Laos is a gorgeous country in Southeast Asia that is popular with visitors from around the world. This diverse and culturally rich place, which is traversed by the Mekong River, is known for mountainous terrain, French colonial architecture, hill tribe settlements and Buddhist monasteries.
A dynamite destination whether you’re looking for culture, nature, or simply a novel experience, Laos has something for everyone. If you are planning to explore and tour Laos, here are 10 best things to do in Laos while discovering this Southeast Asian treasure.
1. Luang Prabang
Considered by many to constitute the heart of Laotian culture, Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is located 700 metres above sea level in northern Laos. Boasting over 30 Buddhist shrines, this ancient town also contains traditional wooden houses, colonial architecture, and royal structures. At this destination, you will discover there are plenty of things to do in Laos. With a tourist friendly vibe, it is accessible to all visitors regardless of your budget.
2. That Luang
Located in Laos’s capital, Vientiane, That Luang is largely considered to be the most sacred monument in the entire country. Also called the Great Stupa, this impressive structure is considered a national symbol and features two temples. The golf leaf-covered main stupa stands 148 feet tall and dominates the surrounding area.
3. Vang Vieng
Travelling north of Vientiane, the striking Vang Vieng welcomes visitors who have come to appreciate its stunning landscape. The area features limestones cliffs, paddy fields, and is also where you’ll find the iconic tube float downstream experience. There is a also a gorgeous blue lagoon and limestone caves creating stunning rock formations.
For those looking to escape the crowds of young backpackers and experience a more authentic side of Laotian culture, Bokeo is well worth a visit. This area, rich in natural resources and surrounded by mountains, tropical forest and farmland, is home to a vast range of ethnic groups who have preserved their traditional culture and lifestyles. Bokeo translates as “gem mine” and you’ll quickly notice that panning for gold and digging for precious stones remain serious occupations here.
5. Buddha Park
If you are looking for religious things to do in Laos, this is a great destination. Featuring more than 200 religious statues, this famous park in Vientiane was built in 1958 by a monk who has studied both Buddhis and Hinduism. For this reason, and despite the name, you’ll find not only images of Buddha in the park, but also Hindu gods and demons. The showstopper is a 40-metre high reclining Buddha but you’ll be reminded of the parks multifaceted identity upon entry, where you’ll be greeted through a demon’s mouth and led up a stone ladder that offers panoramic views of the entire park.
6. Vat Phu
Speaking of stunning views, in Champasak you will find Vat Phu. This ancient temple is situation on a hillside and offers dramatic sweeping views of the surrounding area and the Mekong River. A must-visit for both of an artistic or historical inclination, the impressively intricate structures that make up this stunning complex were built between the 5th and 15th centuries. One of the most important archaeological sites in Laos, there is no shortage of things to see here.
7. Plain of Jars
The origins of these stone jars, which now lie in ruin, has been disputed over the centuries. Believed to have once contained everything from human remains to rice wine, the stone structures range from 3 to 10 feet high and can weigh up to 14 tons. Found throughout the Xieng Khouang plain in the Lao Highlands, archaeologists belive that there were first used somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 years ago.
8. Kong Lor Cave
How does a boat ride through total darkness to arrive in an emerald green pool sound to you? If you decide to take the excursion, you’ll be led only with the light of headlamps through limestone caves and unusual rock formations to one of South Asian’s most unique geological wonders. Located in Khammouane Province, this incredible site can be reached by following a rural road from Ban Khoun Kham or by taking a boat from Ban Naphouak.
9. Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre
If you’re an animal lover, you shouldn’t leave Laos without visiting the Tat Kuand Si Bear Rescue Centre located deep in the jungle. Here you will get to witness bears frolicking, swinging in hammocks, and enjoying a special retreat that was created just for them. The animals were all rescued from poachers and given the chance to live safely and freely thanks to this special project operated by Free the Bears, an international organization.
10. Kuang Si Waterfalls
In the jungle, not far from the Bear Rescue Centre, you’ll find the cascading tiers of the Kuang si Waterfalls. These vibrant blue waters draw visitors from around the world and are so stunningly beautiful that they’ve known to reduce those who visit them to tears of their own. You can enjoy the falls from many different vantage points or even dive in off wooden platforms that have been strategically placed throughout.