Laos, officially called the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia bordered by Burma, China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Although landlocked, Laos has become a favorite among travelers from all over.
This is a country where you can find a lovely town like Luang Prabang, and the tubing mecca Vang Vieng, that continues to grow in popularity. The country has retained much of it’s off beaten track essence and appeals to the visitor in search of seeing the uncharted sections of Asia. It has preserved its natural beauty and charm along with a rich culture. The air of mystery over this region continues to attract thrill seekers who want a dream destination. We have complied 10 must see/do adventures for you accomplish while in Laos.
Kayaking the Four Thousand Islands
Si Phan Don, or the Four Thousand Islands, is the place to kick back and relax; however this stretch has way too much to see to just spend the day in a hammock. This laid back chain of islands is one of the best places to kayak. You may choose to paddle through calm waters, or take on more challenging spots while viewing the stunning scenery and check out the villages as you meander along the river. The trips can range from a few hours to multiple days.
Ancient Khmer Temple Ruins
Indiana Jones will have nothing on you when you take a trip to the ancient Khmer temple ruins in the Champasak province; it is a must-see for that adventurous traveler. You will get the chance to explore mythical ornate crumbling temples and palaces of a bygone era situated along the Phu Pasak range. Interestingly, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Thrill seekers may head to the northern section of Laos where they can take on the Gibbon Experience. Have you ever considered flying at high speed through lush forests and valleys? How about doing it on zip lines up to 500m long? This fun three-day trip involves staying in a tree house that is only accessible by zip-line.
The government began offering climbing permits in Laos in 2002; much of the action is centered on the backpacker’s hub of Vang Vieng. Another area is Nong Kiau, which is a small settlement on the bank of the Ou River in northern Laos. You can scale the Limestone Mountains in one of the country’s prettiest landscapes.
Boating Through a 7 km Limestone Cave
One must do item on a trip to Laos is visiting Tham Kong Lo cave. This is hidden deep in the wilderness of central Laos and is an awe-inspiring limestone cave 7km long and up to 300 feet high in some places. You may hop in a small boat and navigate this vast river passage.
“100 Waterfalls” Hike
The “100 waterfalls” hike will take you through a series of cascading falls in northern Laos, which was recently discovered in 2008, and remains off most travelers’ radars. The sleepy village of Nong Khiaw is an ideal base for the trek.
Exploring Vieng Xai’s Bomb Shelter Caves
One of Laos’s most important and historical sites is the Vieng Xai cave system. In the Vietnam War, 20,000 people lived in the caves to escape the bombings. Hospitals, markets and even theatres were built in the network of 450 caves. You may experience what their life was like by taking a tour of the site where signs of its wartime past still remains.
Living as A Mahout
Elephant trekking is very popular in Laos, however, for a deeper experience, you may want to take a mahout course and learn how to ride an elephant yourself. The top spots for training are located around Luang Prabang. Here, they offer courses ranging from one to four days.
Exploring the Country by Bike
You may opt to explore Laos on two wheels. Whether you take a tour or go alone, cycling is one of the best ways to explore and take in the scenery. Meet the locals and experience remote and less accessible parts of the country.
Trek to Remote Katang Villages
Finally, hiking to the Katang villages of Dong Phu Vieng, a National Protected Area, is sure to be an unforgettable experience. After walking through sacred forest, hikers can stay with the Katang villagers and experience their way of life in contrast to the country’s population. The villagers strongly believe in spirits and visitors are taught how to avoid taboo behavior that may disturb them.
Photo by Jean-Marie Hullot. Creative Commons Attribution License