Laos is called “Simply Beautiful” as its official tourism slogan. These two words hint at the secluded splendor of Laos’ wilderness, but cannot fully capture it. The only way to understand the full depth of this country’s beauty is to take a tour to Laos yourself. Below are 8 reasons you will never want to leave Laos once you venture there.
In Luang Prabang, Laos’ historical capital, sunset is sometimes called the “Golden Hour.” Visitors travel from all around the globe to watch the dazzling display of colors as each day draws to a close. Climb Mount Phousi for majestic views at sunset, or enjoy a sundown picnic at Kaysone Phomvihane Monument.
If you want to experience an unforgettable sunset in southern Laos, we recommend taking a cruise on the Mekong River on a fishing boat and watching the colors melting from the sky and reflecting in the water.
Sunsets in Laos are not all that will steal your breath away; this country is also famous for its mesmerizing waterfalls.
On the Mekong River, you will find Chutes de Khone (Khone Falls). Measured in sheer volume, this is arguably the world’s largest waterfall.
Khone Falls is majestic, but there are some smaller waterfalls that you will find yourself equally enraptured with in Laos. Just outside of Luang Prabang, you can delight in the tranquility of the stepped cascades of Tad Sae. Humans are not the only visitors to these falls; sometimes you might even see elephants enjoying these beautiful waters.
The delicate beauty of Kuang Si falls surrounded by lush jungle foliage will be another highlight on your tour of Laos waterfalls. Be sure to wear a swimsuit so you can take a refreshing dip in the pool below.
Those who want to see a whole lot of waterfalls in a relatively small area can venture to Nong Khiaw. Hiking to see the 100 Waterfalls along this trail takes a couple of hours, and is best done with a guide.
These are just a few examples of Laos’ many stunning waterfalls; you will find plenty more throughout this gorgeous country.
A holiday to Laos is an excursion that will delight all of your senses, including your taste buds. While you are here, you will be able to enjoy cuisine with a flavor profile reminiscent of Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, yet distinct in its own way, characterized by fresh herbs, chilies, rice, noodles, vegetables and meats.
Dishes to try include Lao breakfasts like Khao Soi, Khao Ji Pate, and Lao Pho, as well as popular cuisine like sticky rice (Khao Niaw), green papaya salad (Tam Mak Hoong), wet noodles (Khao Piak Sen), minced meat salad (Larb), and others. You will also want to check out some of Laos’ fusion restaurants which offer a unique local take on other regional cuisines.
If you wake up early in Luang Prabang, you can experience Tak Bat, the morning alms ritual. You will want to head outside by 5:30-6:45 AM (it depends on the season), usually around daybreak, sometimes slightly earlier.
There are dozens of temples in Luang Prabang, each with numerous monks garbed in orange silently asking for alms. Generous residents give the monks sticky rice, while also not speaking.
As a guest in the city, it is best to watch the ceremony, rather than participate. Why? Tak Bat is a spiritual ceremony so for non-Buddhists, it doesn’t mean so much to participate in something you don’t actually believe in. Also, there are rice street vendors who sell expired rice to tourists to participate in Tak Bat, which is not safe for monks to eat, and ruins the formality of the ceremony. Remain quiet through the ritual, and do not use a flash if taking photographs.
Another appeal of visiting Laos is that you can do so even on a low budget. On average, the daily cost of visiting Laos is only about ₭315,300 ($17 USD). That means that your biggest expense will simply be your ticket to and from the country. You can spend weeks here without breaking the bank.
The people of Laos are every bit as wonderful as the places you will explore. In fact, The Laotian Times reports that in a survey of social media users on Facebook and Twitter, Laos was voted as the third friendliest country in the world. One of the users said, “Friendliness seems a way of life.” So, get to know the wonderful locals whose paths cross with yours as you explore Laos.
There are so many adventures waiting for you in Laos that it is hard to know where to begin—we could easily fill an entire book describing all of it. But if you only have time for a few adventures, what should you do?
If you are intrigued by the rich history of Laos, consider venturing to the ancient ruins of Wat Phu (also spelled “Vat Phou”). These ruins bring a whole new meaning to the word “ancient,” considering that some of them are estimated to date back to the second century BCE. Buildings on the site range from the 7th through 13th centuries. Mount Phou Khao offers a dramatic backdrop for this astonishing spiritual site.
Tourists seeking adventures in nature can try venturing underground to spelunk in Tham Kong Lo Cave, also called Kong Lor Cave. The emerald pool within is associated with the god Indra.
Perhaps you prefer to climb above Laos’ stunning landscape rather than plumbing the depths underground. Head to Vang Vieng, the country’s climbing capital. Scaling the limestone peaks will reward you with views you will never forget. This area also offers plenty of other opportunities for adventure, including kayaking, inner tubing, zip lines and more.
Speaking of zip lining, another cool experience is to visit Nam Kan National Park, where you can zip line between some of the highest tree houses in the world by taking part in the Gibbon Experience. As the name suggests, you will probably spot some gibbons!
One more adventure to add to your bucket list is MandaLao Elephant Conservation, located close to Luang Prabang. The conservation center rescues elephants who were used in logging camp labour, and ensures they live happy, healthy lives. Getting up close and personal with these gentle giants is truly magical.
From lush forests to high mountains to tranquil waters, Laos has it all. If you are climbing or doing other adventure sports in the Vang Vieng area, take a break to visit the gorgeous green rice fields where you can bask in a bucolic sense of peace.
Another spot where you can enjoy some quiet, serene moments is the west coast of the Don Det island, where you can watch the setting sun painting the sky and water with vibrant hues.
Thakhek Loop is a 280-mile loop designed for motorbikes. The entire loop is worth your time; make sure you plan a stop at Cool Pool in Ban Napavan where you can take a refreshing swim. But do not spend all of your time at this idyllic pool—you are going to want to pause at many spots on this loop to marvel at waterfalls, rice paddies and more.
Finally, another peaceful landscape that you will not want to miss when you visit Laos is the Mekong River. Whether you take a cruise on the river or you travel along its banks, many wondrous sights await you: the dramatic, rocky archipelago of Si Phan Don, the splendor of sunset on the water, and the twinkling of lights after nightfall from various villages, towns and cities.
Whether you are watching the morning alms ritual in Luang Prabang, taking a swim in a turquoise pool beneath a cascading waterfall, or exploring ancient ruins, a holiday to Laos is one that will imprint itself in your memory forever.
In fact, once you have visited Laos, there is a good chance you will find yourself planning a return trip as soon as you can. The friendly people of this beautiful land will always be eager to welcome you back. Should you need any support to set a plan to visit this country, we are here to assist.