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Laos is one of the most sparsely populated countries in Asia, and for a long time it was isolated from the rest of the world until the borders were opened in 1990, and tourism commenced. It’s a diverse country with interesting people, and it’s inexpensive to travel here.
It’s relatively easy to travel around Laos. You can do this using public transport such as buses, or a taxi. And because it’s remarkably cheap, you can even hire a car with a driver. Which is perfect for a day tour.
Laos is also less congested than other countries in Asia. Laos is a favorite among Southeast Asian enthusiasts. But what’s most striking about Laos are the hinterlands. There are mountainous areas inhabited by interesting people, whose lives have changed little since the borders opened.
I have also traveled to Laos and experienced that Laos has its own atmosphere. And very good food. These are the best things to see and do when you travel to Laos. With a nice mix of culture and nature.
Luang Prabang is the most atmospheric city on the Nam Khan River. It is still popular with backpackers, although you also see many group trips here. The town is located between the mountains and is perfect for a number of excursions. Including the famous Kuang Si Waterfall.
There are also several markets where your senses are working overtime. At the morning market, you see a lot of food, such as vegetables, fruit and meat products. The night market offers more clothes. Another excursion is to the Pak Ou Caves, although it is actually more of a hole in the rocks. Not really worthwhile, according to many.
The Bolaven Plateau is best known for its many waterfalls. Including the spectacular Tad Fane, where the water drops down in two jets. The other waterfalls also have wonderful names. Such as Tad Taket, Tad Lo, and the Tad e Tu waterfall. The remote Tad Champee is also magical. And very peaceful.
This area has hardly been discovered. Take your time here to explore the rich area. You can make great treks here. But you can also ride the popular Bolaven Loop with a scooter in 2 to 3 days.
Vang Vieng is one of the most beautifully situated villages in Laos. It was once a backpacker’s paradise. Tubing was popular here. Where you floated down the river in a rubber band. After some fatal accidents with drunk tourists, this has been severely curtailed. It is still possible, but with many more rules.
You can see the steep limestone rocks everywhere here. With often rice fields in between. Some of those rocks have caves for you to discover. Partly for this reason, walking is now popular in Vang Vieng. You can also take a hot air balloon up here, so you can see the impressive landscape from above. A popular excursion in the Blue Lagoon Cave. Be aware that popular also means that it can get crowded here.
The temple dates back to the 9th century and was even the capital of the Khmer Empire for a while. One of the most notable attractions is the Crocodile Stone. Here you see a sculpture of a crocodile in a large stone. According to archaeologists, it may even be a place where people were sacrificed every year.
This abandoned temple is located at an altitude of 1,400 meters, on the banks of the Mekong. Since 2001, Wat Phou has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can easily visit Wat Phou.
Vientane is the capital of Laos and probably where you will land. It is a nice city to acclimatize for a while. You can visit various temples. The most famous is the Pha That Luang. This is a golden 16th-century Buddhist stupa. It is easy to reach by bicycle, which you can rent anywhere. Of course, you can also take a tuk-tuk.
Patuxai is a wonderful triumphal arch, resembling the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It was built around 1960 and has a nice view from the top. You have to pay some small change to access the top. The Vientiane Night Market is perfect to end a day.
You can travel Laos all year round. However, there is a season that is more pleasant for traveling. The best time to visit Laos is the months of November to March. This is the dry season when it is not too hot.
From February onwards it gets warmer. April is known as the hottest month. Then traveling is very difficult, but relaxing in a quiet village is possible.