When you think about traveling to Southeast Asia, what’s the first place that pops into your head? Probably Thailand, Vietnam or Indonesia – and those are all fine places to visit, but they’re a bit overrated.
Laos is one of the most scenic countries in Southeast Asia, but it is not nearly as popular as the other countries. It’s a landlocked country located on the Indochinese peninsula between Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, and China.
Frankly, I think that this is one of the best tourist destinations in Asia so today I’ll be taking you through the 10 best places to visit in Laos.
- The 10 Places And Things To Do In Laos You Need to Know
- 1. Wat Phu – The Ancient Wonder of the Khmer Empire
- 2. Kong Lor Cave – Mystical Canoeing Adventure
- 3. The Plain of Jars – A Wondrous Archaeological Mystery
- 4. Van Vieng – Explore the Caves and Travel Down the River
- 5. Bokeo Nature Reserve – Search for Gibbons while Sleeping in Trees
- 6. Luang Prabang – The Home of the Buddhist Monks
- 7. Si Phan Don – Four Thousand Beautiful Islands
- 8. Luang Namtha – Spellbinding Waterfalls and Beautiful Hills
- 9. Nong Kiau – A Rustic Village Split in Two
- 10. Vientiane – Where French and Buddhist Architectures Meet
- Is Laos Safe for Travel?
The 10 Places And Things To Do In Laos You Need to Know
1. Wat Phu – The Ancient Wonder of the Khmer Empire
A beautiful temple complex located at the base of mount Phu Kao, this ancient Khmer temple is a beautiful sight to behold. It is in the Champasak Province, and it consists of numerous courtyards, pavilions, pillars, palaces, shrines and more.
The structures of this temple are anywhere from 700 to 900 years old and walking through them is like taking a trip back in time. It used to be an important location in the ancient Khmer empire, and you can feel it.
2. Kong Lor Cave – Mystical Canoeing Adventure
Also known by the name Tham Kong Lor, this is an impressive cave that you need to see located at the Phu Hin Bun National Park. The Phu Hin Bun river flows through the cave, and you can take a canoe ride through it.
It’s a total of 4 miles long, and the roof is 300 feet high at its highest point. You will find that the ride through the cave has a mystical feeling, especially when you come across the main attraction, a sacred, jade-colored pool of water connected with the Hindu god Indra.
3. The Plain of Jars – A Wondrous Archaeological Mystery
A curious site, the Plain of Jars is an archaeological wonder you won’t see anywhere else. Hundreds, if not thousands of stone jars are scattered in the plains around the city of Phonsavan. No one knows why these jars were made or exactly when, and hiking through the plains is a unique experience filled with mystery and wonder.
4. Van Vieng – Explore the Caves and Travel Down the River
This is the perfect location for backpacking, an old town nestled between limestone karst hill, the Nam Song River, and the thick jungle. One of the best ways to see it is by taking a boat trip down the river, but you can also hike through the hills, exploring the caves and camping nearby.
5. Bokeo Nature Reserve – Search for Gibbons while Sleeping in Trees
This amazing location is situated near the town of Huay Xai, and it houses a rare species of black-cheeked gibbons. The unique attraction here is the Gibbon Experience – you stay in beautiful tree houses, and you travel through the forest by zip line, watching the animals as you go.
6. Luang Prabang – The Home of the Buddhist Monks
The most popular tourist destination in Laos by far, this is a historical city, the former capital of the Kingdom of Laos. It is located at the confluence of two rivers – the Mekong and the Nam Khan rivers. There are many ancient Buddhist monasteries and temples in the area, and it’s not unusual to see Buddhist monks among the populace.
7. Si Phan Don – Four Thousand Beautiful Islands
The name means “4000 islands,” and it’s true. Even though this is a landlocked country, you can still go here if you wish to have some fun on a beach. These islands are located in the Mekong river, near the border with Cambodia. You can visit the larger islands for some fun or smaller islands if you like peace and quiet.
8. Luang Namtha – Spellbinding Waterfalls and Beautiful Hills
This is the largest city in the northwest of Laos, and it’s located near the border with China. Here you can easily get yourself lost in the hills, and they’re great for trekking and hiking. If you take the trip into the hills, you can also encounter some of the ethnic tribes that still live there. Otherwise, you can also visit some of the gorgeous waterfalls that litter the surrounding landscape.
9. Nong Kiau – A Rustic Village Split in Two
This is one of the most popular destinations in the province of Prabang, and you’ll probably find yourself spellbound once you visit it. Nong Kiau is an old village whose two parts are connected with a large bridge built by the Chinese. The mountains here are wonderful, and you’ll find plenty of opportunities for hiking and exploration through the numerous caves.
10. Vientiane – Where French and Buddhist Architectures Meet
Last, but not least, is the capital city of Laos, Vientiane. Here you can see a lot of different sites, including the “city of sandalwood,” a Buddhist stupa named Pha That Luang that’s almost 500 years old.
You can also see a lot of classical French architecture here, mixed with local culture, dating back to the colonial period – there’s even a structure reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe, named Patuxai. You can also pay a visit to one of the oldest temples in Laos, Wat Si Siket.
Is Laos Safe for Travel?
While Laos has had its fair share of turmoil in the past, these days it’s a remarkably safe place to travel in. It’s much safer than the neighboring countries, especially Thailand and Vietnam and you’re less likely to get scammed or robbed. Of course, you should always take some of the following precautions:
- Avoid going out when it’s dark
- Never hike alone and always carry your survival gear with you
- Always tell someone where you’re going
- Only travel through verified taxi and bus companies
- Only book your lodging through verified travel agencies
So, those are the best places to visit when you go to Laos – at least in my opinion. As you can see I favor nature and places where I can go on a hiking trip but you might be a bit different. Still, all of these spots are incredible and they’re something you can’t see anywhere else except in Laos. I hope I inspired you to check this magnificent country out, and I look forward to your photos from the vacation!