Capital City: Vientiane
Official Language: Lao is the official language with French, Vietnamese and some English also being spoken
Welcome to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic! Laos is a place where life moves along slowly, and there’s always time for a little more exploring. Bordered by Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia, Laos offers you so much more than you ever thought possible: from mountains and jungles to remote tribal villages and ancient Buddhist caves, cosmopolitan areas with palm-shaded streets and graceful colonial buildings to ancient ruins and gleaming stupas. Authentic and unspoiled, Laos is nothing like the rest of the Southeast Asian nations. As one of the few remaining communist countries left in the world, Laos is something different altogether. Laos has only been open to tourists from 1988m which makes it such an unexplored nation, rich in things to do and great places to see. Around every corner you’ll see a little French, a little Southeast Asia and a lot of Laos present in everyday life.
Must see places in Laos
Pak Ou Caves
Tham Ting and Tham Phun are the two caves of Pak Ou that are lined with Buddha images left there over the span of hundreds of years by Buddhists worshippers.
The ancient royal city of Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is renowned for being the cultural and religious center of Laos. With 33 temple complexes and roughly 1,000 resident monks, it’s a sight not to be missed.
Plain of Jars
Near Phonsayan you’ll be amazed by the Plain of Jars with its hundreds of stone jars (some of which weigh in excess of 6 tons) that are scattered over the area. These jars are believed to have been used to ferment rice wine in the 6th century to celebrate a victory in battle.
Wat Xieng Thong
Arguably one of the most impressive temples in Laos, Wat Xieng Tong is renowned for its colored glass and gold décor.
The Wat Phu temple offers some of the most breathtaking views of the Mekong Valley. The temple was built by Khmer Hindus on top of a mountain top.
Located in Champassak, the Boloven Plateau is a great destination for elephant riding and trekking and the beautiful natural landscapes will leave you in awe.
Things to do in Laos
Take a cruise on the Mekong
A great way to see Laos is by a leisurely boat ride down the Mekong River where you’ll be able to view the temples and traditional villages as part of the amazing scenery.
See the dolphins
In Si Phan Don, also known as Four Thousand Islands, you’ll be left breathless by the sight of the largest waterfall in South East Asia, the Khone Phapheng. It’s also where you’ll be able to see the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins in their natural environment.
Take a dip
The lower pools of the Kuand Si Waterfalls, just outside of Luang Prabang is a great place to enjoy a refreshing swim. You could also head to the two hot springs of Bo Noi and Bo Yai, outside of Phonsavan, for some relaxing bathing.
Go on a temple tour
Vientiane is one of Asia’s most laid back capital cities and is home to an impressive collection of French colonial buildings and abundant Buddhist wats and stupas just waiting to be explored b avid travelers.
In Vang Vieng you can float carelessly down the Nam Song River in a rubber tube and just soak up the stunning atmosphere. Riverside bars with their zip lines and waterslides make for an extremely fun filled day out, just as long as you stay safe and sober.
Sleep in the wild
The Bokeo Nature reserve offers visitors the opportunity to stay in a tree house, which makes for one wild night that’s surely not going to be forgotten anytime soon. You can also take the zip line tour and view the Black Gibbon in its natural environment.
Best time to visit Laos
Tourists visit Laos from November to April
Laos has a hot and tropical climate. The rainy season falls between the months of May and October and also marks the hottest time of the year. The dry season runs from November to April, which is the best time to visit because temperatures are at their most comfortable this time of the year.
Did you know?
The Lao greeting phrase is “Sabaidee”
Known as The Land of a Million Elephant, Laos is one of the most underrated and unvisited countries in Asia. It’s famous for its amazing landscapes, fauna and flora.
- Sticky rice
- Pho, which is white rice noodle soup
- Laap, which is minced meat, fish or vegetables that is tossed in lime juice, garlic, onions, powdered rice and chilli and is served with sticky rice
- Tam maal hung is a Lao-style spicy shredded papaya, chilli, garlic, lime, fish sauce and palm sugar salad
- Khai Phaan is weeed from the Mekong River
- Laos women should never be touched on the head
- Because Laos is a Buddhist country, revealing clothes are unacceptable
- Always remove your shoes when entering a religious building or the home of a local
- The law requires travelers to always carry a form of identification with them, so ensure that you’ve always got your passport on you when you’re out and about to avoid fines
- Public displays of affection are totally taboo in Laos