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Places to visit in Laos: attractions you can't miss

by Juan José Herranz | March 7, 2022
golden pagoda in Laos

Hidden between the states of Southeast Asia lies the hidden gem of Laos. Tourists who have already been, describe it as a trip back in time. With ancient architecture and Buddhist temples, this place is a must for zen loving folks and culture lovers.

With a lot of its sites labelled as the UNESCO World Heritage Site, let's take a look at some of the places you must visit:

Luang Prabang

Considered a must for all tourists, Luang Prabang is the heart of tourism in Laos. With every nook of the city having some sort of attraction, the city is filled with temples, souvenir shops, museums and art. Filled with culture, some of the restaurants are built in French colonial buildings giving a glimpse back in history.

With more than 30 temples and royal palaces, no tourist leaves unamused. It's common for tourists to explore the city on bicycles, offer food to orange orangutans as a ritual or overlook the Mekong River.

Kuang Si Waterfall in Laos

That Luang

Labelled as the most significant monument of Laos, Pha That Luang (“Great Stupa in Lao”) is located in Vientiane and is the symbol of Laos. Built in the 16th century on the ruins of an earlier Khmer temple, this monument has different terraces, each representing a different level for Buddhists. Smashed in the 1828 invasion and later reconstructed by the French, this is a must for history lovers.

The Vientiane Morning Market in Laos should be on your agenda whether you are seeking for Lao silk scarves and gifts or simply enjoy the thrill of the hunt and negotiating for a good price. It's a classic open-air village market with everything from food to religious statue replicas to silk garments.

Vang Vieng

Famous for its mountains, vang Vieng pulls in all mountain climbers and hikers from the Asian region and more. This quaint and scenic village, surrounded by enormous mountains, rivers, caverns, limestone cliffs, and rice fields, has a lengthy list of noteworthy features.

The Nam Song River is the site of the infamous 'tubing' rides, which are a popular Vang Vieng activity. Previously, the area was known for its rave bars and alcoholism. However, thanks to government assistance, the area has been transformed. The Blue Lagoon, Tham Phu Kham (Golden Crab Cave), and Silver Lake are all must-see attractions.

Vang Vieng in Laos

The Plain of Jars

The Plain of Jars is regarded as the most unique and mysterious of all Laotian attractions. The civilisation responsible for the Plain of Jars, one of Southeast Asia's most remarkable prehistoric sites, is still a mystery to locals and archaeologists. The views are truly spectacular and the road leading to this location is bordered by tribal communities and other sights.

Sinouk Coffee Tour

It will probably be the freshest and best coffee you've ever had. Sinouk coffee is the most prominent supplier of coffee in Laos.

They dry the beans the old fashioned way on the Sinouk plantation: under huge tarps in the sun. The plantation is organically certified and coffee connoisseurs can stay on-site at the Sinouk Coffee Resort and wake up to the scent of freshly brewed Lao Arabica coffee. You can also take a tour throught the gardens.

Don Khong

This lush and green site is situated in the southern areas of Laos. The three main islands, Don Khong, Don Khon, and Don Det, are the best places to experience the true Laos culture. Local guesthouses and cuisine, along with the friendly and laid back locals make the perfect mix to freshen up the mind.

Wat Phu

The temple, which is located at the base of the Phu Kao mountain (considered a holy mountain) is one of the country's oldest worship locations. Although Wat Phu is a Buddhist temple, there are remnants of its Hindu past. It is decorated by lush vegetation in its surroundings and has spectacular views of the Mekong River and Champasak Province.

If you continue walking from Wat Phu to the mountain, you'll come across a number of lesser known temples, many of which have crumbled over time.

This place is historically significant in Laos and if you listen closely, you can hear the soothing sounds of the rushing waters of the Mekong in the background.

Wat Pa Phu Kon temple in Laos

PhaPheng Waterfall

This peaceful village is nestled among 4000 islands. Although the internet connection is bad, nature is at its most beautiful state. Tourists generally visit during the Champasak festival and it is relatively quiet and calm throughout the rest of the year.

The Mekong River's water coming together from dozens of locations is a sensory experience. In the province of Champasak, the falls are located in a small park. If you're lucky, you could even get a glimpse of a fisherman at work!

Nong Kiau

On the northern side of the country rests yet another picturesque location. Filled with tranquillity and serenity, this is a treat for all adventure lovers. Aerial adventures, boating, kayaking, mountain treks, and trips to natural parks are just a few of the favourite activities in this peaceful town.

This little river valley, nestled between mountains and lush rainforest, is an ideal stopping point for exploring the north of Laos. The Nong Kiau's two sides are connected by a lovely Chinese bridge adding to the vibe.

Tham Kong Lor Caves

The Kong Lor Caves are located in central Laos, under the Phou Hin Boun National Protected Area. It is a river cave system that spans almost 7.4 kilometres, making it one of the world's longest. The cave's limestone formations, 300-foot-high ceilings, and the Nam Hinboun River that runs through it hypnotise visitors.

Boats can be used to access the cave, but make sure you visit when the water levels are high. Staying in Vientiane and hiring a bus is the easiest way to travel to the caverns.