Laos with its rolling rice fields makes one of the most striking countries to visit in SE Asia. The beautiful villages are still largely authentic and not transformed by tourism and the Mekong Rivers criss-crosses through the cities. Jaw-dropping nature, gripping museums and historical sites are everywhere to be seen throughout the country.
Let's take a look at the places a tourist can expect to visit on a 10 day itinerary of Laos:
A great place to start the Laos tour packages is the northern city of Luang Prabang. From this ancient city that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, the tour itinerary can take in other popular destinations such as Vang Vieng, Vientiane and Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands).
One of the best ways to start the day in Luang Prabang is to rise early and watch the alms-giving ceremony, which sees hundreds of orange robed monks pass through the streets to accept offers mostly consisting of food that makes up the monk's daily diet.
The main thoroughfare in Luang Prabang will get very busy and hectic, so if you want to get involved in the offerings, it is best to find one of the side streets used by local residents and wait there to give a food parcel.
A visit to the local night market on the Laos holiday is a great way to pick up a few souvenirs such as Laos liquor and coffee. Also, a short trip from town gives access to several beautiful waterfalls, including Tat Kuang Si, which is great for swimming and exploring the local region.
Vang Vieng is the next city to visit on the tour itinerary. It is located about 5 hours south of Luang Prabang and has plenty of fun activities and beautiful landscapes.
This city is a popular destination with tourists and therefore has the ability to serve a varied range of food to match virtually all tastes. With a choice of Western, Thai and Laos cuisine, you shouldn't have too much trouble finding a food vendor or restaurant that will serve the perfect meal. Also, there are several eateries serving the vegetarian options.
One of the major highlights of this city is the picture-perfect landscapes and scenery. Vang Vieng is quite diverse and has everything from the jungles to rivers to caves. The Mekong River is nearby to explore on a half-day or full-day tour. A full day tour of Laos's beautiful countryside with zip lining, tubing through caves, and kayaking can cost about $25-$30.
A short distance from Vang Vieng is the Blue Lagoon, which is a great naturist haven to stop to cool off and relax. Entry to the park is subject to an entrance fee of about $1.25 and gives access to some of the bluest waters in the country. There are plenty of activities to enjoy such as the makeshift tree house and a rope swing.
Also, relatively close to the lagoon is the Phu Kham Cave system which is certain to appeal to the tourist in search of a trekking adventure, while also getting to see the many Buddha statues inside. Even though it is free to explore the cave system, there is a charge of about $1.50 to hire a headlight for a better view once inside.
After exploring the natural beauty of Vang Vieng the next step on the Laos customised tours is Vientiane which is reached in approx 4 hours. Vientiane is a quaint city that is rich in statues and temples, and a great place to explore on foot to really appreciate the local history, culture or architecture.
For travellers that wish to learn more about Laos’s tragic history and the many cluster bombs that have not yet gone off, it is worth visiting the COPE Visitor Centre. The visitor centre has a free entry policy, but donations are still appreciated. This small museum has plenty of displays related to the Vietnam War and the many bombs dropped at the time, and includes the problems they are being caused to the present day.
Also, there is a theatre in the museum that show a variety of documentaries that are very informative, eye-opening and tragically moving.
Other attractions in the city include Wat Xieng Khuang (or Buddha Park) which is easily reached by tuk-tuk or hire a motorcycle for the day at about $9.25. This trip is about 25 km from Vientiane and takes 35-40 minutes to complete. The entrance fee to Wat Xieng Khuang is $1.25 and gives access to a wide range of beautiful scattered shrines.
Four Thousand Islands
Four Thousand Islands is a perfect place to finish the Laos family tours. It is a charming, sleepy and laid-back little gem that is perfectly located at the foot of the country near the Cambodian border.
The best way to arrive at Four Thousand Islands is by taking a bus or flying into Pakse. On arrival there, you simply need to book a ride on a bus for the remaining part of the journey that will take approx 2 hours to reach the shore of the islands.
There are a few islands to stay on in the area. A stay on Don Khon is certain to appeal to the travellers that are less interested in the party scene and have plenty of bungalows located away from the main pier. However, for the younger generation in search of the party locations, a stay on Don Det is likely to be the favoured option.
The island of Don Khon is great to explore by bicycle to give the close up view of the local land. Many of the cycle paths will pass herds of cattle and rice fields. The daily cost of bicycle hire is about $1.25 per day, but they don't have gears, so climbing the steep hills will be quite a challenge. Also, the heat in this region of Laos can be quite brutal, so make sure to pack sunscreen, a hat, and lots of bottled water.
Other great attractions in the region include the beautiful Khone Phapheng Falls, as well as activities like tubing, kayaking, and Irrawaddy dolphin spotting.