We're currently working our way up through Vietnam, looking to make our way into Laos from Hanoi. I've heard differing opinions of places to go in Laos, so i'd be interested to hear anyones opinions or recommendations?!
We're not big fans of touristy places, preferring more chilled out scenic places and we'll probably be there for about 10 days to 2 weeks if that helps?!
I went to Luang Pra Bang, Vietienne and Vang Vieng. Luang Pra Bang is a gorgeous atmospheric town with a great night market, good places to eat and lots to see and do around the town including a spectacular waterfall. Vang Vieng is a lot of fun and very beautiful. However, it is only really tourists there... but, I would still give it a day or two as the scenery there is some of the best I've seen. Vietienne is pretty boring. There is a nighttime curfew of about 11pm after which the hotels close their doors. There isn't really anything of major interest to see or do there...
drew, if you only have 10 - 14 days you'll be at a push to see both the north and south of laos. the difficulty is that the less touristy destinations are pretty much at opposite ends of the country. the hills of the north (stunning) start around vang vieng and the south is very flat with river islands at the border with cambodia.
i would strongly recommend phonsavan (plain of jars), vang vieng (tubing) . luang prabang (waterfall & night market), nong khiaw (boat trip from luang prabang) and luang namtha (amazing hill trekking & tribes) in the north. although vang vieng and luang prabang are extremely touristy they are worth a couple of days each if you head that way.
in the south i'd check out pakse (waterfalls), champasak (11th century cham ruins), si phan don (chilled out islands, biggest waterfall in SEA). not much goin on in vientianne but it has an impressive wat in the town. i thought south was less touristy. the southern end of don det was really chill stayin in $2 riverside bungalows.
i loved laos and the people are really relaxed, it's a slower pace of life compared to vietnam and even cambodia happy days