10 Best Places to Visit in Laos

Martina Rosado
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Bokeo Nature Reserve

Bokeo Nature Reserve is a protected area in the Bolovens Plateau, Bokeo District, Champasak Province, Laos. This protected area, established in 1995, covers 251,000 ha. It has an area that stretches more than 400 kilometers (250 mi) of the Annamite Mountain range.

It is located between the confluence of Mekong and Xe Pian Creek and has an elevation ranging from 750 to 2,800 meters (2,460 to 9,190 ft). Another major river that flows through Bokeo Nature Reserve is the Nam Theun.

Its topography covers a flat limestone plateau which has been slowly eroded over the years. Over the years, limestone caves have formed in the area. These caves can only be accessed by boat during the dry season.

This reserve is famous for the unique drip-stone formations. These formations look like strange structures made from stones and are formed in the limestone cavities of the limestone rock.

During the wet season, the river and its tributaries are filled with water and small riverboats can be used to explore the area and the caves.

The first kilometer or two of the Mekong are also very good for seeing wildlife including water birds and purple heron. The river water is clear and it is possible to view the underwater world of the river as well as the fish that live in its waters.

Nong Kiau

Tham Kong Lo

Luang Namtha

Luang Namtha is the least-visited but most interesting province in Laos as it is located far away, at the northwest of the country. Travelers who reach here will be amazed by the beautiful scenery of this province, both in winter and in a rainy season. One of the most notable sites here is the Viengsay Village, a popular destination for the local people.

The Luang Namtha Province is also famous for its abundance of silk. The local people here have a unique method of producing silk yarn. First, they select the best-quality cocoons. Then they separate the silk from the cocoons, which is done with the use of a metal tool. The silk is then boiled.

This becomes a major attraction for the tourists who visit Luang Namtha. Therefore, the province is also known as the land of silkworms.

The silk in this province is more renowned for its ability to be dyed. The following places are worth visiting if you are looking for a colorful tour in Laos.

Wat Phu

Located in the central city of Vientiane, Wat Phu Khao Thong, also known as Huay Nam Thong, is the largest Buddhist temple in Vientiane. Built from a collection of ruins from various city's throughout the region, Thong construction was completed in 1832.

Although the temple is a popular tourist sight, it was previously one of the only temples to have survived the bombing of Vientiane in the 1970s. Wat Phu Khao Thong is also considered by officials to be the most historically important site in Vientiane.

As a result of its importance, treatment of the temple, and its monks, is extremely strict. No photography or sketching are allowed inside, so visitors are unable to capture the beauty of the temple's interior in a personal way.

Still, many tourists continue to make the effort to visit the temple out of an interest in the local culture and customs.

Si Phan Don

Si Phan Don National Park is located on the northern part of the country and it’s the largest national park of Lao PDR. It protects the remains of the ancient Khmer civilization. The park also covers parts of Vietnam.

The park is expansive about 750 km of which 50 km is done as a protected area. Aside from the remains of the ancient Khmer civilization, the park also houses the habitat of about 440 species of fish, 40 species of mammals, 400 bird species, and 80 known species of reptiles. It is home to also a tiger population that’s number has been estimated at 1800.

Phonsavan

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Vang Vieng

Laos.

Located in the northwest corner of Laos, not far from the border with Vietnam, Vang Vieng has somehow made it to all the list of top things to see in the country. It is a popular tourist destination known for its easy, low cost, swimming-in-a-lake-in-your-underwear-with-a-bottle-in-your-mouth-trip-scene. The attractions in the area have more or less made the Vang Vieng region a must-see destination or a side trip, for most travelers coming across the country.

There are other hilly areas of Laos and rivers that make for popular destinations, of course, but Vang Vieng has grown to be one of the most popular. It has been influential in attracting a lot of negative headlines, one of the most popular being the “I Survived Vang Vieng Boat Accident” story which has become quite well-known and notorious in the world of international media.

What’s in this post?

10 Important Reasons to Visit Vang Vieng

One Of The Most Sustainable Trips In The World

Vientiane

The capital of Laos, Vientiane is a short two-hour flight from Bangkok, Thailand. As an overwhelmingly popular destination for budget-conscious tourists, it can be an excellent jumping off point for the country's capital city, Luang Prabang.

Vientiane makes a great base to explore the beautiful highlands of Laos. In Laos, the highest point of elevation is 2,464 meters in Phou Bia National Park.

From Vientiane, a trip to Khone Phapheng Falls will be an ideal way to start your trip to the northwestern mountains (and a novel way to travel – check out this blog post I did about the waterfall rafting trip).

From there, it's a short drive to the highlight of the day, a trip to Phou Si, caves that date back several thousand years. There's no telling what to expect when you explore these mysterious limestone caves in the heart of Laos.

An overnight trip to the mountains near Vientiane is a great way to get out of the city for a night and break up the tours around Vientiane.

Take a train from Vientiane to Luang Prabang.

Train journeys through Laos are an amazing experience. The overnight journey to Luang Prabang is scenic.

Luang Prabang

What to do in the city: Begin your sightseeing with a visit to the golden stupa, a Buddhist temple with some of the best architecture in the region. Next, take a scenic cycle or motorboat tour of the Mekong River to see some of the amazing limestone karst formations. You can also sign up for a homestay, where you’ll get to meet the culture at close hand and experience all of the sights the real way.

Where to stay in the city: Hotel Le Dekong Lao is a colonial mansion perched above the Mekong as it flows out the mouth of the Khone Phapheng Falls, just 40km from the city. From here, you should take a motorboat trip upstream to visit the Khone Phapheng Waterfalls and the Tham Lot Cave.

Where to eat: If you want to appreciate the flavours of Lao food, head straight for the Floating Market. Here, the fishing boats are still docked and you can watch the market set up in the early morning, just as the boats are about to leave for the day.

Must try: Ekkaphob ª home-style sticky rice

Map of Laos

Laos is a small country in Southeast Asia. It is situated along the Mekong River, bordering Thailand, Burma, China, and Vietnam. The total population of Laos is around 6.3 million. The official languages are Lao and French, with over 100 ethnic groups with a mix of Lao, Khmer, and Thai cultural history. The national bird is the firefinch.

The economy is based on agriculture, forestry and light industry but is heavily dependent on foreign aid.

The tourism industry in Laos has come a long way in the past few years. Not only has there been a shift from backpacker tourism to a much more developed form of luxury tourism, but the development has been so successful that Laos is even considered a five-star destination.

As we go through the list of the best places to visit in Laos, I’ll also highlight some superlatives for each destination.