Backpacking in Laos

We arrived in Luang Prabang at 6am, completely exhausted after an overnight bus trip. When we found that our hotel wouldn’t have a room for us until noon, we grabbed a quick breakfast and drug ourselves hundreds of steps up Phou Si Mountain in the city center. We were rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding countryside and had the place almost entirely to ourselves so early in the morning. It’s definitely worth the climb!

Tin Buildings of Luang Prabang
Plastic Crate in Luang Prabang
Bicycles in Luang Prabang
Brick Steps to Phou Si Mountain
Water Taxis in Luang Prabang

During our stay in town we hired a tuk tuk driver to take us to Kuang Si Falls (I recommend splitting this with other backpackers as it’s an easy and cheap way to travel to the falls!). Again, we left very early in the morning and were able to swim in the pools and hike to the top of the falls without ever seeing another person. It’s hard to describe how beautiful the turquoise water and white rocks are when you feel like you’re alone in the world. While you’re visiting, it’s worth stopping into the Sun Bears Rescue Center – it’s a sad story but a hopeful organization.

Kuang Si Falls in Luang Prabang

During the several months my husband and I spent in Asia we often found ourselves swinging through towns for only a day on our way from one country to another. When traveling from Vang Vieng, Laos to Bangkok, we had a 24 hour stop in the Laotian capital city of Vientiane. When faced with these short visits our approach is always to seek out the most authentic experience possible rather than trying to cram in touristy landmarks or museums. This helps us to get a vibe for the place and to decide whether or not a second visit is needed!

Buddhist Statue in Vientiane Laos
Temple in Vientiane Laos

The French influence in Vientiane, a result of World War II, was evident as we strolled the small streets, and the city had a surprisingly cosmopolitan feel. There are great cafes on every corner, eye candy everywhere and a relaxed friendly vibe to the city. We stayed mostly in the city center, exploring the small and peaceful Wat Mixay and the surrounding area.

Street Signs in Vientiane Laos
Blue Tuk Tuk in Vientiane Laos
Buildings of Vientiane Laos
Market Cafe in Vientiane Laos
Bicycles in Vientiane Laos

Helpful Hints

Eat along the Mekong at sunset (and be sure to bring bug spray!)
Sample local whiskey, which begins at around $1 a bottle

Ashley Kelemen is a fine art wedding & travel photographer based in Southern California. She has a passion for film, scuba diving and big adventures. Follow along over the coming weeks as we share her 4-month jaunt around Southeast Asia on Entouriste! Need to catch up? Ashley started her journey in Hanoi.