‘Where is Laos?’ is the most often asked question when I tell somebody that I am from Laos. Well, you cannot be blamed because you don’t know about this small country with more than 7 million people locating inside the unspoiled corner of the world.
Searching no further, we are going to give you the answer within this article; and moreover, you can find 10 best places to visit in Laos.
First, we will see what we are going to read.
Where is Laos? The most often asked question!
Laos is located in the center of Southeast Asian peninsula, the geographic coordinates are 1800 N and 10500 E.
Quite hard to imagine? Let me make it easier. The neighboring countries of Laos includes China, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar.
Still complicated? Check the below Google Maps (you can zoom in/out for more information)
The Mekong River forms a large part of its western boundary with Thailand which extends for 1,835-kilometres, north-western boundary with Myanmar for a stretch of 236 kilometres, and southern boundary with Cambodia (535 kilometres).
Whereas mountains form most of the eastern border with Vietnam (the longest border) which extends for 2,337 kilometres, and northern border with China for a stretch of 508 kilometres.
The Mekong River, the longest river in Southeast Asia, the 7th-longest in Asia and the 12th-longest river in the world. Its estimated length is 4,350 km.
It flows through the entire Laos, from the north (Luang Namtha province) through to the south most province of Champasak before it drains into the South China Sea after passing through Cambodia and southern Vietnam.
Laos has the greatest share of the Mekong River. It is important to the country as its people depends on the river for their food and water supply.
Laos is a completely landlocked country, with a total area of 236,800 sq kilometres of which 6,000 sq kilometres is water, the rest (230,800 sq kilometres) is land.
About 70% of the land is mountainous which widely covered by largely unspoiled diverse and rich tropical and sub-tropical forest.
The thickly forested landscape consists mostly of rugged mountains in the north and with some plains and plateaus in the south.
The highest point in the country is Phou Bia (“Phou” Lao word for mountain), reaching 2,820 metres (9,252 feet), that is located in Xiang Khuang province in the north of Laos, and the lowest point is along the Mekong River at 70 metre (229 feet).
Top 10 places to visit in Laos
Beautiful Laos is one of the prettiest countries in Southeast Asia but also one of the least visited. This is a real shame as Laos has just as much to offer travelers as other big-hitter countries like Thailand or Vietnam.
The country is small and landlocked so it has no coastline, but it is known for its spectacular limestone mountains which offer you amazing opportunities to go trekking and explore eerie karst formations and caves.
As well as its mountains, Laos is known for its forest and its waterfalls and you can also try the delicious local food which has Thai and Indian influences.
If you are looking for a real adventure in Southeast Asia then Laos makes it possible and still feels as if you are going off the beaten track, even in the main cities like Vientiane or Luang Prabang.
Take a short break with the inspiring video before reading further down with Top 10 best places to visit in Laos…
The most popular place to visit in Laos, Luang Prabang is an historic city that once served as the capital of the Kingdom of Laos.
Located at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, the city has numerous Buddhist temples and monasteries, with monks walking through the city collecting alms in the morning.
There are several waterfalls nearby, some of which offer elephant rides to visitors.
A night market at the end of the town’s main street is a good place to buy souvenirs. Adventuresome eaters might want to try fried Mekong River moss, which is a local delicacy.
Below is the video about Luang Prabang travel
Vientiane is the charming capital of Laos and even though this is technically a capital city, it still feels like a small town rather than anything else.
Vientiane used to be a former French trading post during the colonial period, and as a result it has a delightful old French quarter that you can explore.
As you walk around you will also find a plethora of French inspired architecture such as a Laotian version of the famous Arc de Triomphe in Paris known as Patuxai.
There are also other attractions that are well worth a visit such as sprawling local markets and temples like Wat Si Saket which is the oldest of its kind in Vientiane.
The below video is about the beauties of Vientiane
Phonsavan & Plain of Jars
Phonsavan actually means ‘Hills of Paradise’ in the Lao language and this is a great place to come if you want to see a more rural side of the country.
This part of Laos is known, rather surprisingly, for its cowboy culture and you will find real life Lao cowboys here who dress in Stetsons and rear cattle on the lush plains around Phonsavan.
This is also a good jumping off point to visit spots like the Plain of Jars which is a gorgeous natural structure that is so-named as the pillars resemble jars. The purpose of this still remains as one of the biggest mysteries in Laos
Read more on our Phonsavan & Plain of Jars Travel Guide
Wat Phou - Champasak
Set on the west banks of the Mekong, Champasak is a sleepy town sandwiched between the river and mountains. It’s primarily known for being the gateway to UNESCO World Heritage-listed Wat Phu.
Despite its location just 30 km south of Pakse, Champasak is not really on the tourist trail and this to us is a small injustice.
The town is historic and charming, with a single road running along the Mekong lined with decaying colonial manors that were once royal residences, side by side with wood-shuttered Chinese shophouses and traditional wooden homes.
Even the modern homes have zeal—the locals here seem to love painting them in wildly cheerful colours.
Wat Phou is also known as Vat Phou and is a gorgeous Khmer temple which is close to the Phu Kao Mountain in the Champasak Province of Laos.
This is a Hindu temple which was built between the 11th and 13th centuries and this would have been a strategic location in the mighty Khmer Kingdom that stretched from Angkor in neighboring Cambodia.
Nowadays you will find similar temples in style to those at Angkor which are also partially eroded by the jungles of Laos.
Bokeo Nature Reserve & Gibbon Experience
The Bokeo Nature Reserve was created to protect its population of the black-cheeked gibbon, rediscovered in 1997, which was previously thought to be extinct.
A visit to Bokeo Nature Reserve is not complete without a stay at the Gibbon Experience, an eco tourism conservation project.
Guests stay in tree houses and travel by zip line through the forests in search of the Black Gibbon. Besides the elusive black gibbon, visitors to the reserve may also see elephants, bears, tigers and wild buffalo.
The Gibbon Experience also works to rehabilitate and return to the wild animals that were captured by poachers. With mountains ranging from 1,600 to almost 5,000 feet in altitude, the reserve also is a good place to watch birds.
Check the below video to have more idea of the Gibbon Experience
Nam Et - Phou Louey NPA - Nature Trek & Nam Nern Night Safari
The Nam Nern Night Safari is a wildlife-spotlighting adventure by boat deep in the jungles of Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area, located in Houaphan Province in the northeastern Laos.
Nature trekking tour: Since 2016, Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area offer new ecotourism attractions: the wildlife conservation trekking tours!
The trekking project offers an unique opportunity to enter one of the most important wildlife habitats of the Total Protection Zone of Nam Et-Phou Louey and track wild species such as wild cats, bears and the wild dog (dhole) using camera traps which are set up along the trail and maintained by tourists.
The data from these camera traps is then incorporated into the protected area’s wildlife-monitoring program.
Visitors stay overnight in an ecolodge built and managed by an ethnic community and learn about wildlife conservation, medicinal plants, traditional agriculture and history of the Secret War.
Proceeds from the tour benefit wildlife protection and small-scale community development. This is one of the only places in the country to see wildlife, which include Sambar and barking deer, civets, porcupine, hog badger, slow loris, macaques, dhole, and Asian golden cat.
You can read more about Nam Et – Phou Louey NPA, the Nature trekking tour, and Nam Nern Night Safari HERE
Below is the promotion video about Nam Nern Night Safari
Xayabouly province & Elephant Conservation Center
Located in the west of Laos, Xayaboury is home to rugged mountains, hill tribes, pristine jungle and wild animals, including the largest number of wild elephants in Laos.
Every year in February or March, a three-day festival draws people from around the country to celebrate the importance of Laos’ national animal.
The Elephant Conservation Center acts to preserve and protect the Asian elephant, a species that is on its way to extinction.
Created in 2011 by a team of experts, its program is set up around the well-being of the animal, the reproduction, vet care, and the schooling of mahouts.
The Center only welcomes elephants that have been working in the logging industry or mass tourism, but there are also some elephants that were born because of the Baby Bonus programme, which was set up by the Center.
Our herd, today about 30 elephants big, can enjoy 530 hectares of protected forest. This large area is of great importance to the quality of life of the elephants, who consume more than 200 kg of food each day.
You can read more about the center here
Watch the below video from Elephant Conservation Center for more information
The Bolaven Plateau is one of the most beautiful places in southern Laos. You can find different naturally gorgeous things grouped together to create a fabulously enticing scene.
Locals live in peace with different ethnic groups, proud of what nature has given them. Large hills, tall trees, forests, cliffs, and ancient volcanoes, plus different local dishes make the Bolaven Plateau one of the best destinations in Laos for nature lovers.
The Bolaven Plateau is the home to some of the most amazing waterfalls in Laos including Tad Fane, Tad Lo, Tad Tayicseua, Tad Yeung, or Tad Phaseum.
Besides, this is also the home to the best tea and coffee plantation in Laos. Spend at least 3 days to explore the plateau to have the best out of what it has to offer.
The below video is about the life, nature, culture, and people of Bolaven Plateau
Oudomxay & Muang La
Oudomxay or Udomxai, also known as Muang Xay is the capital of the larger Oudomxay Province.
This town is also close to the scenic Nam Ko River Basin and is known for its gorgeous mountain ranges.
This is the largest city in the northern part of Laos and many people come here to access other parts of the country.
With that in mind however you can easily spend a few days here as the town is close to a number of famous caves which are a great place to spend some time if you like spelunking.
The below video is about Nam Kat Yorla Pa Resort, and amazing heaven in the mist of northern Laos
Only 28 kilometres north of bustling Oudomxay, Muang La is a picturesque town nestled beside the Nam Pak River, a settlement of tranquil farmland and Khmu villages wrapped by rolling mountains. Once an off-the-grid spot, it has gracefully made a name for itself, no doubt helped by the opening of a luxury Muang La Lodge
Muang La’s main attraction is the natural hot springs. Picture yourself soaking sore muscles in piping hot water while taking in the river scenery. The experience is tonic for both the body and soul—and it’s free. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Aside from the hot springs, there’s not much to do—and that’s the charm.
Head up the road, cross the bridge to the other side of the Nam Pak and stroll through the Khmu village for gentle pastoral scenes and glimpses of daily life.
Return via the endearing 10,000 kip-a-ride bamboo “ferry” built by an enterprising local.
Visit Wat Pha Singkham, a pilgrimage site home to a sacred 400-year-old Buddha, one of the most important in Laos.
Ask a local restaurant to catch and prepare fresh fish from the river. Otherwise, content yourself with rest, relaxation and taking it all in.
Here is the promotion video from Muang La Lodge
Pakbeng is located between Luang Prabang and Huay Xai and one of the main reasons that people visit is to stay overnight if you take a river trip between the two towns down the Mekong.
There is not a huge amount to do in Pakbeng but it is a lovely little spot to spend the night en route to Luang Prabang or Huay Xai.
There are a few nice restaurants in town that look out over the river and this is a great place to come for a cold beer and sunset views over the majestic Mekong.
Below is the video about cruising along the Mekong River and the town of Pakbeng
Well, whether you are a high-end tourist looking for a luxury places to rest, or an experience among the virgin green nature, Laos has it all for you.
The above list is the main idea so that you can form your general Laos travel plan. Of course, there are still plenty of hidden beauties has not been listed in the scope of this article. To keep updated with the latest Laos heaven, do not hesitate to CONTACT OUR EXPERT.
If you are a backpacker and looking for a place to hangout, check HERE