Top Things to Do in Laos

Best Destinations in Laos

1. Luang Prabang

It is a small town of antique beauty, located in a valley alongside the Mekong River. It is also the oldest town with a history of more than a thousand years and one of the popular cities in Laos. According to the study of a United Nations expert team, the city has 679 ancient buildings that worth preserving. Generally acknowledged as a city where Southeast Asian traditions and colonial styles are best preserved, Luang Prabang is like a wonderland compared with the hustle and bustle of modern city.

As the Buddhist center of the country, there are brimmed with temples and stupas. Locals are all devout Buddhist believers. Every morning, they would kneel down along the main street, waiting for monks to receive their carefully prepared food.

A Very Old Temple in Luang Prabang
A Very Old Temple in Luang Prabang

Buddha Park, Vientiane
Buddha Park in Vientiane

2. Vientiane

Vientiane is a historic city built in the 4th century BC. Since the 14th century, it has been the capital and economic center of Laos.

The streets in the city are not very wide, but the market is very lively. There are plenty of shops alongside the streets, most of which are grocery stores, restaurants, photography and clothing stores with delicate decor and peculiar characteristics. Cars, motorcycles, tricycles come and go in an endless stream. Occasionally you can see cattle carts with human-height wooden wheels.

3. Vang Vieng

Located in the middle of Vientiane and Luang Prabang, the city has picturesque scenery and simple custom. Apart from enjoying scenery, travelers can also go rafting and climbing, both of which are the amazing things in Laos. There is a river called Nam Song, which is an attractive spot for rafting and sightseeing. The city is famous for its numerous caves of karstic features, which are good places for climbing.

Travelers can not only enjoy the scenery and entertainment here, but also visit the nearby villages to experience the local life.

Nam Song River of Vang Vieng
Boat Trip over Nam Song River of Vang Vieng

4. Champasak

Champasak was once the capital of the country; now it is a leisure city with only one road, which parallel to the river, and lead to Wat Phu on the mountainside. There are beautiful sands permeated with a tranquil atmosphere along the Mekong River. Most tourism activities are concentrated at ferry piers and Wat Phu, and hotels are mainly located around the fountain.

Top 5 Attractions in Laos

1. Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang

Known as the most beautiful and magnificent temple in the city, it is built by King Setthathirat in 1560, vividly embodying the classic Luang Prabang temple architectural style. The sloping roof of the main hall is of three tiers and almost sweeps to the ground; and the front walls and beams are black and decorated with gold; the back walls outside are inlaid with vivid "Tree of Life".

Today it is one of the most important sites where Lao celebrate their New Year.

Opening hours: 8:00 - 17:00.
Tickets: 20,000 Kip (valid for two days)

Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang
Wat Xieng Thong (Golden City Temple) in Luang Prabang

The Royal Palace Museum
The Royal Palace Museum

2. Royal Palace Museum, Luang Prabang

Built in 1904, it was the royal residential palace of King Sisavang Vong and his family. Today there are many relics of the Lancang Kingdom and national precious cultural treasures, including the Phra Bang Gold Buddha - the most valuable national treasure. The museum is very luxurious; travelers can witness the glory of the royal court, chamber, study, collection room, and living room of the ancient times. Plenty of ancient paintings and historical photographs in the museum will give visitors a clear idea of the history of Laos and the customs of all ages.

Opening hours (Closed on Tuesday):
8:00 - 11:30 (enter before 11:00)
13:30 - 16:00(enter before 15:30)
Tickets: 30,000 Kip

3. Patuxay, Vientiane

Standing in the center of Vientiane and connecting the most bustling streets, it looks somewhat like the Arc de Triomphe of Paris from a distance. When viewing closely, it is very different from the latter for it was carved with Buddha statues and figures in the myths to commemorate the independence of Laos. Travelers may be interested in paintings on the ceiling and the particular design of the window frames. There is a musical fountain plaza in front, which was built by China.

Opening hours:

Patuxay  musical fountain plaza
Weekdays 8:00-16:30 18:00-20:00
Weekends 8:00-17:00 All day

Tickets: 3,000 Kip

Patuxai, Vientiane
Spectacular Patuxai

4. Pha That Luang, Vientiane

Considered as a very iconic building in Laos, it is also a holy place of Theravada Buddhism of the country, which Lao people are very proud of. Consisting of a main pagoda surrounded by 30 small towers, the stupa inside the temple looks unique with a height of 150 feet (46 meters) and a golden body. The tower looks more resplendent and magnificent in sunny evenings.

Opening hours: 8: 00-12: 00, 13: 00-16: 00
Tickets: 5,000 Kip
Tips: According to the custom, visitors should go clockwise around the tower. Besides, entry is not allowed, due to the story that the Sarira of Sakyamuni was buried under the tower.

5. Wat Phu, Champasak

It is one of the most famous monuments in Laos, listed in UNESCO World Heritage. It is said that Wat Phu compares favorably with Angkor Wat of Cambodia.

Opening hours: 8: 00-16: 30
Tickets: 30,000 Kip

Golden Wat That Luang
Golden Wat Thap Luang in Vientiane

Wat Phu
Wat Phu: UNESCO World Heritage Site in Champasak

Top Things to Do in Laos

1. Rafting

There are two kinds of rafting in Laos - Tubing and Kayaking. Travelers can rent equipments from agencies and go rafting on Nam Song River. Many bars on the riverside are available when travelers feel tired.

Cost: approximately 55,000 Kip/person for Tubing and 80,000 Kip/person for Kayaking. Waterproof bag costs about 20,000 Kip.

2. Wat Phu Day(around Jan. 20th) & Pha That Luang Day(around Nov. 15th)

Buddhism rituals as well as folk recreational activities are held at the two temples, with the participation of people from everywhere in the country.

Nam Song River of Vang Vieng
Traditional boats for rafting in Nam Song River

Hot Air Balloon Over Nam Song River
Hot Air Balloon Over Nam Song River

3. Hot-air balloon in Vang Vieng

Travelers can see the beauty of the landscape and the panorama of the city from the sky by taking hot-air balloon. It costs about $65 for 40 min.

Featured Foods

1. Khao niao: staple food of Lao, made of steamed sticky rice.
2. Rice noodles: typical Laotian breakfast, with chicken or pork.
3. French stick: a loaf with meats, eggs, vegetables and sauce in it.
4. Barbecue: grilled meat and vegetable.
5. Spring roll: steamed or fried, with shrimps, peanuts and mint leaves in it.

Further Reading: 
Laos Transportation   Useful Travel Tips