The best things to do in Laos combine stunning mountainous landscapes with ancient cultural attractions. It's fair to say that this landlocked country is one of the few truly exotic travel destinations left in the world. Laos has a 'back-in-time' feel to it, along with friendly locals, atmospheric Buddhist temples and enigmatic heritage sites. You should expect a rollercoaster of a cultural ride when exploring this country.
18-day Impression on Laos tour is the one of our Laos Must-see tour collection. The journey throughout Laos from the North to the South, from border to border, from river to river, from mountain to...More
Being one of the most laid-back country, there are plenty of spots in Laos remain as the mystery to the world. Within this 7-day Laos Nature & Culture, we will visit some of them including the...More
This 10-day Laos on a Glance tour is the one of our must-see tour collection. The highlights include the laidback capital city of Vientiane, the exciting Vang Vieng, the ancient town of Luang Praba...More
Being one of the most laid-back country, there are plenty of spots in Laos remain as the mystery to the world. Within this 9-day Laos package tour, we will visit some of them including the laid-bac...More
Luang Prabang and Vientiane are the must-see cities of Laos, which are included in this 5-day Classic Laos Tour. The highlights range from the charming town of Luang Prabang, and Vientiane to the m...More
Discover a land that is inherently spiritual and deeply traditional. Visit Southeast Asia’s religious centres, from Chiang Mai to Yangon, Luang Prabang to Siem Reap. Participate in time-honou...More
Let's start your day city tour in Luang Prabang with a visit to the Royal Palace Museum, which hosts a range of interesting artifacts. From there, you walk to the...
Sai Bat (Morning Alms) is a longstanding tradition in Laos Buddhist culture. In observing it, the devoted offer food to monks throughout the Luang Prabang every mornin...
An icon just outside the city, Kuang Si Waterfalls are stunning and SO worth seeing it in person (the water really is that blue!). If you are fairly confident and comf...
You can embark on a leisure cruise upstream on the Mekong River, which also gives you a breathtaking view of the tranquil countryside, before reaching the mysterious P...
Also just on the outskirts of Pakse, Wat Phu is an impressive Khmer temple that reminds me of a miniature version of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, though it was actually bui...
The Bolaven Plateau is known for its cooler temperature being located high above the Mekong Valley and famous for its sprawling coffee plantations and many waterfalls....
Hidden among green-carpeted karsts and pockets of jungle, ruggedly beautiful Vang Vieng is no longer the party town that gave it its bad reputation, but a lot of fun c...
Formerly a French colony, charming Vientiane is South-East Asia’s answer to Paris. Visit Wat Sisaket, the oldest temple with thousands of miniature Buddha statue...
Head south to Si Phan Don, explore the local peaceful villages of Ban Khone, where you will see an array of relics from the French colonial era and retrace the old col...
No trip to Vientiane is complete without checking out the sculptures in Buddha Park. Also called Xieng Kuan, this family-friendly park on the banks of the Mekong is 15...
The Elephant Village Sanctuary in Luang Prabang is an educational facility dedicated to the rehabilitation and protection of Asian elephants in Laos. The facility also...
Tucked within the Phou Hin Boun National Protected Area in central Laos are the Kong Lor Caves. It is a river cave system that stretches for more than 7.4 kilometers,...
The organic farm of The Living Land Company not only grows food in Luang Prabang but provides an opportunity for tourists to work on the land like the natives. Located...
The Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden is a stunning display of plants and flowers that are native to Laos. This facility has a greater mission to educate visitors on the rel...
Plain of Jars’ thousands of mysterious megalithic jars are scattered throughout Xiang Khuang Province in northeastern Laos. Dating from the iron age, the oldest...
The Mekong River, which spans the length of the country from its northern jungles to the volcanic coffee-growing plains around Pakse, has been Laos’ lifeline for...
Every traveler should try one of Laos’ simplest but tastiest foods, khao piak sen. This savory tapioca noodle soup served in chicken broth is sold at every resta...
Laos’ namesake beer is as popular and widespread as water. In fact, sometimes it is easier to find than bottled water as you really can find it anywhere …...
Laos’ main cities are filled with a plethora of international dining choices and fine cuisine, but to truly enjoy the zesty flavors of Lao cooking, it’s be...
Have you ever been to Pakse if you haven’t taken the time to climb the staircase to the top of Wat Phou Salao? Doubtful. A moderate half-hour climb brings...
Baci Ceremony (also spelt Basi) is specific ceremony in Laos which has been practiced for hundreds of years. The term commonly used is “Sou Khuan” which me...
The Kamu Lodge is a beautiful eco-lodge in a remote location on the banks of the majestic Mekong River in northern Laos. Access to the lodge is by a private boat - a t...
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Though opened to tourism since the last 20 years, Laos still has many hidden places or gems that are waiting for the curious explorers.
Xe Champhone Loop is one of the places.
Early September 2022, we made an Educ tour here, under the operation of Tetraktys Organization to explore the loop, which was an effort to promote the area to the international tourists.
We were impressed with what we saw and learnt here. The area is full of interesting nature spots, traditional culture, and hospitable hosts.
Below is everything you need to know about the area.
The romance of train travel is alive and well in Laos. The recently-completed high-speed railway that stretches from Vientiane, through Laos, and into southern China is operating ‘full steam’ ahead.
Luang Prabang will celebrate the boat racing festival (Boun Souang Heua) in Namkhan River during Buddhist Lent Period, on August 26th, 2022.
A notice issued by Luang Prabang provincial office says that Luang Prabang will arrange Boun Hor Khaopadapdin, an annual festival held to feed spirits with home-made parcels of food, and the boat racing activities along Namkhan River.
The province intends to promote the traditional festival and practices in hopes of attracting more domestic and foreign tourists, generating revenue for locals.
Traditional racing boats are made of a single tree and can accommodate up to fifty rowers.
The boats are considered sacred, are cleaned, and are given offerings which are believed to bring victory to the team.
In the downtown heart of Luang Prabang, there will also be gatherings and markets.
The festival will be held on August 26th, 2022, the same day with Boun Khao Padapdine.
Covid-19 put a stop to traditional customs and festivals for almost three years, but now that the measurements have been relaxed, tourist destinations in Laos expect to recommence festivities and offer hope for travelers.
How long to spend in Laos may seem like a ridiculous question to address, but if you have plenty of time and aren’t sure how much to dedicate, this blog will definitely help you out.
How long can you stay in Laos?
Well, as long as you like! From 7 days to a month, there are various ways you can travel across Laos and uncover its secrets. Advising an ideal trip length for Laos is a bit of a complex challenge, as it depends on several factors such as the places you wish to visit, the activities you plan to join, or if you want to combine Laos with its neighbor countries.
Stay tuned! We are going to sort all these things out including the step-by-step guide to create the best itinerary in Laos.
The Rocket Festival (Boun Bang Fai) is a merit-making ceremony traditionally practiced by ethnic Lao people near the beginning of the wet season in numerous villages and municipalities, in the regions of Northeastern Thailand and Laos. Celebrations typically include preliminary music and dance performances, competitive processions of floats, dancers and musicians on the second day, and culminating on the third day in competitive firings of home-made rockets. Local participants and sponsors use the occasion to enhance their social prestige, as is customary in traditional Buddhist folk festivals throughout Southeast Asia.
The festival in Thailand also includes special programs and specific local patterns like Bung Fai (Parade dance) and a Beautiful Bung Fai float such as Yasothon the third weekend of May, and continues Suwannaphum District, Roi Et on the first weekend of June, Phanom Phrai District Roi Et during the full moon of the seventh month in Lunar year's calendar each year. The Bung Fai festival is not only found in Isan or Northeasthern Thailand and North Thailand and Laos, but also in Amphoe Sukhirin, Narathiwat.
A report from Andy Jarosz from BBC Travel about his day trekking to the remote 100 waterfalls in Nong Khiaw 10 years ago (in 2012). The experience that you cannot miss when visiting the area. Check out the details as below so that you have some ideas of what to expect.
In the last four years, the rural village of Nong Khiaw has seen a steady stream of adventure travellers who want to experience the 10km trek before it disappears.
Strictly speaking, the name of the 100 Waterfalls Trek in northern Laos is misleading, since it is impossible to say how many waterfalls tumble through the thick jungle along the steady 10km ascent, with each one tumbling immediately into the next.
Let's start your day city tour in Luang Prabang with a visit to the Royal Palace Museum, which hosts a range of interesting artifacts. From there, you walk to the nearby Wat Mai, which is one of Luang Prabang’s largest and most richly decorated temples.
Continue your tour seeing the city’s oldest temple of Wat Sene and the magnificent Wat Xiengthong with its roofs sweeping low to the ground, which represents classical Laotian architecture.
Continue your visit to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre to learn about Laos’ many ethnic cultures.
You can take a short walk around the small roads of the city center, watching the life of local people, and visiting the traditional house of Heuan Chan, the Chantal wooden house dating back to 100 years old.
Late afternoon, you can climb up to the top of Mount Phousi for an enjoyable exploration of the sacred, gilded stupa as well as a panoramic sunset view of the city and the Mekong River.
Sai Bat (Morning Alms) is a longstanding tradition in Laos Buddhist culture. In observing it, the devoted offer food to monks throughout the Luang Prabang every morning.
Starting from early morning around 05:30 to 06:30 am in March to October and 06:00 to 07:00 am in November to Febuary.
Held on the main street in every morning, there are many places through the town and inside every temples. Here just give the main procession: in front of Xiengthong temple, Luang Prabang Primary School and Natonal Museum.
Observe the ritual in silence and contribute an offering only if it is meaning for you and can do so respectfully. If you do not wish to make an offering, please keep an appropriate distance and take care not get in the way of the monk procession or those making offerings.
An icon just outside the city, Kuang Si Waterfalls are stunning and SO worth seeing it in person (the water really is that blue!). If you are fairly confident and comfortable on a motorbike, you could rent one and get there on your own.
Minivans and Tuk-Tuks are also available to take you there. From the entrance, it is a small hike up to the waterfalls that will take you past rescued black bears hanging out at the sanctuary. It will only be a few minutes before you start hearing the water. The area is packed with tourists for most of the day, so consider going early in the morning and try to be the first person in if you want to avoid the crowds. To get a panoramic view of the waterfalls from high up, continue your hike to the (not so) secret waterfalls.
You can embark on a leisure cruise upstream on the Mekong River, which also gives you a breathtaking view of the tranquil countryside, before reaching the mysterious Pak Ou Caves, two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims.
One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to see the elaborate interiors of the Pak Ou caves is to book a guided caves tour, where you will be able to get detailed information on the site.
Also just on the outskirts of Pakse, Wat Phu is an impressive Khmer temple that reminds me of a miniature version of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, though it was actually built in the 7th century, way before Angkor Wat.
Wat Phu does not see as many tourists, though, so it’s a nice change of atmosphere. This will make a nice day trip from Pakse, just make sure to pile on sunscreen as there’s very little shade!
The Bolaven Plateau is known for its cooler temperature being located high above the Mekong Valley and famous for its sprawling coffee plantations and many waterfalls. Explore the delights of this area, accompanied by a knowledgeable coffee guide, by vintage jeep. The tour starts with a visit to several villages on the plateau and a break at the secluded Tad Moan waterfall, which offers the perfect place to relax and swim. After exploring the wonders of the plateau, head to the Mystic Mountain coffee plantation to witness and learn about the coffee roasting process. You will have time to explore the plantation’s verdant surrounds while your hosts prepare a delicious home-cooked lunch. For those wishing to delve deeper into the process of coffee production, there is the option of a homestay to learn some of the techniques of the trade from the owner of the plantation and further explore the area.
Hidden among green-carpeted karsts and pockets of jungle, ruggedly beautiful Vang Vieng is no longer the party town that gave it its bad reputation, but a lot of fun can still be had here. For full-on adventure, kayak down the Nam Song at white-water rafting speeds. Pull up at the river’s edge and swap paddles for a harness for a zipline experience taking you above the tree-tops, finishing with a steep descent that makes you certain you’ll plunge into the river below.
If you prefer being underground to flying through the air, explore Vang Vieng’s best caves. Tham Xang (Elephant Cave) is home to ancient Buddha statues, a Buddha footprint and an elephant-shaped stalactite. Tham Hoi and Tham Loup also house Buddha statues along with the names of 100 people who hid in the cave during the wars. To explore Tham Nam (Water Cave), jump in a rubber ring and tube through the dark, water-filled cave with only a headtorch and rope for guidance.
Continue the adventure at the Blue Lagoon on the slides, swings and jumping platforms erected around the sparkling turquoise waters. If you need a break, Vang Vieng offers many relaxing locations, including riverside hammocks where you can watch the world go by with a Beer Lao in hand.
Formerly a French colony, charming Vientiane is South-East Asia’s answer to Paris. Visit Wat Sisaket, the oldest temple with thousands of miniature Buddha statues, and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image.
Enroute to Lao’s national icon, the precious and sacred structure of That Luang Stupa, you will have the opportunity to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, which is known as Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph.
For an insight into the tragic history, visit the COPE centre. More bombs were dropped on Laos per capita during the Vietnam War than any other country in history. Many bombs failed to detonate, and still injure Laotians today, hence the importance of COPE. This organisation educates visitors on the problem, and provides victims with prosthetic limbs and rehabilitation.
Head south to Si Phan Don, explore the local peaceful villages of Ban Khone, where you will see an array of relics from the French colonial era and retrace the old colonial past, including old French colonial buildings and the remnants of the first Lao railway with its locomotive.
Continue to discover the 4000 islands area by tuktuk and visit the marvelous Liphi waterfall, also called the ""Corridor of the Devil"" one of the most beautiful waterfalls marking Lao border with Cambodia.
If you are lucky, you may even see the rare freshwater Irrawaddy Mekong dolphin at Ban Hang Khone.
Then visit Khone Phapheng, which is considered the largest waterfall by volume in South East Asia. Khone Phapheng is an impressive spot near the Lao-Cambodian border, set within an area which is teeming with wildlife, making this area one of the most breathtaking destinations in Laos.
No trip to Vientiane is complete without checking out the sculptures in Buddha Park. Also called Xieng Kuan, this family-friendly park on the banks of the Mekong is 15.5 miles (25 kilometers) from downtown Vientiane. Over 200 Buddhist statues are on display in the park, including a giant domed structure that visitors can climb inside to view the park from above. The Park is full of sculptures that reflect the religious interests of the founder, Luang Pu Bunleau Sulilat, who began the work on the park in 1958. He was interested in merging the beliefs of Buddhism with those of Hinduism, so you’ll find concrete sculptures of the Hindu gods, demonic figures, zoomorphic creatures, and many of the Buddha, including a 40-meter-long reclining Buddha. There’s also a huge pumpkin sculpture, which can be entered through the mouth of a demon leading to three floors representing earth, heaven and hell.
The Elephant Village Sanctuary in Luang Prabang is an educational facility dedicated to the rehabilitation and protection of Asian elephants in Laos. The facility also provides employment to villagers. Elephants at the sanctuary are rescued work elephants that are protected.
A day tour through the Elephant Village lets you interact with the large animals. You can try your hand at being a mahout with an experience designed to let you learn how to care for and bathe the elephant. This is one of the most comprehensive, hands-on experiences in the country and a rare chance to get up close to these magnificent animals.
Tucked within the Phou Hin Boun National Protected Area in central Laos are the Kong Lor Caves. It is a river cave system that stretches for more than 7.4 kilometers, one of the longest in the world. You can take a boat trip through the caves with a guide, who can point out the stunning geological formations. The caves are quite dark, and you might get wet in certain conditions if water is dripping from the ceilings.
Once you make your way through the winding cave waters, other popular things to do include walking through the tiny rural village of Kong Lor and enjoying some of the other outdoor activities in the national park. The best way to get to the caves is to stay in Vientiane and hire a bus. Kong Lor caves is about five hours from Vientiane, so you will want to plan an overnight trip.
The organic farm of The Living Land Company not only grows food in Luang Prabang but provides an opportunity for tourists to work on the land like the natives. Located in the countryside, you can don a conical hat and learn how to harvest a rice patty, plough a field using livestock, and learn the skill of threshing in a real farm environment.
Be forewarned that the experience is authentic and it is difficult manual labor. If you prefer to not get your hands dirty, you can simply observe the locals performing their daily chores in the fields.
The Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden is a stunning display of plants and flowers that are native to Laos. This facility has a greater mission to educate visitors on the relationship between Laos people and their natural surroundings, so you will see that theme throughout the gardens and information. Examples of this include exhibits that showcase plants that were traditionally used in medicine or for ceremonial purposes.
The plant collections include hundreds of varieties of orchids, ferns, bamboos, and more. There are several types of gardens and collections to visit on the grounds.
If you are interested in additional eco-treks in Laos, the experts at the botanical garden can direct you to reputable guides.
In order to get to the botanical garden, you must take a boat from Luang Prabang. The boat returns to the city every hour until 5:30pm, and the cost is included in your admission ticket.
Plain of Jars’ thousands of mysterious megalithic jars are scattered throughout Xiang Khuang Province in northeastern Laos. Dating from the iron age, the oldest jars go back to 500 BC.
The largest “King Jar” is at Site 1 and the longest jar is at Site 2. It’s possible to hire a guide to take you on a trek from Site 2, which is behind a rice paddy to Site 3, which is in the forest on top of a hill. The leading theory suggests these stone vessels were used in burial rituals. Evidence suggests that bodies were distilled in the jars until only bones remained. The bones were then removed and interred in a ceramic jar or in the ground.
Nine of the 90 sites containing jars have been cleared of UXOs, so stick to the established routes and bring a guide out trekking with you.
The Mekong River, which spans the length of the country from its northern jungles to the volcanic coffee-growing plains around Pakse, has been Laos’ lifeline for centuries. And even if some of it is no longer navigable because of recently built hydroelectric dams, the stretch from the Thai border at Huay Xai down to Luang Prabang remains the most popular way to experience the slow lifestyle of local river communities. The trip takes two days, with an overnight stop in the village of Pak Beng, before boats moor at Luang Prabang’s jetty. If coming from northern Thailand, you can buy tickets and board the slow boat in the border town of Houay Xai. In Laos, book your tickets in Luang Prabang: Shompoo Cruise offers luxurious river explorations on charming wooden schooners that ply the route between Luang Prabang, Pakbeng, and the Thai border, stopping at popular sites like the Pak Ou Caves along the way.
Every traveler should try one of Laos’ simplest but tastiest foods, khao piak sen. This savory tapioca noodle soup served in chicken broth is sold at every restaurant, stall, and bus station, and served in every home across the country. Be sure to make use of the fresh herbs, soy sauce, and bean sprouts that every seller will add on your table next to your steaming bowl. But be cautious with the chilies, as they really burn. A popular place to eat khao piak sen in Vientiane is the Phim Phone Noodle shop in Dongpalane Road, just south of the Morning Market.
Laos’ namesake beer is as popular and widespread as water. In fact, sometimes it is easier to find than bottled water as you really can find it anywhere …including in the middle of nowhere. Look for it at remote street stalls catering to locals and in the packed touristy bars of Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang. Beer Lao is a smooth, savory, and light brew, and it goes down well with any meal. It is somewhat of a national obsession, so feel free to sample it at every opportunity.
Laos’ main cities are filled with a plethora of international dining choices and fine cuisine, but to truly enjoy the zesty flavors of Lao cooking, it’s best to hit the street and eat like a local. From tapioca noodle soups to barbecued meats and sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves, Laotians are masters of street food. You are in for a culinary treat.
Have you ever been to Pakse if you haven’t taken the time to climb the staircase to the top of Wat Phou Salao? Doubtful. A moderate half-hour climb brings you next to the giant golden Buddha that sits at this vantage point. From here, you can look out over the town and the junction between the Mekong and Sedone rivers.
Baci Ceremony (also spelt Basi) is specific ceremony in Laos which has been practiced for hundreds of years. The term commonly used is “Sou Khuan” which means “spirit enhancing or spirit calling”. The ceremony involves the tying of white cotton strings around person’s wrists and the prayer saying or well wishing for the person that the ceremony is intended for.
Lao people believe that a human being is a union of thirty-two organs, each has a spirit or Khuan (Lao word for spirit) to protect them. These spirits often wander outside the body causing unbalance of the soul which might lead to an illness. The tying of the white string represents tying of the 32 spirits to the body putting them back in harmony as well as bringing good luck and prosperity.
The Kamu Lodge is a beautiful eco-lodge in a remote location on the banks of the majestic Mekong River in northern Laos. Access to the lodge is by a private boat - a two and a half-hour ride upstream through glorious scenery from Luang Prabang.
Accommodation is in luxury safari tents, mounted on semi-permanent bamboo platforms with thatched covered roofs. All are fitted with solar-powered electricity and hot water. Beds are comfy, and the rooms are well located, with private balconies surrounded by forest and the river banks.
Several excellent excursions are included in the price. In-house activities include rice farming, fishing, gold panning, Laos archery and tours of the local village. More adventurous excursions include treks to caves and waterfalls and tribal communities. The staff will also teach you how to find medicinal plants in the forest if you are interested.
The lodge is built next to a small Kamu village with close and harmonious ties between the two. The lodge is run in a sensitive and eco-friendly way, protecting and enriching the village people. The area around the lodge is spectacularly pretty, with lush paddy fields, a dramatic mountainous backdrop and the mighty river below.
The lodge would suit anyone interested in getting a flavour of life in rural Laos or a voyage on the mighty Mekong River. It is a very peaceful place, ideal for relaxing and taking it easy. Food is served where you choose, either on your balcony or in the riverside restaurant. All meals and soft drinks are included in the price made with organic ingredients. Staff are vital to the success of the lodge. Sourced from local villages, they inject their warm and friendly personalities to give a very welcoming and engaging atmosphere to the entire project.
Kamu Lodge can also be visited as an extra night stop on the Luang Say cruise following the initial night stop in Pak Beng.