We made a trip to Laos in July so Alexis could get her Non-Immigrant B Visa (more commonly called a work visa). Read her story about how she landed a teaching job in Chiang Mai. To get the visa, we needed to go to Vientiane, Laos’ capital city. We went over a long weekend, so we had a little more time and decided to make a trip out of it.

We knew we wanted to go to Luang Prabang as we had heard great things, but weren’t super excited about the two day boat ride along the Mekong River we had heard about, so we opted to fly instead. We took a direct flight from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang on Lao Airlines for $170 a person. A steep price for an hour flight, but we were glad we weren’t stuck on that boat.

We paid for 30-day visas-on-arrival in the Luang Prabang airport. You’ll need two passport photos and $35 USD per visa. It’s far better to pay in USD because the price in baht or kip converts to about $45 USD.

From the airport (A), we took a shared taxi into town (only about 10 minutes). There is a taxi stand just as you leave the airport that charges a set rate of 25,000 kip per person (about $3).

We stayed at the Philaylack Villa 1 (B) for two nights. The room was clean, the A/C worked well, and they provided free water which is always appreciated. The wifi was a little slow, but overall we had no complaints.


The nightly market (C) was fun to walk around while we were there. It’s very similar to the night markets in Chiang Mai, with the exception of these tantalizing toxic liquors. “No snake? No scorpion?” “No, thank you.”


We heard chanting so we stopped at this temple just off the night market street. The gold details on the temple were awesome.

The monks were all boys reciting chants from a book. It was a super cool melodic sound.

The monks were all boys reciting chants from a book. It was a beautiful melodic sound.


Also off the night market street are steps that lead up to another temple, Wat Tham Phou Si. About halfway up there is a landing where a few ladies were collecting 20,000 kip ($2.50) from each person (read: foreigner) to keep climbing the steps and see the temple. We didn’t feel like paying, so we just hung out on that landing for a bit and took some nice dusk pictures of Luang Prabang.


The next day, we took a tuk tuk out to Kuang Si Waterfall (D). The drive takes about 30-45 minutes each way. We payed 100,000 kip total ($12) for the two of us which included transportation there and back. The driver just waits for you all day and it’s up to you and the other people in the tuk tuk to decide on a time you want to head back into town. Our group stayed for three to four hours which felt like a good amount of time.


View from Kuang Si Waterfall (D) looking back down the trail. It’s a series of four or five ponds with the actual waterfall at the very back. It’s a nice day trip, the water felt great, and the short hike up to the falls passes through a bear conservation area!


After a nice day at the waterfall, we ate dinner at a restaurant on the road that runs along the Mekong River. So delicious and chocolatey!


After two days in Luang Prabang, we headed down south to Vientiane. Read about the horrible 12 hour bus ride here.


In spite of 12 miserable hours on that bus, we saw some pretty amazing views.


Honestly, there’s not much to report about Vientiane itself. We didn’t think much of it — it’s just a dirty city. We spent almost all of our time there getting Alexis’ visa situation worked out. You can read about that process here. Continue reading for a few details of where we stayed and what we did.

One of the many, many reasons our bus ride from Luang Prabang to Vientiane was horrible (again, do yourself a favor and read the trip post… we name names) was because after all day on the bus, we got dropped off at the wrong bus station. We should have been taken to the southern bus station (B), which was only a five minute walk from our guesthouse, the Aroon Residence (C), but instead we were all told to get out at the northern bus station (A) which was way out of town.

It definitely seemed like a set part of the scam because there was only one tuk tuk waiting there at the bus station, forcing everyone on the bus to catch a ride into town with him. It was probably the bus driver’s cousin or something.

Anyways, the Aroon Residence was really nice. The bathroom was spacious and clean, the bed was comfortable, and again, free water.

The next day we headed to the Thai Embassy (D) to get Alexis’ work visa. Do not go there, that is not where they process visa applications. There was a security guard who directed us to the Thailand Consular Section (E), which is where all visa matters are handled.

Waiting in visa lines was how we spent the majority of two days. The only other things we can report are two good coffee shops in Vientiane: Joma Bakery Café (F) and Cafe Nomad, which is right next to the Thai Consular Section (E). The street Joma is on is the main tourist street in Vientiane. Joma is a Laos chain that we went to Luang Prabang as well. Their breakfast burritos are pretty great.