Best places to see in Laos
Laos is one of the most diverse countries in the world, with amazing waters falls, tasty cuisine, thousands of historic temples, magnificent cave systems, exotic wildlife and vibrant festivals. This why I had to create this post on the best things to do in Laos! Despite Laos becoming more popular with both backpackers and holidaymakers there’s still of places where you can gain an authentic experience and absorb yourself with traditional Laos culture.
Whether you’re visiting Laos for a few days or get to use up your 30-day tourist visa, this post will give you an insight to this laid-back country.
This blog post for you will include:
When to visit Laos?
There’s never a wrong time to visit this tropical country, however, if you want to avoid the rain, the best time to visit Laos is between October and April, when the weather is warm and dry throughout. If you’re visiting during the rainy season, don’t worry, showers are often short and sharp, making little impact on your adventures and can often make epic photographs.
If you’re looking to travel along Laos’ main waterway, the Mekong River, visit between November and January when the water levels are at their highest.
How to get to Laos?
Due to an increase in tourism over the last few years, air connections in Laos have become more sophisticated and road transport systems have become more developed meaning there’s never been an easier time to visit Laos. As Laos is a landlocked country, if you’re already in South East Aisa, it’s cheap and easy to get to Laos on land transport, such as an overnight coach. If you’re travelling from Thailand and have some spare time, you can experience the scenic 2-day slow boat.
The easiest way to get to Laos from further afield is to fly into Vientiane or Luang Prabang airport and book ongoing transport.
On arrival, you will the tourist visa for Laos. Be prepared to pay approximately $35 USD and don’t forget two passport size photos of yourself. If you don’t have any passport size pictures you can always pay an additional $1 USD for them to scan your passport.
Best things to do in Laos
1. Kuang Si Falls
The Kuang Si Falls is the most visited waterfall in Laos and now I know why! Situated 29km from Luang Prabang, Kuang Si Falls is the perfect place to cool off and relax in the turquoise pools or become George of the Jungle and use the rope swings to make a splash. Make sure you arrive early to avoid the crowds and pack your swimsuit, sun cream and bug spray. There are plenty of transport options to get there, you can either pay for a tuk-tuk which takes around 45 minutes or rent a scooter for the day.
Location: Ban Long, 29km South of Luang Prabang
Price: 20,000 Kip
Opening times: Every day 8:00am-5:30pm
2. Mount Phousi
Mount Phousi is often described as the heart of Luang Prabang. If you want to see a 360 panoramic view of Luang Prabang and the tranquil valley it lies in, be prepared to climb the 300 steps, but don’t worry there are several resting spots along the way. At the summit sits Wat Chomsi, a golden Buddhist shrine dating back to 1804, which is now a significant spiritual symbol to the people of Laos.
There are two ways to climb Mount Phousi, take the steps opposite the Royal Palace Museum or take the steps via Nam Khan River. My only advice is to visit Mount Phousi during sunrise or sunset to capture the perfect insta shot!
Location: Sisavongvang road
Price: 20,000 Kip (pay halfway to the top)
Opening times: 5:30 to sunset
3. Pha That Luang
Pha That Luang is one of Laos’ most important and impressive religious monuments, which many people believe contains a breastbone of the Buddha brought to Laos by an Indian missionary. If you’re lucky enough to be in Laos during October and November make sure to take part in the That Luang 3 day festival celebrations to gain an insight into traditional Laos culture. It truly is one of the best things to do in Laos.
Location: That Luang village, 4 kilometres from Vientiane
Price: 5,000 Kip
Opening times: 8-12 & 1-4
4. Si Phan Don (4,000 Islands)
Being a landlocked country Laos may not have access to an ocean, but is home to an impressive network of rivers and islets making up Si Phan Don, which literally means four thousand islands in the Lao language.
There are three different islands you can stay on, Don Khong, Don Det and Don Khon. Make sure to visit South East Asia largest waterfall Khone Phapheng Falls, take a boat tour to spot some freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins, rent a bicycle and explore the islands or simply to back and relax with an ice-cold beer or fresh smoothie.
Check out this YouTube vide0, credit to the guys for filming
5. Vang Vieng
Sitting on the banks of the Song River, Vang Vieng is an adventure junkie’s paradise. Travellers can enjoy rock climbing, zip-lining, tubing, kayaking, mountain biking, ATV rides and much more. Not only are there adrenaline-fuelled activities to enjoy, but the scenery is picturesque with hundreds of caves, small villages and blue lagoons still undiscovered. If the weather permits travellers can also enjoy a spectacular hot air balloon over the beautiful countryside, which really is a once in a lifetime experience and one of the best things to do in Laos.
6. Gibbon Experience
Experience flying through the tropical Laos jungles, stay in some of the world’s tallest treehouses and spend the day surrounded by wild gibbons, no this isn’t a fantasy, this is any travellers dream come true! The Gibbon Experience offers overnight trekking tours to spot wild gibbons in their natural environment, as well as overnight waterfall trekking tours where you venture deeper into the Nam Kan National Park and swim in refreshing water holes. You can also zip line between mountains to the tallest tree in Laos today and feel like a real Gibbon!
Location: Nam Kan National Park
Price: From €160 depending on the tour chosen
Opening times: Some tours do not operate between May-September
7. COPE Visitor Centre
Created in 1996, COPE has worked closely with the government to aid the rehabilitation services provided to thousands of people with mobility-related disabilities, including UXO survivors who have received prosthetic and orthotic services free of charge, allowing them to regain mobility and dignity.
The COPE Visitors Centre is an interactive and informative exhibit referring to the horrors Laos people suffered during the Vietnamese war and the work COPE are doing to help the victims who lost limbs and continue to suffer to this day. It truly is a moving story, but highlights the importance of Laos’ history and is defiantly one of the best things to do in Laos.
Location: Khouvieng Road, Vientiane
Price: Free (donations appreciated)
Opening times: Monday- Sunday 09:00-18:00
8. Nong Khiaw
This is one of the most relaxed villages in all the places to see in Laos. If you’re looking for a few days chilling out, then put Nong Khiaw on your Laos itinerary. If you want to get here, the most popular route is to get the bus from Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw and this journey will take you between 4-5 hours.
There are some great walks around Nong Khiaw and this is why it’s a perfect destination for hikers. Also, if you’re looking to stay here for a few nights, you can pay under $5 for a bungalow!
You can also visit places such as Pha Daeng Peak Viewpoint (Nong Khiaw Viewpoint), Pha Kuang Cave Adventure and Nong Khiaw bridge.
You now have a full travel guide of the best things to do in Laos. This is an amazing country and one that I highly recommend for any Asia backpacking itinerary!
After you finish in Laos, you can get the slow boat from Laos to Thailand which is a cool adventure!