With plenty of beautiful spots, Laos offers various options for backpackers to hang out.
Here you can find the list of top 10 places for backpackers in Laos
The below video may be the idea for you to travel to Laos as a backpacker
NO DOUBT, Vang Vieng, sitting between Vientiane and Luang Prabang, is the heaven for backpackers in Laos.
In the days of old this part of Laos had a rather wild reputation and a surprisingly vibrant nightlife scene, although now it has become a little more staid thanks to action taking by the local government to clean up its image.
One of the main reasons to come to Vang Vieng is to enjoy the tubing down the Nam Song River and you can take in the lush jungle scenery here at the same time.
There are also other spots such as the Tham Phu Kham Cave which is known for its lagoon and bronze statue of the Buddha.
Love partying and tubing, here is the video for you
Nam Ngum Lake - The north part in Ban Thaheua
20 kilometers south of Vang Vieng, the vast Ang Nam Ngum Reservoir sits above the northern edge of the Vientiane Plain, where the rice-growing flat lands surrounding the capital meet the mountainous terrain of the north.
Created when the Nam Ngum River was dammed in 1971, the deep green waters of the reservoir are dotted with scores of forest-clad islands stretching to a dramatic horizon lined with mountains, their peaks lost in mist.
Nam Ngum Lake serves as the peaceful stop for the travelers from Vientiane traveling up north to Luang Prabang or vice versa.
In the recent years, the development of accommodation gives more choice for the traveler, and the area becomes a good resting places for backpackers after partying in Vang Vieng.
Here is the story of a couple, who spends time at a resort in Nam Ngum to rest after partying in Vang Vieng
The Thakhek Loop, also known as the Konglor Loop or simply “the Loop”, is a 450-kilometre motorcycle journey through some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Laos.
Imagine traversing vast flat valleys bursting with emerald rice paddies and limestone peaks that jut up from the earth like jagged prehistoric fangs.
At the base of these karst you’ll find blue lagoons, remote rural villages and caves galore, the highlight being Konglor Cave.
Imagine zipping on a boat through pitch darkness for 7.5-kilometres, clear to the other side of the mountain.
The loop can be done in as little as three days, but more are recommended depending on how many sights you want to take in and how many kilometers per day you want to ride. The journey should really be savored. Three days is a rush, four days is more leisurely, five plus includes relaxation and side-trips.
The loop starts and ends in Thakhek, taking you through Khammuan and Bolikhamsai Province, two national protected areas, an enormous reservoir, a karst “forest” and to within 30 km of the Vietnam border. Most do the journey anti-clockwise, passing through the towns/villages in this order: Mahaxay, Nakai, Thalang, Lak Xao, Na Hin, Konglor and Vieng Kham.
Over the years, the Thakhek Loop has steadily risen in popularity on backpacker bucket lists—and gained notoriety due to the challenging unpaved roads. Completing it felt like a badge of honour, especially during rainy season when the roads disintegrated into a brutal Tough Mudder obstacle course. At times the 50 kilometer stretch from Thalang to Lak Xao could take four hours.
The loop is a highlight reel, from memorable accommodation, to waterfall treks, swims in cool springs and breathtaking viewpoints—enjoy every kilometre. And do watch out for those water buffalo.
Here is the video about exploring Thakhek Loop on motorbike
Luang Namtha & Muang Sing
Luang Namtha is known for being the largest city in the northwest part of Laos and is famous for being a stop off point for anyone traveling between Laos and neighboring China.
This is also a top spot for anyone who likes to go trekking as you can get out into the surrounding mountains and visit the villages of the ethnic hill tribes in Laos.
If you don’t want to trek then you can also rent a bicycle or a motorcycle and then spend the day scooting around the various villages and checking out the gorgeous waterfalls in this part of the country.
In the town of Luang Namtha itself you can spend your time visiting bustling local markets, sampling the street food and indulging in the herbal saunas here.
The small town and district of Muang Sing sits nestled in a wide-open valley ringed by a fortress of green hills and mountains, just 58 kilometres northwest of Luang Nam Tha. It has all the makings of a star destination: gorgeous scenery, relaxed atmosphere and an astonishing number of ethnic minority villages living side by side.
Within 10 kilometers of the town center live nine distinct groups: Akha, Tai Lue, Tai Neua, Lolo, Hmong, Tai Dam, Khmu, Phou Noi and Yao. Men and women in traditional dress are a common and brilliant sight and this high concentration of minority groups is almost unparalleled in not only Laos, but all of Southeast Asia.
There are also 25 temples in the valley. This density of wats cannot be found anywhere else in Laos outside of Luang Prabang.
All this guarantees a favorite place for backpacker to hang out and explore for months.
Done Det & Done Khone (4000 Islands)
Laos is known for not having a coastline so it may sound strange to hear that it is the home of the Si Phan Don Islands which means ‘Four Thousand Islands’ in Lao.
The islands are caused by the Mekong River dispersing close to the border between Laos and Cambodia which has created these amazing little islets.
The islands vary in size which is great as you can choose some of the larger islands like Done Khone and Done Det if you want a little more nightlife and a wider range of accommodation options.
You can also visit sleepier island like Don Khong if you really want to fall off the grid and get away from it all in Laos.
Check below video about the exciting 4000 Islands
Set in the Xekong river valley in the southeastern corner of Laos, wedged between Sekong province to the north, Champasak province to the west, Cambodia to the south and Vietnam to the east, languid Attapeu is as frontier as it gets.
Welcome to the deep dirty south of Laos.
This area is the least visited part of Laos. For anyone who has spent some time in Laos, the province’s reputation precedes it.
We’ve heard fantastical tales of mining towns that are like the wild wild west, complete with saloons with swinging doors and patrons open carrying arms.
The average intrepid traveler who ventures to Attapeu won’t see gunslingers, prospectors or painted ladies.
You’ll glide along a virtually traffic-free scenic sealed road down from the Bolaven Plateau, and in the provincial capital you’ll see the fisherman casting his net, farmers harvesting rice, a woman guiding her buffalo home and kids splashing in the river at the end of the scorching hot day.
Welcome to Attapeu, the real sleeping beauties of Laos
Nong Khiaw & Muang Ngoi Neua
Sit along the Nam Ou river, Nong Khiaw and Muang Ngoi Neua are becoming more and more popular among backpackers to Laos. The 2 towns can be connected by 1-hour boat trip along the Nam Ou river
Nong Khiaw is also known as Nong Kiau and is a pretty spot in Laos that is rapidly gaining a name for itself as one of the best places to visit in the country if you want to get away from it all.
Here you will find some amazing trekking and hiking opportunities and you can spend time biking around the scenic villages here that surround the main town.
Nong Khiaw also sits on the delightful Nam Ou River so you can take a boat trip here that you will let you take in all the scenery from the vantage point of the water.
This part of the country is also surrounded by gorgeous karst formations and the limestone caves here such as the Pha Tok Caves are a great location for anyone who enjoys spelunking.
Muang Ngoi Neua used to be relatively sleepy and under visited, although nowadays it has become known for being a stop off on the legendary Banana Pancake Trail which wraps around several countries in Southeast Asia.
As you would expect, it has now become more and more popular with backpackers who come here for the chance to enjoy the riverside setting and spend time at places like Nam Ou Beach.
You can also get out into the small ethnic villages that surround the town or trek to several famous caves and splendid waterfalls.
Bordered by Yunnan, China and Dien Bien, Vietnam, Phongsali is the northernmost province in Laos. Unforgiving mountainous, sparsely populated, remote and mysterious, it doesn’t get much further than this.
Resting on a ridge in the shadow of Phou Fa (“Sky Mountain”), the small provincial capital and former French colonial outpost is the jumping-off point for treks in the province, which was once part of the Ancient Tea Horse Road (also known as the Southern Silk Road).
Since the 7th Century until as late as the mid-20th Century, tea was exchanged for precious metals, salt and horses on this caravan trade route that spanned southwest China and Tibet.
Locating far in the northern Laos, Phongsaly is completely out of the tourist route, yet it is becoming more and more popular among backpackers who are looking a real colorful heaven.
Below is the simple video about Phongsaly
The northern town of Muang Khua (Muang Khoua) sits at the crossroads of two major “roads”, Highway 2E linking Udomxai to the Vietnamese border, and the Nam Ou river, a waterway-highway through three provinces.
The town was once a beautiful, peaceful spot and the necessary layover was a welcome pause—some relaxing downtime by the river was a good argument for lingering.
A picturesque wooden suspension bridge spans the Nam Phak, in dry season a lazy waterway lined with palms and vegetable gardens.
Muang Khua is not a bad place to break up the journey and stretch the legs.
For those who are passing through and not in a hurry, there are trekking opportunities and like everywhere in Phongsali Province, investing more time gets you further “out there”.
The province is rich with ethnic diversity, only a trickle of travellers use Muang Khua as their portal to trekking, the area is remote and villages remain hardscrabble and hard to reach. One thing’s for sure: you don’t have to worry about mass tourism.
Samneua - Viengxai cave
Hua Phan and its capital Sam Neua rival Phongsali for the title of Laos’ most remote province.
Mountainous and particularly scenic, the province has a mish-mashed network of dirt and sealed roads and lacklustre public transport to match.
Hua Phan is all about slow travel.
Sam Neua sits in a small picturesque valley, a town of white concrete houses topped with red roofs, surrounded by the vibrant green of young rice fields and the grey-green of the mountains.
The town is famous for two major reasons.
There is one fantastic tourist attraction that is not frequently visited that absolutely should be: the caves of Vieng Xai, which is famed for being the region where the communist Pathet Lao forces were headquartered during their struggle with the Lao royal family at the same time the American War in Vietnam was raging.
Combining Samneua and Vieng Xai with the visit to the northern of Laos, and then cross the border to Vietnam is the ideal route for the ones who really love the nature and remote areas.
A video from backpacker couple travelling to Samneua and Viengxai caves