Vietnamese cuisine at Xuan Mai restaurant near Pakse Hotel, or Daolin Restaurant Café, which specializes in Asian cuisine and is vegetarian friendly.  

Where to stay in Pakse?

  • $$$ – Le Jardin Hotel
  • $$ – Athena Hotel
  • $ – Intouch Riverside Hotel

Day 7: Pakse

Today, let’s get acquainted with the beautiful natural landscape of Pakse with exciting outdoor trips to various scenic spots.

The Bolaven Plateau in Pakse. Photo: Kyle Taylor | Flickr

What to do and see in Pakse?

It’s the perfect time to join a private day tour with Green Discovery Laos. Accompanied by a local guide, you’ll ride in a comfortable minivan and go on pre-arranged excursions of immersive nature experiences across Pakse.

You can cruise around a section of the 4,000 islands, overlooking colonial bridges, gorges, statues, and waterfalls. Or, sign up for the Bolaven Plateau highlights tour where you can explore the lush jungles, gorgeous waterfalls, and ethnic villages of the sprawling highlands.        

Where to eat in Pakse?

Go for flavorsome Indian food at Nazim Restaurant if you’re looking to try something different from what you’ve been eating. Should you want to stick with local and western food, head to Daolin Restaurant and Café for stir-fried noodle dishes, Lao sausage, papaya salad, and blueberry pancakes. In the evening, grab drinks, listen to live music, and take in river views at Louk Sai La.

Day 8: Luang Prabang

Travel Time: Flight | 1.40 hours from Pakse.

Luang Prabang lies in Northern Laos and was once the capital city of Laos. Today, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is primarily known for its large collection of Buddhist temples and picturesque natural scenery, both of which you’ll be exploring over the next 2 days.   

Temple in Luang Prabang. Photo: JoelleLC | Pixabay

What to do and see in Luang Prabang?

Let’s start by exploring any one of the 30+ ancient temples in Luang Prabang. Enjoy their beautiful aesthetic architecture while embracing a profound spiritual connection. You’ll definitely want to visit Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Souvannapoumaram, and Wat Wisunarat.

Next, try a different experience by heading over to the Mandalao Elephant Sanctuary where you can spend time interacting with free roaming elephants. Afterwards, take a 328-steps hike up Mount Phousi for a 360-degree bird’s eye view of Luang Prabang from 100m above sea level. 

Later, end your night with an authentic Laotian message at Burasari Sap or Lao Phu Thai Massage and Spa.

Where to eat in Luang Prabang?

For your last days in Laos, you’ll want to wine at dine at only best restaurants in Luang Prabang. With that, go for authentic Laotian dishes at Yuni Yupoun Restaurant, also listed as BOUANG Asian Eatery on Google, or at Dyen Sebai. For pleasant views of Mekong River while you eat Thai cuisine, make your way to the outdoor dining section of Belle Rive Terrace.

Where to stay in Luang Prabang?

  • $$$ – Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel
  • $$ – Sunrise Garden House
  • $ – Y Not Lao Villa

Day 9: Luang Prabang

Another congratulations! It’s your last day in Laos, so let’s enjoy simple leisure activities and attractions before heading to Luang Prabang International Airport and flying back home.

Kuang Si Waterfall. Photo: Sharonang | Pixabay

What to do and see in Luang Prabang?

In the morning, pay a visit to Royal Palace Museum and unearth the history and culture of modern Laos. You can also continue learning about the ethnic cultures across Laos with a trip to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Museum.

The main objective of the day is to get to Kuang Si Falls and have a swim in the natural bodies of water surrounding the magnificent wonder. On the way to or from there, stop by the bear sanctuary and Kuang Si Falls Butterfly Park.

Furthermore, end your 9-day trip in Laos on a high note by taking a relaxing, 2 hour scenic cruise down Mekong River.

Where to eat in Luang Prabang?

For your last day in Laos, visit Luang Prabang Night Market, located along Sisavangvong Road. Stuff your mouth with everything from your typical sticky rice, grilled meats and seafood, kebabs, and savory beef sausage, to barbecued bananas, coconut milk pancakes, tropical fruit and Lao khao soi, a staple rice noodle dish favored amongst the locals.  

Final thoughts:

Festival in Vientiane, Laos. Photo: Molydar SOUAMA | Unsplash

Well, there you have it—your comprehensive guide for how to best spend 9 days in Laos. You’ll travel between 4 cities and partake in lots of cultural activities and outdoor excursions. You’ll visit religious landmarks and eat like a local. I can’t wait for you to cross Laos off your travel bucket list, and when you do, just make sure to tag #EarthCurious in all of your wonderful pictures. Safe and happy travels! article, with an image too.


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