Things to do in Laos
Things to do in Laos
While there are plenty of things to do in Laos, from the laidback capital of Vientiane to the romantic Luang Prabang and the dazzling natural landscapes of the south, one of the main highlights is simply meeting its people, and taking a glimpse at the world through their eyes.
It’s hard to believe that this small, peaceful city by the Mekong river is the capital of Laos, let alone any country. It is full of delightfully crumbling French buildings, fragrant food stalls and ornate, graceful temples.
For things to do, visit the Ho Prakeo Temple with its Emerald Buddha and religious art, the temple of Wat Sisaket, golden That Luang Stupa and the Victory Monument. The central market is a hive of activity, as is the Talat Sao market, packed with brightly coloured, handwoven textiles. Take an excursion to a Lao textile studio, or simply copy the locals and wander the streets languidly in the city where time forgot.
Considered the best-preserved town in south-east Asia, the Unesco world heritage site of Luang Prabang is a former royal capital. Set among verdant mountains and cut through by the Mekong river, the town is Laos’ most popular destination and known for its serene ambience, where cars and buses are banned and brightly robed monks give colour to the lanes. Immerse yourself in the town’s spiritual atmosphere, and wake early to offer alms to the monks. Explore the ancient temple distract, and climb Phousi Hill to explore the temple on top of the hill while taking in stunning views – although it can get crowded, be sure to stay for the sunset. Visit the Royal Palace Museum and the atmospheric night markets, or take an outing to the Pak Ou caves full of Buddha statues, the three-tiered waterfall of Kuang Si, or the village of Ban Xangkhong, known for paper making and silk.
Known for its lush, untouched beauty, the south of Laos is home to some truly amazing sights, and is perfectly suited to be explored by boat. Thankfully, it is still very much off the beaten track for most visitors to Laos, and rewards those who take the time to explore the region.
Visit Pakse – sitting at the confluence of the Mekong and Don rivers, this small provincial town is the gateway to the Bolaven Plateau, Si Phan Don (the 4,000 islands) and the Vat Phou temples in Champasak. The Bolaven Plateau is positioned at an elevation of between 1,000 and 1,350 metres, and is home to tea and coffee plantations. Enjoy tastings of the local brew and meet a Laotian coffee farmer. The impressive Tad Fane waterfall has a drop of almost 120 metres, and you are able to visit villages of the many ethnic groups that live here while seeking respite from the humidity. Si Phan Don is one of the most picturesque areas of the Mekong; and the 4,000 islands are best explored by boat. Meanwhile, the Unesco world heritage site of the Vat Phou temples in Champasak features intricate temples carvings, nestled in among a beautiful mountainside scenery.