Budget (2014): If you stay in hostel dorms and stick mostly to street food, $20 per day should be plenty.
I fell in love with this place. Located in Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands), this is about the chillest place on Earth. The vibe is so relaxed and welcoming, with plenty of activities to do. The whole island can be walked around in two hours, and is full of chickens, cows, and water buffalo. As of now, the island has no ATM, and internet service is spotty. However, it's such an amazing city: one I could easily stay in for months at a time.
If you hate Luang Prabang, there's really no hope for you. This charming city used to be the capital of Laos, and I can see why. It is wonderfully inviting and full of sites. I loved the night market, where there are all you can eat buffets for just 15,000 Kip (about $2). "Lovely" is the perfect word to describe the city, and I mean that with zero cynicism or distaste.
Ok, so I only spent one afternoon here while traveling between Don Det and Vientiane. My impression was that it was just a boring city, which I'm glad I had decided to skip. Fine, but why waste your time, when Laos has so many amazing cities to visit?
A really fun city, mostly known for crazy partying and tubing. While it may have a bit of a bad reputation, there is really a lot to do here. Bike rides are especially fun and bumpy. Some of the mountain views are stunning, and the town has a really nice vibe.
While not a particularly exciting place, Vientiane is a relaxing, fairly quiet capital city. A nice respite from the hectic capitals of the neighboring countries.