Laos may be overlooked by visitors to its neighbors of China, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, but it is actually one of the most astonishing countries in Southeast Asia. This is truly a shame that travelers don’t pay much attention to this country, but maybe this is also the part of its charm – it feels like a hidden gem known only to some special people.
Laos is a small landlocked country where you can see spectacular mountainous landscapes, waterfalls, and forests. As this country is pretty isolated, it has preserved its laid-back vibes, so you can fully relax even in the biggest cities.
There you can enjoy not only beautiful sites but also fully experience its culture: the delicious local food, customs and traditions, splendid art and religious rituals. Make friends with locals, and let them show you their everyday life!
Get to Laos without any issues
In order to enter Laos without any issues, make sure you prepared the necessary documents: a valid passport (it should be valid at least within six months of a planned date of arrival) and a visa.
In 2019, the Lao government implemented electronic visas, so now travelers can get an online single-entry visa that stays valid for 60 days and allows visitors to enter Laos for up to 30 days for business and tourism-related purposes. It made the application process much simpler, as all you need is a few clicks and minutes.
Fill out the form on the website, cover the fee via the available payment method, and print out the Laos eVisa delivered to your email address.
Must-see places in Laos
Don’t miss these attractions while traveling across Laos!
1. Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang is the most popular tourist attraction in Laos and one of the most beautiful cities in south-east Asia. Until 1975, it was the royal capital of Laos, and now it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Royal Palace Museum, one of the most prominent places in Luang Prabang, was originally built as the residence for the king and his family. The luxurious former audience hall, meeting room, and collection room are well-preserved.
Vientiane is the capital of Laos, but it really feels like a relaxed riverfront town. It used to be a French trading post, so there are a lot of French-inspired architectural sites. Patuxai is one of the most famous examples, it is known as a Laotian version of the famous Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
Pha That Luang, on the other hand, is a sacred symbol of the Theravada Buddhist nation. Other Buddhist treasures include Wat Phra Keo Pagoda, Wat Sisaket, Wat Ong Teu, and Buddha Park.
3. Mekong River
Mekong is one of the most beautiful rivers in Southern Asia, and Laos has its greatest share. This county cannot boast about good roads, so the river is its main transport.
You can enjoy the magnificent nature and breathtaking landscapes having a boat trip from Huay Xai at the border with northern Thailand to Luang Prabang. Without a doubt, it will be one of the most exciting journeys of your life.
4. Si Phan Don
Si Phan Don is a set of 4000 islands, with Don Khon, Don Det, and Don Khong being the most famous ones. There you can explore a more rural and less touristy part of the country, and watch the rare Irrawaddy dolphin.
Si Phan Don has many majestic cascading waterfalls like the Li Phi falls sited on the North West corner of Don Khon and the Khone Phapheng falls found South of Don Khon, which is the largest waterfall in South East Asia.
5. Vang Vieng
Van Vieng is situated between Vientiane and Luang Prabang and is one of the most prominent tourist locations in Laos. In Van Vieng, you can simultaneously enjoy the tubing down Nam Song River and the lush jungle view.
This place used to have a pretty lively nightlife, but now it’s rather calm due to the actions of the local government. When in Van Vieng, don’t forget to visit Tham Phu Kham Cave, famous for its lagoon and bronze statue of the Buddha.
6. Bokeo Nature Reserve
The Bokeo Nature Reserve is well-known for its valuable work of protecting black-cheeked gibbons which were discovered again in 1997 after everyone considered them extinct.
In this park, you can take part in jungle adventures, for example, swinging on a zip. You can also watch different kinds of animals, elephants, gibbons, buffalo, tigers, and various species of avians.
7. Nong Khiaw
Nong Khiaw (you can also hear Nong Kiau) is a beautiful place in Laos that is becoming more and more popular. It is surely for you if you want to escape from the noisy cities and just enjoy the surroundings.
There are nice villages where you can bike, and you’ll also be satisfied by the places perfect for hiking and trekking. If you prefer boating, you can take a trip across Nam Ou River.
In the Lao language, Phonsavan means “Hills of Paradise”, and it’s an actual paradise for those who love the cowboy culture. There you can meet cowboys wearing Stetsons and rear cattle on the lush plains.
There is also the highest peak in Laos – Phou Bia, which height sizes 2,820 meters. Overall, tourists love Phonsavan for its green heels, pine tree forests, and vivid countryside.
9. Pak Ou Caves
You can get to Pak Ou Caves by the river, as it is situated on the Mekong river. This place is special because here you can find hundreds of miniature Buddha sculptures. They are really tiny and damaged, but it is still (maybe even more) exciting to explore these wooden Buddha figures which are all over the wall shelves.
There you see small Buddhas in different positions, from meditation to reclining (nirvana). It is believed that local people left these sculptures in caves hundreds of years ago.
If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to travel to Laos, hopefully, we’ve been able to show you just a few of the reasons why it should be at the top of your list. With its stunning natural scenery, rich culture and history, delicious food, and welcoming people, there is something for everyone in this Southeast Asian gem. And if that’s not enough incentive, getting an electronic visa is now easier than ever before- so there are no excuses! We hope to see you in Laos soon.
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.