The ultimate bucket list for your trip in Laos from a local expert
Laos has so much to offer the traveller, from its stunning scenery to the friendliness of its people, a warm welcome awaits you wherever you go. But what are the most amazing experiences this country has to offer? A local expert has put together some ideas for the ultimate bucket list for your trip in Laos.
Zip line in front of Tad Fane
What could be more exhilarating than whizzing past a roaring waterfall on a zipline? At Tad Fane on the Bolaven Plateau in the south of Laos, you can do just that in a series of flights that take you to and past stunning scenery, and the falls, of course.
Wat Um Tomo
Feel like an old school explorer amongst the deserted ruins of the Khmer temple. Originally built on the River Tomo in the 9th Century, this temple is one of a number around the Champasak region near Wat Phou. Nowadays trees grow through the old crumbling walls and buffalo graze between the fallen lingas.
Wat Phou festival
Pre-dating Angkhor Wat, and heavy with phallic imagery, Wat Phou was built between the 5th and the 16th century near Champasak. On the full moon of the third lunar month (normally in February) the Makha Bucha festival takes place over 3 days and the temple, stunning in the candlelight, comes alive with worshippers, walking up the many well-worn steps between the frangipani trees.
Go trekking amongst the Waterfalls around Tad Tayicseua.
In the cool of the Bolovan Plateau, amongst the tea and coffee plantations are a number of spectacular waterfalls, and the seven around Tad Tayicseua are particularly stunning. Put on your walking boots and bring a towel to dry off after swimming. Also, make sure you try the incredible coffee while you are there.
Kayaking through Konglor
Paddle your way 7 kilometres along the river as it winds through Konglor Cave, the inside of which has been lit like a cathedral.
The Orchids Trek
Head out to Phou Khao Khouay National Park for an orchid trek led by an experienced orchid hunter. While you are there, swim and shower at the multi-tiered waterfall in the park.
Give alms and eat with the monks
Almost every morning the monks do their alms rounds and you can give food by the side of the road. This food is taken back to the temple where the monks chant then eat. Once they have finished eating, anyone who has joined them is invited to eat the food. It’s a wonderful experience, not to be missed.
Salt mines of Ban Keun
Just 60 kilometres from Vientiane is a salt mine where salt is brought up from deep underground. An extraordinary sight, reminiscent of pre-industrialisation days.
Balloon ride at sunset in Vang Vieng
The balloons fly above the limestone khasts that jut out from the ground around the Nam Song River. Watch the new day begin, or the sun set as you float above this spectacular landscape.
Volunteering as a mahout with Elefantasie
Stay, and work with the mahouts as they tend to their elephants, feeding them, bathing them and generally caring for them in the clearing of the forest on the side of a lake just outside Sayaburi.
Plain of Jars
An extraordinary place, especially at dawn or dusk when the light gives the huge jars that dot the area a mystical quality. Believed to be linked to some sort of death ritual, archaeologists are still researching the reason for all these jars. Maybe plunge into one of the many hot spas in the area while you are there.
Milk a buffalo at Lao Buffalo Dairy in Luang Prabang
Who hasn’t always dreamed of milking a buffalo? And at the buffalo dairy you can do just that! And bathe them, feed them, and taste their milk, as it is or made into cheese, yoghurt or even ice-cream!
Rosewood Luang Prabang
The ultimate in glamping. Sleep in an ultra luxurious tented room on the side of the mountain.
The Gibbon Experience
Fly by zipline through the forest where you can watch the gibbons swinging through the trees. Your home for the night is a tree house, set high in the canopy from where you can watch the world, at least that in the forest, go by.
Cycle across a zipline at Nam Kat Yorla Pa
Visit the resort at Nam Kat Yorla Pa and cycle across a zipline high in the forest canopy. While you are there, you might also want to go trekking, walk along the sky bridges, relax on the giant ‘spider’s net’ or check out some of the waterfalls.
And, of course, have a Beer Lao next to the Mekong as the sun sets and the fishermen head in with their catch.