A few decades ago, travel to Laos was often limited to those who were truly adventurous tourists, or who sought to explore cultures very different from the European or American ones. Today, the country is much more accessible and friendly to visitors. With a dense and rich jungle, friendly and hospitable locals and plenty of interesting things to do and see – especially for those who want to see less popular places – Laos is a great option for any traveler.
Today, many of those who choose to visit this country in Southeast Asia are backpackers. Less crowded roads, mountains, jungle and welcoming plains seem to be designed specifically for backpackers. Many of them come from China or Vietnam, because they can get to Laos quite easily, having to cross only a border. But for some time now, Laos has become increasingly sought after by European travelers, who choose to visit the country both on their own and through travel agencies. These companies offer full packages to visit Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia at specific intervals each year.
But what can tourists visit once they arrive in Laos?
The city of Luang Prabang. Once the capital of the country, Luang Prabang still has some of the most important sites in Laos. The city is crossed by the center of Mekong, a river bordered by forested hills. If you step up on these hills, take some of the most beautiful images of the river below, with the beautiful red roofs, golden temples and vibrant streets nearby.
Although one of the most modern cities in Laos, Luang Prabang manages to maintain its authenticity even today. It is a wonderful place for anyone new to the country, not only because it has a lot of activities and attractions to offer, but also because it is a very good introduction to the Laos culture and architecture.
Thoughut history, Luang Prabag was a royal city of nobility and Buddhist monks, but above all it was a city under French colonial influence. Luang Prabang today is a delightful fusion between Laos and France, with imposing villas, restaurants and shops, and, of course, temples and palaces. Among the most important sights here are the Royal Complex, where you can visit the Royal Palace (Haw Kham) and the Royal Buddhist Temple, Phou Si (a hill in the middle of the city that offers a wonderful view of the entire city and the surrounding area), Wat Xieng Toung (one of the oldest Buddhist temples in the country and one of the most beautiful in the world) and the Night Market.
Laos jungle. When you think of a walk through the jungle, you might think you need a machete and that you will have to go through dangerous rivers and face terrifying tigers. Although you will not actually have to make your way through the jungle, you will still get an incredible experience in the dense and rich jungle of Laos. You also have the opportunity to trek for several days through the tropical forest if that’s what you’re looking for! And, although sometimes you will meet locals, you will still have the opportunity to be alone with the nature for most part of the time!
The abundance of the jungle in this country is amazing, especially for visitors who come from very modern countries. If you are planning to embark on such a journey, it is very important to brign a map or take a local tour guide. The jungle is dense, and for someone who is not familiar with it, it can be overwhelming. Getting lost in a city can be stressful enough, but in the jungle it can actually be dangerous. Although there are clearly defined and frequented routes, it would still be good to have a map with you, so you know where you are and how to get to one of the important cities.
Si Phan Don. This is a river archipelago located around the Mekong River, composed of 4000 islands. It is crossed by an impressive waterfall. Although the area is a real wonderful masterpiece of nature, most tourists come here because, compared to large cities, the archipelago offers a variety of very cheap accommodation, and if you rent a scooter, you can explore the entire island area very quickly.
Wat Phou. Included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002, Vat Phou or Wat Phu is considered one of the oldest archaeological sites in Laos, being a ruined Hindu temple complex that embodies Khmer culture in the 5th century.
Kuang Si Waterfalls. Considered to be some of the most impressive waterfalls in the world, the Kuang Si Waterfalls in Luang Prabang Province are of outstanding natural beauty! They are located 29 kilometers from the city and are, in fact, a waterfall on three levels, whose waters flow over limestones. Below is a beautiful garden that features many chairs and areas where you can stroll around!