Laos is a hidden gem among its more popular neighbours. This mountainous and landlocked country provides lush landscapes, true wilderness, rich cultural diversity and many historical sites. The stunning Southeast Asian destination is a great place for adventurous travellers.
Elephant Conservation Centre, located in Sayaboury, protects the Asian elephant, a species that is on its way to extinction. This animal sanctuary welcomes elephants that have been working in the tourism sector. The wellbeing of the animals is the priority of this rescue centre, financed almost exclusively by ecotourism activities. Volunteering at the Elephant Conservation Centre is a great opportunity to support the hospital, feed these majestic animals and assist the mahouts in their work.
You can also visit Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre. This famous bear sanctuary houses 23 Asiatic black bears rescued from poachers. The bile of these endangered species is a common component in traditional Chinese medicine. Stroll along the wooden paths and watch the adorable animals enjoying life outside a cage, climbing up and down trees, swinging in hammocks and playing with each other.
Photo: JohanW, Shutterstock
Where to stay:
In Luang Prabang, we encourage you to stay at 4* Nam Ou Riverside Hotel & Resort with excellent reviews. Sit on the bank of the Nam Ou River, this 4-star resort is a 15-minute drive to Pak Ou Cave. It offers classically furnished villas with plenty of living space. Guests can relax by the outdoor pool. Free WiFi is available in all areas. Nam Ou Riverside Hotel & Resort is a 45-minute drive to the city centre, Luang Prabang Night Market and Luang Prabang Airport. Each traditional style villas is built with woods and comes with air-conditioning, a minibar and a tea/coffee maker. A safety deposit box and an en suite bathroom are included.
In Vientiane we recommend you to book 4* S Park Design Hotel. This top rated hotel is situated just a short drive from Vientiane’s must-see destinations. This 4-star property offers a swimming pool and comfortable guestrooms equipped with air conditioning. Suitable for both business and leisure travelers, the hotel also provides free WiFi access and free parking on-site. All functional and comfortable guestrooms come with a flat-screen satellite TV, a safety deposit box and a minibar. Guests will also find complimentary drinking water as well as coffee and tea. Fitted with a bath or shower, the private bathroom includes towels, a hairdryer and free toiletries.
What to do:
Admire the picturesque rice fields of Laos. Visit an organic farm to experience the life of a farmer and sample some phenomenal food. Some farms invite visitors to help with its rice and vegetable crops and learn about sustainable practices and traditional farming methods. Take a tour to a coffee plantation to learn about the planting and roasting.
Visit Nong Khiaw, a lovely little town, surrounded by beautiful nature. It’s set at the bank of the Nam Ou River, squeezed in between into huge limestone mountains. If you like hiking, you should take the steep trail to the Ban Sop Houn viewpoint. During sunrise the valley is completely covered with clouds and it’s the best time to witness the sweeping mountain vistas.
Pay a visit to the unique Pak Ou Caves, a Buddhist sanctuary with spectacular limestone cliff faces. You can also head south to Kong Lor Cave, considered to be one of South Asia’s geological wonders. To see the emerald green pool, take a boat ride along the Nam Hin Bun River, which flows into the karst cave.
Explore the limestone mountains with dense forests and spectacular waterfalls. Take a river boat and kayak tour from Luang Prabang to Tad Sae Waterfall and the Nam Khan River. Discover the Pha Pheng waterfall, the largest in Southeast Asia.
Visit a rural village to experience Lao culture and see how indigenous people live. Peek into workshops and learn about unique Lao traditions including colourful handicrafts. Don’t forget to sample traditional rice wine.
Enjoy the natural beauty of the 4000 remote islands in the southern tip of Laos. For example, you can take a ferry to one of the three main islands: Don Khong, Don Khon, and Don Det. Pakse, the southernmost main city, is a good starting point.
In Vientiane, the old French capital, you should pay a visit to the golden Pha That Luang Stupa, Sisaket Temple, the President’s Hall, Wat Prakeo Temple and the Phatouxay monument.
Visit Buddha Park (Xieng Khuan), a sculpture park located 25 km southeast from Vientiane. It contains over 200 Hindu and Buddhist statues of humans, gods, animals, and demons. At the top of the park, there is a viewpoint where the entire park is visible.
From Vientiane you can take a day trip to Nam Ngum Lake to enjoy a piece of the countryside and visit the archaeological ruins of Vang Xang.
Discover the UNESCO World Heritage site of Wat Phu, located at the base of the Phu Kao mountain. This Buddhist temple is one of the oldest worship sites in Laos.
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