I spent 2 weeks in Lao between 26th November and 11th December 2016. I travelled as a couple and always slept in Hostel/Bus.
This itinerary is my personal taste and I didn’t use any kind of agency to book anything. I mostly used the internet to search for some logistics regarding transportation. I also used the South East Asia edition of Lonely Planet but you don’t really need any guide book because it’s easy to travel in Lao. Just ask at the reception of your hotel/hostel about how to get to any place and you’ll have everything in place for the next day.
- 4000 Islands (Si Pha Don) (3 days, local bus to Paksé)
- Paksé (Bolaven Plateau) (3 days on the Plateau and 1 day trip to Champassak. From Paksé I got a night bus to Vientiane)
- Vientiane (1 day and then got into a minivan to Vang Vieng. 1 day on my way back to Thailand.)
- Vang Vieng (3 days, minivan to Luang Prabang)
- Luang Prabang (3 days, night bus to Vientiane and train to Thailand.)
- I didn't travel by plane in Lao.
- Crossed the Friendship Bridge to Thailand from Vientiane.
- 4000 Islands (Si Pha Don): I came from Siem Reap and used AVT (Asian Van Transfer), stopping 1-2h for lunch, transportation to the border, another van from the other side of the border and finally a boat to your desired island (Don Det / Don Khon)
- Paksé (Bolaven Plateau): The bus from Nakasong left me in downtown Paksé where it was easy to walk to the place I was staying. I rented a motorbike in Nang Noi Guesthouse for ~7$ per day and went to the Bolaven Plateau. To get to Vientiane I got a night bus that left me in downtown.
- Vientiane: I got a shared minivan to Vang Vieng from my guesthouse. I don't think that Vientiane is worth stopping.
- Vang Vieng: I bought a ticket for a shared minivan to Luang Prabang in my guest house.
- Luang Prabang: Since I wanted to go directly to Bangkok, I first had to get a night bus to Vientiane and from there I got the train to Thailand through the Friendship Bridge.
- ~15€ per day, all included.
This includes all kind of daily expenses, rooms (between 6-15€ double room), food (between 1-3€ local food mostly), entrance tickets, transportation (bus, ferry and minivan), motorbike renting, etc…
- It is very easy to get the Lao Visa if you're crossing the border by land. Just fill the form that will be handed to you with your basic information, pay the visa fee in Dollars (this depends on your nationality), pay the 2$ stamp exit/entry fee (this is a bribe and you can try to contest, some people had some success), and just wait for your passport.
- 4000 Islands, the sheer beauty of the landscape.
- Bolaven Plateau, grab a motorbike and explore this great circuit, full of little villages and friendly people.
- Vientiane, nothing. Ugly.
- Vang Vieng, explore the surrounding nature with a motorbike or a bicycle. The nature here is remarkable!
- Luang Prabang, walk around and relax.