Exciting Things to do in Laos
It used to be that Laos was not on the top of a lot of traveller’s lists for exciting things to do and see. Visiting Laos, for most tourists, meant visiting Vientiane only. It’s a lovely city, filled with colonial architecture and friendly people. But travellers that confined their visit to the city limits missed out on some spectacular natural scenery that more intrepid visitors have since discovered and raved about.
Laos is a perfectly safe country to visit if you follow the common sense rules of travel. You shouldn't be wary of getting out and exploring the natural wonders that this ancient and beautiful country filled with friendly and helpful people has to offer.
We’re listing five of the most exciting things to do and places to see outside of Vientiane to encourage people to see all the sights on offer on their next visit to Laos.
The sights and activities we’ve singled out are ones that show off the countryside and natural wonders of the country. Getting out of the city allows you to see a side of Laos that you shouldn’t miss. Be sure to bring your camera to share with your friends back home all the wonderful sights and activities you’ll enjoy on your trip.
Did you know that Laos is a coffee-growing country? The Bolavan Plateau is one of the prettiest areas of the country, and it’s also filled with coffee plantations. This plateau in southern Laos is situated at between 1,000 and 1,500 metres above sea level, so residents enjoy a cooler climate. This climate is what has proven to be a major factor in the success of the coffee-growing industry on the plateau.
But the surrounding landscape is equally as lush and beautiful. Spend a couple of days hiking or biking around the area to discover what an almost untouched paradise looks like. There are also three waterfalls in the region that are absolutely spectacular and becoming a must-see for tourists. Tad Fane, Tad Tayicseua and Tad Champee each plummet over 100 metres from the lip of a cliff into the valley below.
Located within the Champasak Cultural Landscape is a well-preserved temple at the foot of Phu Kao Mountain. This UNESCO-listed site is more than 1,000 years old and was originally constructed as a Hindu temple. It was later turned into a Buddhist shrine. It is still actively used by followers of Buddhism.
The temple is surrounded by lush vegetation which serves to make the structures stand out even more prominently. There are five existing structures on the expansive site, all oriented towards the east.
The moist scenic and comfortable way to visit the temple is to take a 3-day river cruise from Pakse to Vat Phou aboard a deluxe riverboat that functions as a floating hotel.
Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre
Located 30 kilometres southwest of Luang Prabang in the middle of the jungle, the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre offers a haven for Asiatic Black Bears. These bears have been rescued from farms that perform the cruel practice of milking them for their stomach bile. Stomach bile is used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Freed from the barbaric practices of bile milking and the cramped cages in which they had spent all of their previous lives, the bears at Tat Kuang Si can spend their days lazing about the grounds or playing with each other.
If you visit Tat Kuang Si, you also shouldn’t miss a side trip to Tat Kuang Si waterfall. The bear rescue centre is at the foot of the trail to the waterfall.
Si Phan Don - 4,000 Islands
In the Khong district of the Champasak province of southern Laos is a group of islands in the centre of the Mekong River that is referred to as Si Phan Don, or 4,000 Islands.
Most visitors travel to Don Khon or Don Det where there a number of guest-houses and other cheap accommodations available. Si Phan Don is great for people who love to swim and explore the various islands or laze the day away on the island’s beaches. You may also get the chance to see the region’s rare Irrawaddy Dolphins.
For hikers and nature lovers, the town of Luang Namtha in north-west Laos should not be missed. The town is situated at the edge of the Nam Ha National Biodiversity Area and offers lots of trails through the jungles and forests of the region that are a delight for people itching to hit the trail and see the flora, fauna and visit the hillside tribes of the country.
The city of Luang Namtha is the largest in the region and offers plenty of accommodations. There is an airport for travellers who choose to arrive by air as the buses from cities such as Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Pakse will take several hours to reach this city.
But however you choose to arrive, the trip will be well worth the effort. Visit Nam Dee Waterfall, the Chedi on the Hill and explore the kilometres of hiking trails through the biodiversity area to see all the rich, natural surroundings that have made Luang Namtha a magnet for nature lovers.