Although Laos is often overshadowed by its neighbouring countries, this country is actually full of untouched sceneries, waiting to be explored. Between its jagged limestone cliffs, brooding jungle and the snaking Mekong River, Laos is an adventure playground all in one bite-sized destination. So what are you waiting for? Check out our list of 10 awesome things to do in Laos and get exploring.
- 1 Explore the Temples
- 2 Gawk at the Views From Viewpoint Nong Khiaw/Ban Sop Houn
- 3 Eat & Shop at the Luang Prabang Night Market
- 4 Venture Through the Underground River Caves
- 5 Experience the Alms Giving Ceremony of the Monks
- 6 Swim in the Refreshing Waterfalls
- 7 Monkey Around at the Gibbon Experience
- 8 Go Hiking up Mount Phousi
- 9 Cycle, Hike, and Kayak Through Luang Prabang with Tiger Trail Travel
- 10 Tubing in Vang Vieng
Explore the Temples
Like many Asian countries, Laos has no shortage of stunning temples to be admired and explored. If you want to escape the tourist hordes and appreciate the architecture, hide away in the temples for some genuine peace and quiet. A popular place to come and listen to the monks at prayer is the Golden City Temple (Wat Xieng Thong) located in the old quarter of Luang Prabang. For a full day out in Champasak, take a boat ride down Mekong River and climb to the top of the hill to see the stunning Wat Phu and mountain views.
Gawk at the Views From Viewpoint Nong Khiaw/Ban Sop Houn
Is seeing one of the best views of Laos on our top 10 list? Hell yeah! Although the hike up to this spot is by no means a walk in the park (see what I did there), the gruelling climb up is worth it. Your reward? Breathtaking views of lush green mountains interspersed with the murky river. It’s even better when you do the hike to see sunrise or sunset, as the weather is more forgiving and nothing beats a stunning view beneath the orange glow of the sky. Just remember to take a torch and mosquito spray!
Eat & Shop at the Luang Prabang Night Market
With thousands of tents selling everything and anything you can imagine, spend a couple of hours here looking, buying, exploring and getting lost. You will probably stumble upon something you like whether it’s a handmade scarf, rice vodka (snake included!) or the local Laos coffee. You can then spend the evening eating at one of the restaurants or food stalls close by. If you like to shop till you drop and love a good bargain, then head to the night market any day from 4pm! Luang Prabang also has a Morning Market. With cool and fresh weather, friendly food vendors and even better food, it’s the best way to start the day.
Editor’s Note: Looking for more tips on Traveling Laos? Check out our full guide featuring what to do, where to go, and more.
Venture Through the Underground River Caves
You can easily spend a few hours at any of the caves in Laos, but one that should be on the top of anyone’s list is Kong Lor Cave. A newer region for tourism and a part of the Khammouane Khast National Protected Area, the beauty of the cave and the surrounding mountains are completely unspoiled. Take a boat trip through the pitch black cave by flashlight and explore the mysteries of the cave as you walk through lit passageways. Look out for spiders, bats and snakes! Once out the other side you can cliff jump and spend some time swimming till your heart’s content.
Experience the Alms Giving Ceremony of the Monks
For a completely local and humbling experience, get up bright and early to see the Alms Giving Ceremony right in the heart of Luang Prabang. Buy boxes of rice or biscuits to participate in the ceremony or just sit back and watch in awe. The procession will start on the main street near Wat Xieng Thong, where hundreds of monks will walk through the streets lined receiving offerings from the local people. What the monks get from the people is their food for the day, however, they also give most of it to poor people sitting along the way. This experience is an extremely moving one, regardless of your religion and is not to be missed if you are in Luang Prabang.
As it is a local ceremony, remember to be respectful. Dress appropriately and don’t take pictures unless you ask permission. Just enjoy and take in the feeling.
Swim in the Refreshing Waterfalls
Waterfalls are a welcome reprieve from the heat and humidity, not to mention breathtakingly beautiful. For some picturesque swimming head to Tad Sae waterfall where you can relax on the rocks or take a dip in one of the turquoise pools. If you hike past the first set of waterfalls you’ll find yourself at a second set if anything more beautiful than the first. Definitely, don’t miss this. Set aside a day for the waterfalls as your only regret will be not being able to stay longer! Alternatively, if you are in Luang Prabang, the Kwang Si Waterfalls is a must visit!
Monkey Around at the Gibbon Experience
Okay, so a little bit of a misleading title but make of it what you will. The Gibbon experience is a chance for you to be the kings of the jungle, ziplining your way from hilltop to hilltop and staying the night in your own tree house high above the ground. Oh yeah, and you may even be lucky enough to spot a family of Gibbons when you’re there! You’ll definitely hear them anyway! If you want to have the jungle to yourself and watch gorgeous sunrises and sunsets from the balcony of your treehouse, then this experience is for you. Oh, and did I mention you have your own outside rain shower? Enough said.
Go Hiking up Mount Phousi
People refer to this activity as a hike but it is actually a really really long staircase that takes you to the top of the hill. 298 steps to be exact, but well worth the effort. With Buddhas everywhere against the backdrop of stunning landscapes, you’ll want to take your camera for the walk up. The views of Luang Prabang and the Mekong River are also pretty stunning when you get to the top. As always, mountaintop views are always best viewed during sunrise or sunset to watch the sky take on different shades of yellow and red to blue or black. This particular walk is quieter in the day but you won’t get the majestic view of the sun setting/rising behind the view of the town, lake and surrounding mountains.
Cycle, Hike, and Kayak Through Luang Prabang with Tiger Trail Travel
Looking for some sustainable adventures in Laos? Organize unique short trips or extended journeys with Tiger Trail Travel. Perfect for getting out of town and experiencing the rural side of Laos, you can spend two adventure-filled days cycling, hiking and kayaking through the mountains and jungle landscapes. You also get to spend the night with the Khmu hill-tribes in the karst mountains, how cool is that? In our opinion, cycling and hiking is the best way to experience a new place in its entirety. Plus it’s a great workout too! Check out the website of Tiger Trail Travel below to see their tours
Insider Tip: Before booking tours around Southeast Asia, make sure to research the company to make sure that no animals are exploited. If you look around, a lot more companies are supporting sustainable travel which means the animals are happy and you have a better experience!
Tubing in Vang Vieng
Yes, the party destination of Vang Vieng had to make our top list! A lot more controlled now than it used to be, you can now go there to float down the river on a tube, hike around the mountains or explore the caves. This little tourist town is rebranding itself to make the most out of its surroundings but tubing is still very much a part of it. So go there with an open mind, chill for a few days, enjoy great company and do a little tubing.
As you can see from our list, there is a good mix of sightseeing, culture and adventure activities to do in Laos. While most places are still untouched by tourism, now is the time to explore and find your own little haven! Happy travels!
Need help planning your trip to Laos? Check out these reviews!
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