The 10 Best Places to Visit in Laos
What are the best places to visit in Laos?
Laos offers a pleasant change of pace for travelers accustomed to Thailand or Vietnam. This small country in Southeast Asia offers breathtaking landscapes.
In addition to its mountains, Laos is known for its dense forests, waterfalls and delicious local cuisine with Thai and Indian influences.
It is an ideal location for adventurous travelers. Some of the best places to visit in Laos can be difficult to get to, but it’s all part of the adventure of exploring a developing country.
If you are looking for a true South East Asian adventure, Laos lets you think outside the box. Even in the main cities like Vientiane or Luang Prabang, you will not be confronted with mass tourism.
Discover the Top 10 of the best places to visit in Laos.
Top 10 best places to visit in Laos
10. Nong Khiaw
Nong Khiaw, sometimes referred to as Nong Kiau, is a popular tourist destination in Luang Prabang province. Here you have many possibilities for hiking, climbing and cycling.
Nong Khiaw is a rustic village, so don’t expect truly luxurious accommodation. This part of the country is also surrounded by magnificent karst formations. Limestone caves, such as Pha Tok Caves, are a great place for those who enjoy caving.
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9. Huay Xai and the Bokeo Reserve
Huay Xai is located on the border between Laos and Thailand. This is the starting point to reach the Bokeo nature reserve. This reserve was created to protect the black cheeked gibbons, a species thought to be extinct.
The park allows you to stay in tree houses that give you a bird’s-eye view of the forest canopy.
Huay Xai is also known for its cruises on the Mekong. You can take a boat from Huang Xai to Luang Prabang and enjoy the beautiful scenery from the river. For many people, this is the highlight of a trip to Laos.
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8. Luang Namtha
The provincial capital of Luang Namtha is the largest city in northwestern Laos. It is a popular destination with hikers, and a crossing point for those traveling between China and Laos.
It is the perfect place to go trekking and visit the ethnic tribes living in the mountains. Check out our Top 10 best hiking accessories to be better prepared before going on a trek.
Renting an ATV or motorbike can also be a good way to get to the surrounding villages and waterfalls. In the city of Luang Namtha, you can visit the night markets, taste the local food and enjoy the herbal saunas.
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7. Tham Kong Lo
Tham Kong Lo, also known as Kong Lor Cave, is located in Phu Hin Bun National Park. This karst cave is over 6.5 km long and reaches up to 91 meters in height.
The best way to visit the cave is to take a boat ride. You can admire emerald-colored pools and exceptional geological formations.
Tham Kong Lo is considered one of the most spectacular caves in Southeast Asia.
6. Wat Phu
Wat Phu (or Vat Phou) is a ruined Khmer temple located at the foot of Mount Phu Kao, in Champasak province in Laos. It was part of the Khmer Empire, centered on Angkor in southwestern Cambodia.
Wat Phu is small compared to the monumental sites of Angkor. However the ruined pavilions, the enigmatic crocodiles and the large trees which surround the site give Wat Phu a unique mystical atmosphere.
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5. Si Phan Don – The 4000 Islands
Si Phan Don (which means 4000 islands) is a beautiful set of islands, located on a section of the Mekong River in southern Laos. It is arguably one of the best places to visit in Laos. Some islands are inhabited, like Don Det, Don Khon or Don Kong. You can find small rustic bungalows there and enjoy the tranquility of the Mekong River.
It is also possible to rent bicycles or kayaks to walk around and discover the magnificent landscapes offered by these islands.
With a bit of luck, you may even spot some Irrawaddy dolphins. A highly endangered species of freshwater dolphin.
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4. Phonsavan and the Plain of Jars
Phonsavan, a name meaning ‘hills of paradise’, is a good place to experience the American Wild West, but with a more Laotian feel. Raising cattle being one of the main activities in the city, it is not uncommon to see Hmong “cowboys” wearing typical cowboy hats.
Phonsavan is also a good place to visit the Plain of Jars. A unique archaeological site with its ancient megalithic structures that look like jars.
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3. Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng is a tourist town about a four hour drive from Vientiane. It is best known for its limestone karst hills and its many activities on the Nam Song River.
Kayaking, tubing, but also hiking and cave exploration are the main activities in Vang Vieng.
It is also possible to visit various ethnic villages around, including Hmong villages.
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Vientiane is the charming capital of Laos. Even though it’s technically a capital, it feels more like being in a small, rather quiet town. Due to the French colonial era, we find a charming old French quarter. There is also a Laotian version of the Arc de Triomphe.
The most popular tourist attraction remains Pha That Luang, a 35-meter-tall, fully gilded Buddhist stupa that is believed to contain a Buddha’s hair.
The rest of the city also offers its share of attractions, such as the many local markets and Buddhist temples.
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1. Luang Prabang
The most popular place to visit in Laos. Luang Prabang is a historic city, which was once the capital of the Kingdom of Laos. Located at the confluence of the Mekong and the Nam Khan, the city has many Buddhist temples and monasteries.
The town is also known for its wonderful little European-style cafes which are located along the picturesque banks of the river. Luang Prabang is so charming that it has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You will also find many trekking possibilities all around the city. You can get to the magnificent Kuang Si Falls, waterfalls and turquoise blue pools in a spectacular setting.
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