Laos to Thailand by Bus (from Luang Prabang to Chiang Rai overland)

Traveling by bus may not be the fastest way to go from Laos to Thailand, but it sure is one of the cheapest. So if your goal is to save money by going overland, you came to the right place: we’ve compiled the information you’ll need to do so.


Where to buy Bus tickets to Chiang Rai

In Luang Prabang vouchers for the Bus tickets can be bought in advance at the travel agencies located on Sisavagnon street. Prices will vary slightly from agency to agency, so is up to you to look for the best offer.

Bus ticket price: around €30,60
Timetable: 6:00 PM on Tuesdays and Fridays
Departure: Luang Prabang Bus Station
Trip duration: 17 hours


Laung Prabang (Second South) Bus Station

Bus from Laos to Thailand


Even though we bought tickets for a sleeping bus, we ended up traveling on a bus with reclining seats — probably due to the small number of people traveling that day. Nonetheless, everyone got a blanket, and the spacious seats were comfortable enough to sleep in. It was a surprisingly tolerable 17-hour trip.

On the day of departure, you must be at the Luang Prabang Bus Station counter by 5:30 PM to check-in, and exchange your voucher for the final bus ticket.
Tuk-tuks to the bus station cost around 15,000 Kip (€1.50) per person.

The Bus trip

At the start of the trip, all passengers got a complimentary water bottle, a small soy milk box, and snacks.

We had 2 bathroom breaks during the night, and 1 more early in the morning. On the latest, we stopped at a service station with food stalls and a large clean washroom.

This first leg of the trip took around 14 hours (from Luang Prabang to the Huay Xai border post).


Road in Laos


Crossing Huay Xai (Laos) – Chiang Khon (Thailand) border

Being Saturday morning, we had to pay a weekend fee of 10.000 Kips (€1.00) to get our passport exit stamp. The bus waited on the other side of the border.

From there, it takes 3 more hours to get to Chiang Rai.

Remember to check beforehand your entry requirements for Thailand: Visas and border crossings.


Arriving at Chiang Rai

We arrived at Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 2 at 11:00 A.M.
Here’s where all long-distance buses stop, unfortunately, it’s also the furthest bus station from the city center.

From here you can hop on a songthaew and head to town. Share the fare with other people from your bus as many will be going to Chiang Rai too.

We paid €0.50 each for a ride to the city center.


Going to the train station on a songthaew.


To keep saving money on transportation while visiting Chiang Rai, check the posts:

Taking the public bus to the White temple
Public bus to the bizarre Black House (Baan Dam) in Chiang Rai

Cover photo by Jim Holmes / AusAID

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

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Top Vang Vieng attractions

10 Vang Vieng attractions and activities

Unlike other Laotian cities with a non-existent nightlife, Vang Vieng stood out as one of Southeast Asia’s rowdiest party hotspots, attracting backpackers with cheap alcohol, drugs, and wild river bank parties. But by 2011, with the accidental deaths of 27 tourists that year alone, the Laos government was forced to intervene and put the brakes on the unregulated disorder.

Consequently, many bars were closed, tubing was banned, security tightened, and Vang Vieng almost disappeared from travel itineraries.

Nowadays and despite its reputation, Vang Vieng tries to slowly reorient itself from a party haven to an adventure destination. And on that note, we put together the 10 best activities to do while you’re in town:


1. Bicycle and motorbike rides

Cycling is the best and cheapest way to get to the spots we’re mentioning in this post. The terrain in Vang Vieng is almost flat, and the landscape makes the effort worthwhile.

Bicycle rental cost: €1.60


crossing a bridge in Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng landscape


If you don’t like pedaling, the second best option is to rent a motorcycle.
Motorbike rental: €7,93 (70,000 kip) for a full day or €4,53 (40,000 kip) for half day.

Tip: start early to avoid the crowds in the street.


2. Nam Song River banks

One of the big attractions in town is the Nam Song River still being explored for tourist activities—but in a more contained way.

These days, you can relax on the small wooden pergolas by the riverbank while listening to music, dipping your feet in the river and drinking a beer.

Nam Song Riverbank

Swimming Nam Song river


3. Blue Lagoon

It’s an obligatory must-do in Vang Vieng and just like the Kuang Si Waterfalls in Luang Prabang, its lush surroundings and the turquoise water makes it a super-popular swimming spot. There are swings, a slide, ropes and tree branches serving as diving boards. If you manage to pull off an acrobatic dive you might get a standing ovation from the people below.


Blue Lagoon


To reach the blue lagoon by yourself is best to use as there’s a lot of misinformation on the way there.

Entrance fee: €2,13 (20.000 kip)
Parking fee: €0,23 (2.000 kip) for your bicycle.


4. Cave visits

Tham Phu Kham Cave

Right next to the blue lagoon is the entrance to Tham Phu Kham cave. Walking the trail to the entrance is not that easy as the path is quite narrow and steep.


Tham Phu Kham Cave


The cave itself is huge with a lot to explore but go slow because it’s dark inside and the stones are slippery.


Inside Tham Pouk Ham cave

Tham Pouk Ham cave buddha


Tham Jang (or Tham Chang) Cave

Because Vang Vieng is surrounded by caves and because not all caves are the same, we’re going to mention Tham Jang. This cave was used as a hideout from Chinese bandits during the 19th century and unlike others, the chambers inside Tham Jang are paved and well-lit.

Also, there’s a small blue lagoon by the entrance where you can swim in.


5. A day tour in Vang Vieng

You’ll find plenty of opportunities to book an adventure tour as every hostel in town has a myriad of options to pick from:

• Tubing
• Kayaking
• Water cave visits
• Rock climbing
• Nature tours
• Hot air balloon rides

We bought a full day tour from our hostel for €11.30 (100,000 kip) that included: pick-up and drop-off at the hostel, a visit to Tham Sang Cave, water cave tubing, lunch (BBQ skewer, rice, bananas, and water), and kayaking along the Nam Song river. Cheap as chips!


Canoeing tour Vang Vieng


6. Floating through a water cave

Stuff all your things in a waterproof bag, grab a headlamp and jump on a tube! Now, drag yourself by a rope while floating into Tham Nam cave and explore!

Tham Nam was dark and narrow, but the experience felt more exciting than claustrophobic.


7. Tubing and Kayaking along the Nam Song River

After a 5 minute instruction in broken English, we were going down the river on a kayak passing by other people tubing and frustrated with the slow current.


Nam Song river kayaking


Halfway in, we stopped by one of the few river bank bars still open. We rested, chatted, and drank a beer. The bar had a basketball and volleyball courts where the whole group got to play.

Along the river were many abandoned wooden structures from past bars proving we’re not in Vang Vieng golden era anymore.


8. Hot air balloon ride

Vang Vieng has the perfect arguments that justify a hot air balloon ride: epic limestone cliffs, rivers, scenic farming villages and great prices. You can go up at sunrise or sunset, but remember to book your ride at least one day in advance.

The ride should cost between 65€ (650.000 kip) and 70€ (700.500 kip) from one of the tour agencies around Vang Vieng. Don’t book it online as prices may go up to €130 (1.300.930 kip) for the exact same ride!


Hot air ballon rive


9. Dinner with Friends

Who doesn’t like to have dinner with friends? Grab something to eat at one of the many backpacker bars along Vang Vieng main street and watch reruns of the TV Show Friends—it’s always on!


Friends-watching Zombies


10. Sakura Bar

Sakura bar is a staple in Vang Vieng nightlife and famous for its cringy slogan:”drink triple, see double, act single”. Here you’ll find loud music, plenty of cheap booze and free whiskey shots from 8:00 to 9:00 PM.

These days, things start to calm down around midnight.


Vang Vieng daily expenses (average for 1 person)

Accommodation: €3,41
Water bottle (1,5L): €0,27
Lunch: €2,57
Dinners: €3,51
Breakfast: €1,87
Bicycle rental: €1,62
Blue Lagoon: €1,08
Day tour: €11,33


If you have any questions or some info to share on Vang Vieng, leave it in the comments below.

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

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Transport to Vang Vieng

Transportation to Vang Vieng: options, costs, and timetables

Whether you’re in Vang Vieng or in Luang Prabang, any guesthouse, travel agency, or tour company will sell you bus tickets for a small commission. But prices vary from door to door, so you’ll have to look out for the best deal.

The most common transportation options to Vang Vieng are:
• Minivan
• Express Bus
• VIP Bus: a bus with 3 double-decker rows of beds, AC, and some snacks for the trip. Having said that, you can be downgraded to a minivan without previous notice if there are not enough people to fill a bus.


Vip bus in Luang Prabang Bus StationImage by Calflier001

• Sleeping Bus: a bus with AC and wider reclining seats, or bus with 3 double-decker rows of beds.

In this post, we’re going to be sharing all the info on minivans and express buses.


From Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng

On a Minivan

As we mentioned before, tickets are fairly easy to find everywhere around Luang Prabang. We bought our tickets from one of the travel agencies located in Sisavangvong street.

Cost: €11.90 (110.000 kips) can go up to €15.00 (150.000 kips) based on the commission charged by the travel agent.
Duration: 5 hours (one more if it rains).
Depart hours from Luang Prabang: 8:00 AM, 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 2:00 PM
Pros: Minivans are the fastest way to get to Vang Vieng. Hotel pick-ups are included in the tickets.
Cons: Tight and crowded.


Full minivan to Vang ViengImage by Nick Hubbard

One thing that made the 5-hour minivan trip tolerable was the beautiful mountainous landscape of Laos.


Vang Vieng Landscape
Minivan to Vang Vieng, Laos

We stopped once for a bathroom break, and twice by the military for what appeared to be a quick routine inspection. 
All drop-offs are on Vang Vieng main street or Peisan Road—where the backpacker hostels are.

On an Express Bus

Cost: €11.90 (110.000 kip) up to €16.00 (160.000 kip).
Duration: 6 to 7 hours, depending on the weather conditions.
Departure time from Luang Prabang Southern Bus Station: 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM. Sleeping buses depart at 10:00 PM.
Pros: A bit more leg space.
Cons: As express buses leave from Luang Prabang Southern Bus station, you’ll be forced to pay for a tuk-tuk ride to the bus station (an extra 10,000 kip / 20,000 kip).

Drop offs are on Vang Vieng main street (Peisan Road).


From Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang (or anywhere else)

To leave Vang Vieng buy the bus tickets at your hostel. In addition to having great deals there, your ticket will include transportation to the bus station.

We returned to Luang Prabang also on a minivan but this time around the tickets were a bit cheaper: €8.67 (80.000 kips).

Now that you know how much you should be paying for a bus trip, find the best deal and use the money saved to buy a Beerlao. 




Have a good trip and be safe!
Cover image by Basil Strahm.

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

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Kuang Si Falls Laos

Getting to the Kuang Si waterfalls in Luang Prabang

If you look through a Laos travel guide you’ll find the Kuang Si waterfalls coming up as “the top-rated”, “must-see”, “unmissable attraction in Luang Prabang”. Also, if you browse over some reviews on TripAdvisor, not one person seems disappointed by them.


Wooden bridge Kuang Si Falls

Kuang Si falls natural pools Luang Prabang


Simply put, these falls aren’t “just another waterfall”. Over the years a single large 60m cascade tumbling continuously from the jungle, carved several multi-tier pools of bright turquoise water, making the site look pretty much like the garden of Eden. The sunlight piercing through the green tropical vegetation, the wooden bridges, and even the little fishies nibbling at your feet once you get in the water feels like paradise—it’s like a Spa at the Olympus!  




Best time to visit the waterfalls

They can be visited all year round. There’s only a downside of doing it during the rainy season: the water will be cloudy and muddy instead of blue.


Kuang Si main waterfall

Swimming at Kuang Si Waterfalls


Transportation options to the Kuang Si Waterfalls

Tuk-tuk: you’ll find many tuk-tuks around town ready to get you there. By gathering a group of 3 to 4 people you can split the bill. Rides are about €22.50 for a round trip and for half a day.


Tuk tuk in Luang Prabang


Mini Bus: any travel agent on Sisavangvong Road have mini buses or minivans going to the Kuang Si Falls every day. The price are €3 per person with pick up at your hotel. Have in mind that the departure and return times are set from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM (which is a big downside).

Motorbike: can be rented for €11, use for guidance (Google Maps doesn’t work that well in Luang Prabang).

Bicycle: rentals start at €1 a day and most hotels in Luang Prabang provide this service.


You get what you pay for

As backpackers, our mind is always set to save as much money as we can, so we chose the bicycle—it’s only 30 km anyways, it’ll be fun, we thought. We can make a cycling excursion out of it!

So there we went: two tall guys pedaling on bikes not made for adult men and with no gears (but were the only ones available in our hotel that day).

On motorized vehicles, rides take 45 minutes.
We took 4 hours.


Kuang Si Park

Entrance fee: €2.13 (20000 kips)
Opening hours: every day from 8:00 AM to 17:30 PM.

Next to the main entrance are restaurants, fruit stalls, bathrooms and small wooden huts to change clothes. As you might expect, the park is very popular among locals and tourists.

The Bear Sanctuary

At the beginning of the park is an animal sanctuary housing 25 Asiatic Black Bears rescued from the hands of poachers and traffickers. Lamentably to this day, bears keep being illegally sold to Vietnam and China for their bile—a valuable component in traditional medicine.


Kuang Si Park Free the Bears Park


The sanctuary is run by an Australian non-profit in collaboration with the Lao authorities. Find out more about Free the Bears Fund here:
The bears are adorable.


Kuang Si Falls - Laos


Climbing to the top of the fall

On the right side of the larger waterfall is a muddy and unkempt trail running through the middle of the forest all the way to the top of the fall. Up there everything is quieter and the dense vegetation covers the light, but the view is spectacular!


Top of main Kuang Si fall

Top kuang si Waterfall


Kuang Si secret pool

Somewhere in the middle of the climb is a path to a secluded natural pool. To learn how to reach it, you can watch this video on Youtube:


Kuang Si Falls Laos

Water and rocks Kuang Si


Returning to Luang Prabang

The end of the day came without us noticing. When we got on the bicycles and saw that the sun was almost gone, it hit us: HOLY. F*CK. We still have a 4-hour bike ride to Luang Prabang!

In less than an hour we were pedaling on pitch black—no streetlights whatsoever and completely alone. At one point to actually see the road, we turned the phone’s flashlights on, but the light attracted an assortment of flying bugs (beetles, grasshoppers, moths, and mosquitoes) that kept flying into our face, eyes, and mouth.

Nuno’s bike chain kept coming off forcing us to stop every 10 minutes to fix it, and every time we stopped we heard rustling coming from the bushes at the side of the road. As far as I’m concerned it could be a rat, but it could also be a fled bear from the park or a chupacabra thirsty for blood, and we were freaking out!




After god knows how many hours we arrived in Luang Prabang starving, exhausted and with a newfound love for tuk-tuks.


Are you planning on visiting the Kuang Si Falls? Will you do it by bicycle?
Have you been there already? Let us know in the comments below.

Cover photo by Shankar S.

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

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Temple visit in Luang Prabang

The first-timers guide to Luang Prabang, Laos

The small town of Luang Prabang situated in northern Laos was recommended to us by a traveler and friend from Aveiro, who described the place as ‘magical’.

On our first day after a night of torrential rain, we woke up with the mission to find a proper bakery to eat breakfast in. As an old French colony, Luang Prabang was set to have at least a good baguette somewhere.


A street in Luang Prabang

Much to our surprise, as we stomp along the red brick sidewalks, we noticed that there were no noisy motorbikes passing by and no other tourist in sight. All we could hear were birds chirping from the lush gardens and a handful of locals on bicycles going about their day. As our harried walk became a wandering stroll, we caught ourselves whispering to each other as if even the sound of our voice could disturb that morning tranquility.

After a month of being hyperstimulated in Vietnam, this slow pace of life felt like a cultural shock!


petting a temple cat


Luang Prabang weather

The dry season is from October to April and the wet season from May to late September. The coldest months are December and January (17ºC).

The air is humid and hot with temperatures reaching the 35ºC during the warmest months. Rain often falls during the night and early mornings resulting in sunny afternoons.

Check the weather forecast here: Accuweather/luang-prabang 


Moving around town

Luang Prabang is fairly small so walking and cycling are the best options as they’re both silent, non-invasive and cheap. Plus, almost every hotel has bicycles to rent.


What to do in Luang Prabang

Walking through the Old Quarter

Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so if there’s a place you’d enjoy getting lost, this is it. There’s beauty anywhere you look: whether it’s the gold trims from a temple reflecting the sunlight, a well-tended little alley, or a group of friendly monks—it’ll be common to bump into monks.


Monk walking


The Alms giving ceremony

Every morning as the sun rises, hundreds of monks from the 33 temples in Luang Prabang walk through the streets gathering food for their daily meal. Locals offer them rice, fresh fruit, and snacks while kneeling quietly roadside.


Alms Giving Luang Prabang


This ancient ceremony goes through various parts of the city, but a popular spot is the intersection of Soukkaseum and Sakkaline streets.

What not to do at the Alms Giving ceremony:

Be respectful and for the love of Buddha, do not disrupt the ceremony just because you want a cool Instagram photo!

Understand that the Alms giving is a Buddhist tradition dating back to the 14th century and a revered ritual for Laotians that tourism has started to corrupt. On account of becoming a famed tourist attraction, the procession is declining into a tourist trap.


Laotian woman at the Alms Giving

We believe that even having the chance to participate in it, travelers should avoid the tours and remain at a suitable distance. For more on the subject of responsible traveling read the post: Travel Etiquette—Good tourists vs Bad tourists.


Yoga Class in Utopia

The zen and peaceful atmosphere of the town will put sun salutations on your to-do list. Luckily, yoga and meditation classes are easy to find around Luang Prabang: Utopia has 1-hour yoga classes that take place on a little terrace overlooking the Nam Khan River.

Classes start at 7:30 AM from Monday to Friday, cost €4, and are suited for both yogis and first-timers.
For more information visit:


Utopia Yoga class

(Nuno being the teacher’s pet)


Royal Palace Museum (Haw Kham)

The 20th-century building where the royal family lived is now a national museum housing many historical items such as art, the king’s collection of cars, and offerings to the Laos monarchy.


Royal Palace Luang Prabang

The museum opening hours are 8:00 AM to 11:30 AM and 1:30 PM to 4:00 PM.
Closed on Tuesdays.

Admission fee is €3,07

Kuang Si Falls

Getting there was an adventure on its own and we wrote an entire blog post about it: Getting to the Kuang Si Waterfalls.


Watching the sunset from Mount Phu Si

Since every sunset we’d seen in Luang Prabang was breathtaking, we were curious about why the ones from Mount Phu Si (according to the entire internet) stood out as the best. So we paid €2,13 to access the top of the hill and after 20 minutes of panting and sweating up the stairs, we met with 80 other tourists waiting for it.


Sunset watching on Mount Phu Si


We realized that up there on the summit, is not all about the sun going down, but the privilege of enjoying a 360º view of the landscape as it happens.


View from Mount Phu Si

Mount Phu Si sunset


Tips: Go at least a couple of hours before the sunsets to visit the temples along the way, and reserve a nice spot at the top—it tends to get crowded up there.
If it’s a cloudy day, don’t even bother climbing those stairs.


A stroll through the Evening Market

Every evening from around 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM-ish, the entire Sisavangvong street is closed off to vehicles and occupied by vendors aiming to sell their handmade products to tourists. If you’re looking for a souvenir, you’ll find an extensive collection of handicrafts such as textiles, paintings, bags, jewelry, and paper lanterns.


Night market

Night Market in Luang Prabang


Visiting the Morning Market

For more of an authentic Laotian experience, head towards Wat Phonxay or the Royal Palace. Next to it, along a couple of side-streets, will be the morning market. It’s mostly a food market where vendors set up on the ground stacks of fresh fruit, dried squid, spices, ant eggs, frog legs, and fish from the Mekong.

Tip: the earlier you go, the better.


Dry squid on Luang Prabang morning market

Morning market in Luang Prabang


Unlike many other Asian street markets, vendors won’t call you out to buy their wares so you’re set to have a more enjoyable and less awkward experience.


Crossing the Bamboo Bridge

There are two bamboo bridges over the Nam Khan River that you can cross for €0,54. These bridges are built in 10 days every year during the dry season and torn down during the rainy season.

Explore the other side of the river and find your private spot to watch the sunset. They can be as epic as the ones from Mount Phu Si.


Bamboo bridge Nam Khan Rier

Temple Visit

There’s a humble and endearing quality about the temples in Luang Prabang. They’re not as grand as the ones you might see in Thailand, but they feel alive and just as special. Like we mentioned before, there are 33 active temples in LP and most are free to enter. We recommend:

– That Chomsi on the top of Mount Phu Si.

– Wat Ho Pha Bang near the Royal Palace where you can see the Pha Bang sculpture that gave the town its name.


Wat Pha Bang


– Wat Xieng Thong, one of the most visited temples in Luang Prabang. Entrance fee: €2,13

Wat Xieng Thong Luang Prabang


– Wat Wisunarat, one of the oldest temples around with a huge collection of Buddha images inside. Entrance fee €2,13


Mario Nuno Wat Visounnarath


Tip: leave the visit for later if the temple is being used for meditation or other religious activities. Use common sense and dress appropriately for Wat visits.


Pak Ou Caves

The Pak Ou caves have been a Buddhist holy site for more than 300 years. The shrines are inside a limestone cliff, located about 25 km outside of Luang Prabang. Inside the caves are more than 4000 Buddha statues, but you’ll need a flashlight to see them all.


Buddha statues

It’s only possible to reach the site by boat on a rather long ride (1h30) considering the short distance. However, the slow pace of the trip is perfect for laying back and enjoying the view.

Boat ride fee: €7
Pak Ou Caves entrance fee: €2

Boat Mekong


Where to eat in Luang Prabang (budget friendly food)

Lao Sandwiches and Fruit Shakes

In the central town square are about 10 stalls selling Lao sandwiches with different filling options including vegetarian. You can’t leave Luang Prabang without eating one along with a fruit shake. We ate one a day during our 13-day stay.

Tip: as the food is not refrigerated and the average temperature is 29ºC, avoid the mayo. 😉


Lao Sandwich

Lao sandwich stands


Buffet Street

If you’re into all you can eat buffets, this is your street. Located between the tourist information center and Indigo House Cafe is an alley filled with food stalls and a communal style sitting area. Fill your plate with all the food you want for €1,70 excluding meat, and enjoy! (meat is an extra €1,70)

Tip: the earlier you arrive, the more options you’ll have.

Laotian Fruit

For dessert have some tropical sliced fruit from one of the vendors at the start of the buffet street. To this day, it’s still the sweetest and juiciest fruit we’ve ever had.


Hot Pot

It’s the most fun meal to share with friends on an outdoor restaurant like BroTher House. For €2.70 a person, you’ll get sprouts, eggs, meat, tofu, noodles, mushrooms, and greens for everyone to cook on a bbq hot pot.


Hot Pot Laos


Breakfast at Joma

There are two Joma Bakeries in LP: one sucks, the other is great.
The great one is located right by the Nham Kam River, on Kingkitsirath Road behind Wat Sene. It has comfy indoor and outdoor spaces, the staff is friendly, the coffee is excellent and the air conditioning is always blasting. The only downside is the touristy prices, but they have special deals on bread and cakes from the day before.

Oh, and it had the fastest wifi connection we managed to find in Luang Prabang!


Luang Prabang average daily expenses (for 1 person)

Accommodation: €4,47
Water bottle: €0,28
Breakfast: €1,5
Lunch: €1,82
Dinner: €2,62
Bicycle rental: €1
Yoga class: €4,26
Bus from Dien Bien Phu (Vietnam) to Luang Prabang: €20,15


If you have any questions or some extra info to share, please leave it in the comments below. Thanks!
(Cover image by Xiquinho Silva)

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

Read more