Top Attractions in Laos

Laos is well-known among the travel community as a laid-back and relaxing place to visit. Straddled between its glamourous, bustling neighbours of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, this unassuming country has more than its fair share of treasures, from the natural beauty of Northern Laos to its gorgeous temples and religious monuments. Increasingly, more and more travellers have discovered the charm of this surprisingly cosmopolitan country, and tourism has been constantly on the rise. Here, we introduce some of the top things to do in Laos.

Go River Tubing along Nam Song

There is perhaps no better way to enjoy the idyllic Laotian countryside than going river tubing along the Nam Song River. A small river that flows through the town of Vang Vieng, it is flanked by beautiful karst formations, rising magnificently from the ground. Because of the strong river currents, locals often ‘rope’ travellers in, where they can either make their way back up to the steep rocks for another ride or edge their way towards the multitude of bars lining the sides of the river. For the less adventurous who do not fancy an adrenaline rush while travelling in the inner tube of a tractor, kayaking is also available.

Dig into some Larb

Regarded as the national dish of Laos, this meat salad is a must-try for any travellers to Laos. There is a range of variations, from the selection of meat (chicken, beef, duck or pork amongst others) to its preparation (cooked or raw). It is usually minced and garnished with generous portions of spices and vegetables, then paired with sticky rice and raw greens. Thai ground roasted rice powder called Khao Khua is also a significant portion of this dish, adding to the fragrance of the dish and absorbing excess moisture from the meat.

Bargain at the Luang Prabang Night Market

Boasting the largest collection of handicrafts for sale, travellers will be spoilt for a choice of souvenirs to bring back home. Open daily from dusk till around 10 pm, some of the featured goods well worth taking a look at include their duvet covers and hanging lamps. There is also a wide range of textiles available. Most of the crafts are hand-made by the owners and range from young children to the elderly.

Visit the Pak Ou Caves

These famous ‘Buddha Caves’ can be reached by boat from Luang Prabang. Hundreds of miniature religious sculptures, mostly carved out of wood, are laid out in these caves on shelves, and feature an outstanding variety of positions, from meditation to teaching. There are two levels, one which is visible from the river, the higher level accessible by climbing some steps. Most of the sculptures are donated by the local people and together, make for a fascinating sight.

Take photographs at Wat Xieng Khuan

Perhaps the most famous park in Laos, this is a religious sculpture park located near Vientiane. Here, there is a huge collection, some 200 of them, of religious figures carved from concrete, ranging from Buddhist to Hindu deities. The most well-known sculpture is the tremendous 120-metre reclining Buddha sculpture. Another notable one resembles a giant pumpkin with three levels representing Hell, Earth and Heaven. Artistic and unique, it is well worth a visit, if only for taking some interesting photography shots.

Be dazzled by the Pha That Luang

No traveller to Laos can miss its national symbol – a gorgeous golden stupa which is the most important national monument in Laos. Also called The Great Stupa, the enormous, pyramid-like complex is considered one of the most sacred Buddhist temples in Vientiane, and the architecture embodies much of the Lao culture and national identity. Having been reconstructed several times, this version is a French-directed reconstruction. There is a legend which states that the temple contains the breastbone of Buddha; every year, the Lao people come here to celebrate a major religious holiday – the That Luang Festival.

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