Laos is a landlocked and mountainous country in SE Asia that is often overlooked in favour of its neighbouring countries, such as Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, but it still has rich and pristine sceneries waiting to be seen. Whether it is the snaking Mekong River, the brooding jungle or the jagged limestone cliffs, Laos has a great laid-back lifestyle and plenty of amazing tourist attractions that are becoming easier to reach.
Let's take a look at a few of the cool things to do in Laos:
Similar to other countries in SE Asia, Laos has plenty of impressively built temples that are just waiting to be explored and admired. A visit to one of the many temple sites gives a perfect opportunity to appreciate the local architecture and also get a little peace and quiet at the same time. Visitors to the old quarter of Luang Prabang can see Wat Xieng Thong and see the monks pray. Also, a stay in Champasak in the south-west of the country on the Laos tours gives access to the fantastic Wat Phu and the surrounding mountain views. Make the trip to Champasak a full day out and travel along the Mekong River before climbing the hill to reach the temple.
Nong Khiaw/Ban Sop Houn
Nong Khiaw/Ban Sop Houn gives a top viewpoint in Asia and is accessible after completing a quite gruelling trek. But, on arrival at the summit you are met with breathtaking views of the local surroundings of the river and lush-green mountains. A great time to attempt the trek is at sunrise or sunset to really appreciate the views beneath the glowing orange sky.
Luang Prabang Night Market
The Luang Prabang night market is a great place to explore, look, buy and get lost. There are thousands of stalls in the market selling anything and everything which can range from the local Laos coffee to rice vodka or home-made scarves. Plus, there are plenty of food stalls and restaurants close to the market. The night market is open from 4PM any day of the week and a great place to pick up a bargain or gifts or souvenirs for family or friends at home.
In addition to the night market, Luang Prabang has a lively morning market that is also worth a visit while in the region. This market has plenty of friendly food vendors selling high-quality food which makes a great way be begin the day.
Laos has many caves that are worth exploring for the more active and adventurous times in the country. One of the best cave systems to explore in the country is Kong Lor Cave. The cave is located in the protected area of the Khammouane Khast NPA. This part of Laos has been kept completely unspoiled to truly enhance the beauty of the cave system. A fun and exciting way to explore the cave is on a boat trip that passes though the pitch black cave and is lit by the occasional flash light. Plus, there will be plenty of surprises in the caves such as snakes, bats and spiders.
Alms giving ceremony
For the more humbling and local experience on the Laos family tours, you want to rise early in the morning to see monks receive their offerings. This is easily seen by any visitors to Luang Prabang. The ceremony can be watched in silence or you can buy boxes of biscuits or rice to participate in the event. The ceremony will start on the main street close to Wat Xieng Thong. Tourists will get to see literally hundreds of monks as they walk down the street and receive a wide variety of offerings from the locals. Most of what the monks receive is their daily food. The entire alms giving ceremony can be very moving and is certain to be worth seeing if planning to stay in Luang Prabang for a few days.
With this being a religious ceremony, you want to dress appropriately for the occasion and make sure to only take pictures after first getting permission.
Swim in waterfalls
The waterfalls in Laos are not only breathtakingly beautiful but also a perfect place to get a reprieve from the humidity and heat. A trip to Tad Sae waterfall in Luang Prabang is a wonderful destination to swim in the turquoise pools and relax on the surrounding rocks. There are several waterfalls in the regions, so hiking beyond the first set of waterfalls makes it possible to experience the second set that is even more striking. A further place to visit is the Kwang Si Waterfalls in Luang Prabang and great to spend several hours to simply have fun and relax.
Enjoy the Gibbon experience
The Gibbon experience is a perfect opportunity to visit the vast jungle and zip line over the top of the dense forest floor below. Plus, it is possible to stay in a tree house for the night that is high up above the ground. For the travellers interested in seeing some of the local wildlife, a local Laos travel agency can organise a tour to see one of the many families of Gibbons. This is a very unique experience and certain to be different from the more typical tourist activities and gives the chance to watch the striking sunrise and sunset while in the jungle.
Hike up Mount Phousi
Mount Phousi is a 100 metre hill located in the centre of Luang Prabang with 298 steps that is well worth climbing for the stunning views at the top. This is a great place to take the camera with the picture-perfect landscape backdrop and Buddha's everywhere. It is worth organising the climb to the top of the hill to coincide with sunrise or sunset to really appreciate the pretty scenery. However, the walk during the day is likely to be the quietest, but won't give the most majestic views.