Laos is one of the few truly exotic travel destinations left in Southeast Asia. The tranquil of this country is home to stunning scenery and incredibly laidback people, it provides a pleasant change of pace for travelers who are used to Vietnam or Cambodia.
Our list of the best 5 places to see in Laos below will help you unveil the charms of this beguiling country, which has long isolated from the rest of the world because of the two Indochina wars. Incense Travel’s consultant experts can help you weave these five incredible places in your itinerary to explore the charms of Indochina.
Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is the smallest capital in Southeast Asia. The deliciously relaxing atmosphere of this city makes you feel like visiting a small town, and it is only capital in Southeast Asia where you will be beguiled with glittering temples, wandering Buddhist monks, and boulevards lined full of tamarind and frangipani.
While you are in Vientiane, don’t miss out the Wat Si Saket – the oldest surviving Buddhist wat in the city, the Grand Sacred Stupa (That Luang) - generally regarded as the most important national monument in Laos and a national symbol, and the Buddha Park - a sculpture garden housing a collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures.
2. Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for the unique and remarkably well preserved architectural, religious and cultural heritage. The whole city is a blend of the rural and urban developments over several centuries, including the French colonial influences.
The city is most well-known for its numerous Buddhist temples and monasteries, where hundreds of monks are still walking through the streets to collect alms every morning. Start your day in Luang Prabang by following that Laotian tradition to give alms to the saffron monks walking toward you.
One of the major landmark in Luang Prabang is the Mount Phou Si, a large steep hill leading to Wat Chom Si shrine and an overlook of the city and the confluence of the Nam Khan and the Mekong River.
Stop by the Elephant Village, where you can feed or ride the elephants. Experience the traditional Laotian long boat along the river, take a turn by the Tad Sae Waterfall which is flowing over limestone formations and amongst trees.
3. Vang Vieng
Located on the Nam Song River, north of Vientiane, this small town of Vang Vieng is surrounded by striking limestone mountains and limestone caves.
Vang Vieng is an incredible active town in this tranquility of Laos, indeed it is a true paradise for outdoor lovers visiting Laos. This little town has so many to do, you can explore the jungle, zip lining, ATVing, hot air ballooning, river rafting, rock climbing.
If those adventure activities are not your thing, then Vang Vieng is home to many limestone caves, such as Tham Poukham, which is a cave with a blue-green lagoon and a reclining Buddha statue. Or the deep Tham Nam Cave, which has a spring at its entrance.
4. Plain of Jars
Locating in northeast of Laos, Plain of Jars is the most famous tourist attractions in the region. There are thousands of mysterious stone jars scattering across the rolling hills and greasy plains, appearing in clusters ranging from just a few to several hundred and weighing up to 6 tones.
According to a legend, a race of giants who inhabited the area. After winning an arduous battle with their enemy, the giants built the jars to store wine to celebrate their victory. Though an initial research in the 1930s suggested that the jars were used for prehistoric burial practices, and have been dated back as far as the Iron Age. There are human remains have been found in the area supporting the theory.
While the north is quite mountainous, southern Laos is flat and fertile with tropical palms and verdant landscapes. Doting the region full of small village with their own distinctive customs is Pakse, which is also the major town.
Pakse is the capital of Champasak Province, founded by French colonialists in 1905. The kingdom was destroyed in 1946 after which the Kingdom of Lao was created. There are numerous temples for you to explore, including the Big Buddha temple with great views over the town and river.
Located on the confluence of the Mekong and Don rivers, Pakse is also the largest market in Laos, most famous for its coffee. Lao coffee beans are sensational, and whether a casual drinker or an aficionado, you will appreciate just how good it is.