Laos or Vietnam, Which is Better?

Vietnam is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. You can expect exotic dynamic big cities, wonderful cultural treasures, stunning natural beauty, picturesque tropical beaches and islands, and developed coffee culture. By the way, Vietnam is a paradise for foodies.

Laos is a landlocked nation, with mountainous landscapes to explore, historic heritages to discover, and countryside view to appreciate. The Mekong is the lifeblood for Laos, also providing caves and river kayaking to adventure.

Or immerse yourself into the religious life. Every morning in Luang Prabang, there are hundreds of saffron-robed monks to offer alms.

For those who have sufficient time, there is no need to pick one country. You can visit them together. But if considering the time budget, Laos or Vietnam, which is better? The comparison between Laos and Vietnam will be explained below.

Laos vs Vietnam Travel - Tourist Attractions

Both Laos and Vietnam are gifted with beautiful natural wonders. The long history brings the two nations rich cultural treasures.

The only difference is that Laos is a landlocked nation, so for beach lovers, Vietnam might be your better option.

Laos Offers More in the Way of Nature and Temple

The main tourist attractions of Laos tend to be more in the way of nature. And the natural landscapes are almost undeveloped.

Take a cycle from downtown Luang Prabang to the awesome Kuang Si Falls and Tad Sae Waterfall. Or cruise the Mekong to see the picturesque Vang Vieng that is surrounded by impressive limestone mountains. Also, take a small boat to explore the Vieng Xai Caves.

Vang Vieng in Laos
Cruise the Mekong to see the picturesque Vang Vieng that is surrounded by impressive limestone mountains.

Theravada Buddhism is the largest religion in Laos and there are a host of temples to explore.

Sitting in Vientiane, the most important Buddhist monument, Pha That Luang, is a golden stupa that enshrines a relic from the Buddhist. Luang Prabang houses many styling Buddhist temples, for example, the Wat Xieng Thong.

One of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Vat Phou, built between the 5th and 15th century under the rule of the Khmer Empire, is waiting for your exploration.

As the only inland country in Southeast Asia, Laos has no beach to offer for beach enthusiasts.

Vietnam Has More Diversified Scenery to Offer

Due to the long coastline, Vietnam is filled with diverse landscapes, from mountain ranges to golden beaches, pristine caves to busy Mekong Delta, tranquil villages to modern city prosperity.

Halong Bay in Vietnam
Halong Bay is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Vietnam.

To experience the country’s bustle, go to Mekong River Delta or Ho Chi Minh. Or visit the coastal resort cities of Da Nang and Nha Trang. The picturesque Halong Bay is a jewel in the crown of Vietnam’s natural beauty. Sapa offers deep, green valleys and terraced rice fields.

If you are a cultural lover, there are also places to go in Vietnam. In Hoi An, the traditional Vietnamese tube houses and French colonial buildings complement each other.

Hue is home to many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, like the Imperial Citadel, Forbidden Purple City, and beautiful tombs of Emperor Ming Mang.

Laos vs Vietnam Travel - Tourist Experience

Generally, as for the tourist experience, Vietnam is more touristy than Laos, and Laos proves to be more laid back.

Laos is More Laid Back than Vietnam

If you travel in Laos, do as the Laotians do, slow down your pace, even in the most touristy destination, Luang Prabang. The leisure pace of life in Laos makes it a great place to relax.

Laos Luang Prabang
The leisure pace of life in Laos makes it a great place to relax.

Take your time to trek in Nam Ha National Protected Area, experience kayaking in the jungle, or ride a bicycle to explore the countryside. You will be surprised to find a Southeast Asian country in slow motion, unspoiled by mass tourism.

Vietnam is More Touristy than Laos

Tourism in Vietnam has surged in the last decades. Many UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Halong Bay make the country widely known. And with so much to do and see, travelers flood to Vietnam, especially in the high season. So while traveling in Vietnam, you may find a mass of visitors.

Compared with Laos, the tourism infrastructure of Vietnam is more developed. Along the streets of major tourist destinations like Ho Chi Minh, Hoi An and Hui, a lot of cafes and restaurants can be easily found. In the coastal resort of Da Nang and Nha Trang, a large number of high-end hotels are available.

Vietnam Nha Trang
Vietnam proves to be more touristy than Laos.

Laos vs Vietnam Travel - Local Dishes

Every country has its local specialties and cuisine. Laos and Vietnam are not exceptional. Vietnam is said to be a paradise for foodies. And Laos food doesn't have the popularity and variety of the famous cuisines of its neighbor Vietnam.

Laos Food

The Laotians eat a simple and light diet. Local dishes are seasoned with spices, mainly tasting spicy, sour, and sweet.

Laos Food
The Laotians eat a simple and light diet.

In the cities of Vientiane and Luang Prabang, you can find street markets, local restaurants, and international bistros. The best cafes are also covered here.

Beer Lao is the pride of the Laos people. Of high quality and rational prices, Beer Lao is quite popular with foreign travelers.

For vegetarians and vegans, you'd better go to the traveler-oriented restaurants and cafes to get vegetarian dishes. Don’t forget to ask cooks for a vegetarian option.

Vietnam Food

Vietnam is one of the best countries in the world for eating. Cuisine in Vietnam has a variety and depth compared with the food in Laos.

From street stalls to local restaurants, and international fine dining, Vietnam cuisine is going to conquer your stomach.

Vietnam Food
Cuisine in Vietnam has a variety and depth compared with the food in Laos.

Restaurants in tourist areas offer both western and Vietnamese food. But the local food proves not that authentic. To find real Vietnamese dishes, go to local restaurants or stroll around street markets.

An abundance of delicious vegetarian and vegan restaurants are available in Vietnam. And cafes can be found everywhere.

Laos vs Vietnam Travel - Internal Traffic

Due to the fast-developed tourism, traffic jam is tending to be a large problem in Vietnam. While the transport in Laos in much slower.

Transport in Laos is Slower

Compared with the traffic in Vietnam, Laos internal transport is slower. And in recent years, road conditions of major cities have improved a lot. There are lane markings, road signs, and stoplights on a few roads. And traffic moves on the right. Avoid driving at night since the roads are poor with lighting.

Traffic is Hell in Vietnam

Traffic conditions are typically chaotic in the big cities of Vietnam. There are no street rules in Vietnam. People usually ignore traffic lights.

In Laos, people drive on the right. In Japan, people drive on the left. And in Vietnam, it doesn't matter. When you are crossing the road, pay much attention to your own safety!

You can cross with the locals to imitate their pace, timing, and attitude. Always be calm and confident like a local, and you might find scooters will be able to avoid you. As for trucks, buses and cars, you should avoid them.

Laos vs Vietnam Travel - Budget

How about the travel budget? Laos or Vietnam, which is cheaper?

On the base of many tourists’ expenses, traveling in Laos is cheaper than Vietnam, even though a Vietnam tour has proved to be incredibly cheap already.

Generally, a week in Laos costs about less than $200 dollars for one person, while a week in Vietnam may cost up to $300 dollars.

In Laos, there are so many cheap hostels and guest housed, so Laos accommodation is cheaper compared to Vietnam. Costs of bottled water for one day, local transportation, entrance tickets for tourist attractions, alcohol (if you ask for) for one day are cheaper in Laos.

Laos vs Vietnam Travel - Time to Visit

The best time to visit Laos or Vietnam largely depends on weather conditions. Normally, the dry season is better for traveling in both Laos and Vietnam. But there are some exceptions in Vietnam.

When to travel Laos?

The best time to visit Laos goes to the months between November and April when you are able to enjoy pleasant and predictable weather.

There are less rainfall, clear and blue sky, and not-that-hot temperature in the dry season. However, if nothing but the best is good enough for you, visit Laos between December and February.

When to travel Vietnam?

The best time for a Vietnam tour is also during winter and most of the spring. Due to the north-south orientation of the country, there are some exceptions.

Northern regions of Vietnam like Hanoi, Sapa and Halong Bay offer the best weather between February and May.

In central Vietnam, Da Nang’s climate is best from February to May, and Nha Trang offers the best weather condition from January to August.

For the southern regions such as Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta, just plan your tour during winter and the early spring.

Summary

Laos and Vietnam are neighbors both provide stunning natural landscapes and fabulous cultural heritage. There is no need to argue Laos or Vietnam, which is better. It would be a regret if you miss any one of the two during your exploration of Indochina.

For a combined trip to Laos and Vietnam, you should plan to go between December and February. To tour Vietnam northern regions and central coastline resorts, the period from February to May is great.

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