Top Attractions of Laos

Top Attractions of Laos

By Wendy Updated May. 14, 2021

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic, or Laos, is a landlocked nation located in the Indochinese Peninsula. Its breathtaking scenery, profound Buddhist culture, and slow pace of life attracts travelers who want some unique experiences.

If you are planning a trip to visit Southeast Asian countries, consider Laos as one of your destinations. Here, we have listed some of the best things to do in Laos. Please read on to get some more ideas for your Laos trip.

Patuxai Patuxai, the "Arc de Triomphe" of Laos

1.Visit Temples and Pagodas in Vientiane

Vientiane is the capital city of Laos. It is hard to consider the city as the capital of a nation because it isn’t busy and bustling like other capital cities. Excluding skyscrapers and crowded streets, the gorgeous Buddhist temples, pagodas, and quaint buildings make Vientiane a great place to discover the history of the country.

Wat Phra Kaew (meaning the Temple of the Emerald Buddha) is a splendid temple with characteristic pointed triangular roofs and well-decorated walls. It houses a collection of wooden, golden, and jade Buddha statues.

Pha That Luang (meaning the great pagodas built by the king) is a great sample of the country’s pagoda architecture. The main spire stands high and points into the sky, with 30 smaller pagodas surrounding it. All of the pagodas are plated with gold and shine under the sunshine.

Pha That LuangPha That Luang

2.Wander Around the Ancient City of Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is a beautiful city located in the northern mountainous region of Laos. The city is small so you can get to all of the major attractions on foot or by bike.

The best way to visit the city is to travel around at a lazy and slow pace. In the morning, visit the Royal Palace Museum, then walk for 30 minutes to Wat Xieng Thong, which is believed to be the most breathtakingly beautiful temple in the country.

Then, in the afternoon, hike up Mount Phu Si, from where you can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the city and see the sunset.

Royal Palace MuseumRoyal Palace Museum

If you have more days in Luang Prabang, don’t miss the Kuang Si Falls, which is about 30 kilometers south of the downtown area. The emerald water and beautiful surroundings make the best background for photos.

3.Watch the Almsgiving Ceremony

In Luang Prabang, if you can get up early enough in the morning, it’s possible to observe the almsgiving ceremony next to Temple Street, which is an excellent way to learn about the Buddhist culture in the country.

Every morning at about 5:30am, young monks take their containers, line up, and march through the street to ask for alms. Devoted local people will kneel by the road and offer simple food to the monks.

Almsgiving ceremonyAlmsgiving ceremony

You can take photos of the monks and believers but be careful not to disturb them during the ceremony. Dress properly and keep your shoulders and legs covered — show your respect for this solemn activity.

4.Have an Adventure in Vang Vieng or Take a Relaxing Tour There

Located between Vientiane and Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng is more of a town than a city. There are only two roads from east to west and one street from south to north.

Vang Vieng is famous for its pretty karst landscape. Jade-like rivers and lakes make the area a paradise for youngsters and backpackers. They climb up trees and jump down to the water, or lie on tires to cruise on the river with bottles of beer in their hands.

The Blue LagoonThe Blue Lagoon at Vang Vieng

If gamboling by the water is not for you, taking a relaxing tour in the countryside is also a great way to spend your time in Vang Vieng. You can hike on the hills, cycle on the country roads, and then have a rest in an open-air café.

5.Take a Yacht to Shuttle Around Four Thousand Islands

Four Thousand Islands, also known as Si Phan Don, is an archipelago located at the southernmost point of Laos on the Mekong River, bordering Cambodia. During the dry season, thousands of small islands and shoals emerge from the water, so local people call them Four Thousand Islands.

You can take a yacht to shuttle around the islands, feel the breeze, and touch the clear water. There are also three large islands where you can stay overnight.

6.Discover the Mysterious Plain of Jars

In Phonsavan, a city in northeast Laos, there is a mysterious site called the Plain of Jars.

Over 1,000 stone jars are located on the plain. The jars are said to have a history of over 2,500 years. Some smaller jars weigh about 1 ton and the largest ones can reach 5 tons. All of the jars are well-preserved but the usage is still unknown.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the United States Air Force attacked the region for over 9 years, leaving millions of live bombs that are still there today. As it is hard to do research on the plain under the threat of the bombs, the mystery of the jars remains unsolved.

7.Enjoy Splashing Water During Lao New Year

Laotians celebrate the birthday of Sakyamuni as their New Year celebration, which is also called the Songkran Festival. The festival lasts for 3 days from April 14th to 16th.

This period is also the hottest time of the year. All Laotians have 3 days off and gather at squares and streets to enjoy splashing water around. People believe this activity washes away bad luck and brings the best blessings.

You are also welcome to join in with the celebration and splash water on each other. The more water you get on you means the more blessings you receive. Be careful not to splash too much water on children and the elderly.

8.Admire the Natural Beauty of Luang Namtha

Luang Namtha is a small city in the northwest of Laos. Compared to other cities, Luang Namtha seems much less developed. This is also why the natural environment is well-preserved there.

If you are a nature lover, a good option is to trek in Nam Ha National Protected Area (also called Nam Ha National Biodiversity Conservation Area). Local travel services provide guides and one to 3-day itineraries to trek through the rainforest and to visit folk villages.

If a long trek is not for you, having a picnic by the river or wandering in the countryside are also wonderful experiences.

9.Try Local Cuisines

Red glutinous rice is the favorite staple food for Laotians. For the main course, the most popular dish is a meat salad called laab or laap, which is a dish that blends fried pork or fish with mint, parsley, and orange sauce. If you’d like an adventure, try the authentic version of the dish: with raw flesh and bitter bile!

Besides the characteristic salad, some other foods are also worth a try, such as fried chicken with mint, Mekong weed crackers, and a Lao hot pot. You can also enjoy a vegetarian buffet.

Lao cuisineLao cuisine

Laos abounds with fruits, so smoothies can be the top choice of drink for each of your meals in Laos. Also, try Beerlao.

10.Buy Souvenirs at the Night Market

After night falls in Luang Prabang, the night market there is a great place to enjoy some nightlife. The night market is also called “foreigners’ street” by local people as it is so popular among American and European travelers.

You can just walk around and buy some souvenirs or try some local street food and the well-known Beerlao. Some people also enjoy eating a Lao hot pot by the Mekong River.

Night market in LaosNight market in Laos

The night market in Vientiane is not as bustling as the one in Luang Prabang but you have more chances to find some interesting local items. You can see well-dressed sellers peddling all kinds of handicrafts and clothes. The tea leaves and coffee powder are the best things to buy.

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