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15 Essential places to see in Laos

Laos is one of the least visited Southeast Asian countries. They usually call it the “ugly duckling” because it is not a country with a coast and does not have those spectacular beaches, unlike its neighbors, Thailand, Vietnam or Cambodia. Generally, whoever travels to Laos, travels to combine it with Vietnam or Cambodia. And although it is a very feasible option to do it combining Cambodia, here I leave you a route through Laos and Cambodia in 15 days, I do not recommend combining it with Vietnam (since Vietnam itself, you won't even finish it in several weeks). In addition to cities full of history and ancient temples, in Laos you will find great natural wonders, such as waterfalls, jungles, valleys...

I have been traveling for years through Southeast Asia and living in several of its countries, and on the blog you will find complete guides and routes, combining Laos. Although, my recommendation is that you dedicate a single trip to Laos and if you can travel more than 10 days, the better. Here you have a complete route through Laos.

In this post I add the 15 essential places to see in Laos and in each of them you will find several links to other posts of the related destination so that you can complete and prepare your trip.

15 Essential places to see in Laos


1. Luang Prabang, one of the most beautiful cities to see in Laos

Although Luang Prabang is not the capital of Laos, it is undoubtedly the most essential city to visit. It is a city that stands out for its intersection of cultures, which left the best of them in every street, every temple, every market... Cars from the colonial era, cafes with a French essence, Buddhist temples, street food markets, tuktuks coming and going …without a doubt, it is one of the most beautiful cities with the most soul and essence in Laos. It is possible to visit the city in two days, although if you can add some extra, the better.

Posts from Luang Prabang that may interest you:

15 Essential places to see in Laos

2. Kuang Si waterfalls

The Kuang Si waterfalls, just 30 km from Luang Prabang, are a must-see in Laos. This natural wonder is made up of a set of turquoise blue waterfalls that stand out above the lush emerald vegetation. The waterfalls are located within a protected natural complex where you can enjoy bathing, walking along its trails and even visiting a bear recovery center. I explain how to visit the Kuang Si Waterfalls here.

Excursions to do from Luang Prabang to Kuang Si waterfalls:

15 Essential places to see in Laos

3. Muang Ngoi Neua

Muang Ngoi Neua is a small village with dirt roads, where electricity only works 2 to 3 hours a day. The image is very authentic and the best thing is its location, surrounded by nature, green mountains and the Nam On River. It is a destination to spend a night, perfect to disconnect and enjoy the most rural environment of Laos.

Posts from Muang Ngoi Neua that may interest you:

15 Essential places to see in Laos

4. The Mekong River in Laos

The Mekong River accompanies Laos from the border with Thailand and Myanmar, crossing Laos, to the border with Vietnam and Thailand (in fact, at the bottom, these 3 countries are divided by the Mekong River, this being their border).

Over the years, border areas have been places of conflict and were best avoided. Today, the areas that border Myanmar are not recommended to visit, but the areas with Thailand are friendly and you can enjoy a cruise along the Mekong. The best area to enjoy a Mekong cruise is in Luang Prabang. Cruises usually last about 3 hours, include pick-up and drop-off at your hotel and guide, for less than 20 euros when booking online. From the port it is possible to book them, but there, you will often have to negotiate prices and it tends to be more expensive.

5. Luang Namtha, the perfect place to enjoy the mountains of northern Laos

Luang Namtha is a rural area, full of plantations and rice fields. It reminded me a lot of the northern areas of Vietnam, like Sapa. The green landscapes and activities in the middle of nature make this place a perfect stop to disconnect by doing some trekking between rice fields or entering the jungle of Laos.

Posts about Luang Namtha that may interest you:

15 Essential places to see in Laos

6. Vientiane, the capital is a must see in Laos

Vientiane stands out for its temples. Despite not being a very pretty capital, it has many interesting temples such as Wat Sisaket or Wat Ho Phra Kae, as well as several charming markets, the Patuxay triumphal arch and the Mekong River. Without a doubt, it is an essential stop to make in Laos. It is possible to visit all the essential places in 2 days/1 night.

Posts from Vientiane that may interest you:

15 Essential places to see in Laos

7. Buddha Park

About 30 km from Vientiane you will find Buddha Park. An area where you will find more than 200 statues of different Buddhas. It is an interesting visit, which you can do on your own from Vientiane by hiring a taxi (I recommend that you ask them to wait for you at the exit to take you back to the city).

15 Essential places to see in Laos

8. Phou Khao Khouay National Park

Near Vientiene you will also find the well-known Phou Khao Khouay National Bio-Diversity Conservation Area. It is a national and protected park full of vegetation, trails, beautiful waterfalls... You can get there on your own with a taxi (I recommend that you arrange with the one to wait for you to take you back to the city).

9. Phonsavan, the best place to learn about the Laos Secret War

Phonsavan was one of the most bombed areas during the Laos Secret War. The United States between 1964 and 1973 dropped 270 million bombs on Laos, to give you an idea, it was 1 bomb every 8 minutes. And in all this, you must have a clear point, Laos was not at war. So... Why did the United States drop bombs if Laos was not at war? Well, the main reason was to cut off possible escape routes from Vietnam, thus cutting off roads. With all these bombings, around 12 thousand civilian inhabitants died.

10. Vang Vieng, one of the most curious places to see in Laos

Vang Vieng is a small town known for its partying, happy hour and tubing. The tubing that takes place in this area of ​​Laos consists of letting you float with a giant tube down the river. To which many accompany him, with a cocktail or beer in hand. Personally, I don't like party destinations. And I usually avoid them, but we finally decided to stay 2 nights in Vang Vieng and we were not wrong. Since 2012, the government increased laws on drunken tourism and the area, which had been affected by several tourist deaths, was much more controlled. Nowadays, you can do all kinds of activities in nature, not all of them related to alcohol, hiking, kayaking, paddle surfing... plus, the environment is beautiful. You can stay in small bungalows near the river and enjoy beautiful sunsets.

Posts by Vang Vieng that may interest you:

15 Essential places to see in Laos

11. Var Phou, the most important archaeological site to see in Laos

Var Phou are the archaeological site that shows the ruins of the Khemer past in Laos. It is located about 40km from Pakse and is one of the most important places to see in Laos.

The Var Phou archaeological site was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001 and the entire site reminded me a lot of the temples of Angkor Wat. In the post how to visit the Var Phou archaeological site you will find a guide to visiting the site from Pakse.

12. Cruise the Kong Lor Underground River

The Kong Lor area is an area far from all tourist places, very rural and it will take a few hours by bus to get there, but it is worth it. Here you will find the underground river that runs through the Kong Lor cave. It is 7 kilometers long, making it one of the longest underground rivers in the world. They take boat tours to navigate and visit it.

13. Pakse, one of the most interesting cities to see in Laos

Being somewhat far from the northern part of Laos, Pakse is usually excluded from many routes through the country. Although in my opinion, it is worth visiting. Wat Phuo Salao Temple, Wat Phuo Temple, Wat Pha Bat, Tang Freres Market, Talat Dao Heung Market and Bolaven Plateau are some of the essential places to see in Pakse.

Posts by Pakse that may interest you:

14. Tour the Bolaven Plateau

One of the best things to see and do in Laos is undoubtedly touring the Bolaven Plateau area. On this famous plateau you will find waterfalls, lush forests, coffee fields and small villages. One option to explore Bolaven is to do it by motorcycle. You can rent it for 1 euro per person per day. You can also rent a car and drive yourself, or rent a car with a driver. Here you have our route through Bolaven.

15 Essential places to see in Laos

15. The 4000 islands of Laos

Although there are not 4000 islands, that is how they are known. They are a group of islands in the Mekong River, near the border with Cambodia. Many of them only have a small area of ​​land, without any buildings. But others, the largest, offer various accommodations and all kinds of activities to spend a few days relaxing and disconnecting. In this area, there are quite a few freshwater dolphins and you can kayak while enjoying these playful animals that are seen very frequently.


I hope you enjoy your trip to Laos and that this article has been useful to you. You can continue readingmany more related articles on the blog.

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A hug and see you soon!


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