Laos is known as the most relaxed, happy and easy going of all the Southeast Asian countries. Unlike Cambodia and Vietnam which were devastated by the war, whose effects can still be seen on the expressions of the locals, Laos has no such reservations. Upon stepping foot into the country, you’ll be greeted with laughing children, friendly merchants and an incredibly laid back attitude.
Laos is known for many things. It’s known for their home brewed alcohol, which can be so strong that only a select few foreigners can drink any more than one shot. It’s known for its “tubing” experience, where young travelers go to party like there’s no tomorrow. It’s known for its incredible natural beauty, including many gorgeous waterfalls and mysterious caves.
Laotian food is also a fantastic experience. The food is strongly influenced by other Southeast Asian countries, yet they have foods that are distinctly Laotian.
Laos is situated right along the Mekong River. This opens up all kinds of adventures for tourists. Boat rides abound, where you can see the shores of Laos from an incredible scenic boat ride. You can swim you can play with the locals and you can even go fishing with the locals.
Begin Your Journey in Luang Prabang
Most journeys into Laos begin in Luang Prabang. Luang Prabang is a small nature town north of Vang Vieng and Vientiane. It’s the closest major town to the Thai border and is most people’s first taste of the “real” Laos.
In Luang Prabang are the impressive Wat Sene and Wat Xiengthong temples. These temples will give you a glimpse into the hearts and minds of Laotian culture. They’re built with traditional Lao architecture, with extremely low ceilings.
Near Luang Prabang are the Pak Ou caves. Here you can test both your sense of adventure and your religious intuition. The caves are packed with all kinds of different Buddha statues. Make sure you read up on the local customs or talk to someone about the etiquette before going in these caves.
Then you have Luang Prabang’s main attraction: The Khouangsi Waterfall. It’s an enormous waterfall that’s incredible both in person and in photos. A perfect Facebook opportunity.
Near the waterfall are several other pools of water. You can go for a swim, or even take a swing from a nearby rope into the water.
By the entrance of the waterfalls are many bears, kept in a very large cage. You can take photos of the bears and enjoy nature in all its glory.
Near Luang Prabang you have the Ban Xangkhong, a very traditional Laotian village. Here you can witness the local people making Lao silk from scratch, all by hand. You can also watch them making Saa paper by hand. It’s an incredible glimpse into what it’s really like to live in the country.
Plain of Jars
The Plain of Jars are an impressive array of huge stone jars. They’re preserved in incredible shape. Some of them are as large as a person.
What confounds archeologists is that nobody really knows what those jars were placed there for. Where they objects of worship? Do they serve a practical purpose? Why did they line up hundreds of jars in the middle of nowhere?
The Plain of Jars is a fantastic place to ask yourself some of these questions. It’s an awe-inspiring and truly mystifying place.
Finally, no trip to Laos would be complete without a tour of its capital. The capital city of Laos is a unique blend of both past and future. The streets are full of cuisines from all around the world – Including burgers and sushi. At the same time however, there are all kinds of traditional activities, from Laotian massages to tea shops.
Near Vientiane are all kinds of religious monuments. You can visit Laos’ world renowned That Luang Stupa, as well as the gigantic Patuxay Monument. If you’re a fan of culture, history, archeology or religion, Vientiane is a gold mine of experiences.
Laos has something to offer for everyone. The waterfalls, the animals, the massages, the culture, the religion, the parties. It’s a country of incredible joy and relaxed attitude. Most people who step foot in this county never want to leave.