Laos is truly a landlocked gem with an undiscovered territory of a mountainous landscape flanked by two major rivers. Sure, it’s a small country compared to its bigger brothers in the Southeast Asian region, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. As a ‘back-in-time’ place full of friendly natives, mysterious heritage monuments, and hauntingly beautiful Buddhist temples, Laos is a must-see. When traveling through this country, you should expect a cultural rollercoaster ride.
French colonizers coined the name Laos in the 1700s, and even though it sounds like a city from a fantasy novel, it actually means “people” or “human being.” Through their festivals, cuisine, and traditions, the people of Laos maintain a strong feeling of national identity, despite the nation’s relatively slow economy. More than 49 ethnic groups’ rich cultures are on show in the country’s most scenic locations, which act as a visual display of the peoples’ long-standing traditions.
In today’s article, we’re going to take you on an adventure through the top 10 Laos attractions that will leave your mouth watering for more.
1. Luang Prabang
If you are on a tight budget but yet want to see some of Laos, this is the place to go.’ most popular tourist attraction, Luang Prabang, is an excellent option. Renting a bicycle is a great way for tourists to see the city. This may be seen by the fact that many eateries are housed in French colonial structures. Museums dedicated to Northern Laotian tribal traditions are also available. The Mekong River may be seen from a hill in the middle of Luang Prabang. Also very popular are the night markets, where you may dine on some delicious sticky rice under the stars.
2. Kuang Si Waterfall
There are many magnificent waterfalls in Laos, but one of the greatest places to see one is the Kuang Si waterfall, which is notable for its blue water and stunning surroundings, not to mention the swarms of butterflies that add to the beauty of the location. Located about 30 minutes drive from Luang Prabang town center, there are multiple levels in this waterfall where you can stop and enjoy the view before continuing your walk up to the top level. A beautiful area to swim, and locals claim that the fish also provide foot care! I also suggest arriving early to avoid the crowds and have the bars and pubs to yourself. Afterward, as soon as the sunlight begins to filter through the forest canopy, make your way to the highest point to take in the scenery.
3. Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng is a beautiful mountain town that attracts a large number of tourists from throughout the world. It is particularly popular with travelers who come to take in the rough beauty of the area. This modest and picturesque town, which is surrounded by magnificent mountains, rivers, caverns, limestone cliffs, and rice fields, has a plethora of interesting attractions to offer visitors. In Vang Vieng, the Nam Song River is where you may take part in the notorious ‘tubing’ rides, which are a very popular activity.
4. Vat Phou
At the foot of Phou Kao Mountain, there is a temple ruin known as Vat Phou (Lao for “Temple Mountain”). One can see the Mekong River as well as Champasak Province from its lush surroundings. Intricate Khmer temples erected between the 5th and 15th centuries have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Locals think that a nearby natural spring holds holy water. There are numerous Buddha and Hindu deity statues on show in the complex’s on-site museum. Archaeological site Vat Phou is one of the largest in Laos.
5. That Ing Hang Stupa
That Ing Hang Stupa is a sacred site not just for Laotian Buddhists but also for Thai Buddhists in northern Thailand. The 9-meter-tall 16th-century structure is thought to store one of Buddha’s bones. Make sure your shoulders, chest, and knees are covered if you plan on going to That Ing Hang Stupa. Before entering the temple grounds, women may be expected to wear a traditional sinh (Lao-style sarong). For anyone wishing to make offerings at That Ing Hang Stupa, there are booths selling lotus flowers and coconuts.
6. Wat Sisaket
The only temple in Laos that was not destroyed after the Siamese occupation of the city in 1828 is Wat Si Saket. More than 10,000 Buddha statues of diverse sizes and designs can be found at the museum. While the temple’s design is exquisite and has been around since 1818, it also has a long and rich history. The five-tiered elaborate roof, the drum tower, the modest library, and the flowery sim ceiling are all must-sees (ordination hall). A total of 7,000 works of art made of wood, stone, and metal adorn the walls of this impressive space.
7. Nong Khiaw
Nong Khiaw is a charming site in Laos that is quickly being renowned as one of the greatest places to visit in the country if you’re looking to disconnect. You may go trekking, hiking, or bicycling among the picturesque towns that surround the main town while you’re here. You can see Nong Khiaw’s natural splendor from a different vantage point if you take a boat ride down the Nam Ou River. The Pha Tok Caves and other limestone caverns in this region, as well as the beautiful karst formations that surround it, make it an ideal spot for spelunkers.
Given its position as the country’s capital, Vientiane is more urbanized and significantly busier than the rest of the country. Suitable for those looking to take a break from being close to nature and return to the hustling and hectic city life for a couple of days. The city boasts a good variety of restaurants that provide western cuisine, which makes it one of the great places to visit in Laos for foodies to spend time there. With the exception of the Patuxai (war monument) and the Buddha Park, there aren’t many sights to see.
9. Plain of Jars
Here’s a quick history lesson: the plain of jars is made up of relics from the Stone Age. The weight of these stone containers might reach approximately six tons. The locals are completely unaware of the origins of these constructions, and the area tends to have an eerie atmosphere after sunset because of this. The sight from this vantage point is breathtaking, and the road leading to this location is bordered by tribal communities and a plethora of other picturesque sights.
This peaceful town is close to 4000 islands. Although internet access is limited, nature is at its finest here. Tourists generally come here during the Champasak festival, but it’s really calm and pleasant the rest of the time. There are a few sites in this area that provide stunning views of the Mekong River. There are numerous lodging alternatives along the river that include river balconies.
Of course, there are many other wonderful attractions to see and explore when you visit Laos. In fact, the country is filled with beautiful temples, a host of natural wonders, adventures for the whole family, and plenty of friendly faces from residents who are excited to share their home with you. When planning a vacation or an adventure, Laos should definitely be on your bucket list!