Things not to miss

updated 9/1/2021
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#01 A slow boat down the Mekong

The lifeline of this landlocked nation, the Mekong figures in every visit to Laos, supplying the fish for dinner, a stunning array of sunsets and a route to travel along.

Mekong river, Luang Prabang port in Laos © i viewfinder/Shutterstock

#02 Phongsali

Head into the far north to this untouristy town, from where you can explore the beautiful surrounding countryside.

Akha village in Phongsali, Laos © Shutterstock

#03 Plain of Jars

Ancient funerary urns, the remnants of a lost civilization, lie scattered across the heart of the northeast.

© Shutterstock

#04 Waterfalls of the Bolaven Plateau

A series of spectacular waterfalls set among lush forest.

© worawut charoen/Shutterstock

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#05 Luang Prabang

At the confluence of the Mekong and the Nam Khan, Laos’s most enchanting city boasts atmospheric temples and a variety of excursions.

Luang Prabang monk © gg-foto/Shutterstock

#06 Lao food

Fiery and crammed with herbs, Lao food is a delight to discover – and there’s excellent Beer Lao to wash it down.

Prawn Amok © sakadaphoto/Shutterstock

#07 Vang Vieng

Best known for its tubing and backpacker scene, Vang Vieng is also a great place for outdoor adventures.

© Iwanami Photos/Shutterstock

#08 Trekking

Rugged mountain forests set the scene for hikers seeking to explore the remote hill villages of the north.

© Pheerasak Jomnuy/Shutterstock

#09 The Nam Ou

This tropical waterway in the mountainous north passes through some of the country’s most inspiring scenery.

© lkunl/Shutterstock

#10 Colonial shophouses

French–Indochinese shophouses add character to city streets in Mekong River towns, such as Savannakhet.

© Gerardo C.Lerner/Shutterstock

#11 That Luang

The country’s most important religious building is best seen at sunset when the golden stupa seems to glow in the fading light.

Wat Phra That Luang, Vientiane © Gaid Kornsilapa/Shutterstock

#12 Si Phan Don

This picturesque collection of Mekong islands, close to the Cambodian border, is dotted with rustic fishing villages and is the perfect place to relax.

© Shutterstock

#13 Wat Phou

The most evocative Khmer ruin outside of Cambodia, this rambling mountainside complex dates from the sixth to twelfth centuries.

© Shutterstock

#14 Lao massage

A traditional massage at a Lao sauna is the best way to wind down and rejuvenate after a long trek. The herbal mixtures in the steam bath (and the tea) are jealously guarded secrets.

© Tong_stocker/Shutterstock

#15 Wat Xieng Thong

Spared wars, fires and overzealous restorations, the jewel of temple-rich Luang Prabang is as elegant as it is historic.

© Shutterstock

#16 Textiles

Weavers plying their craft still work the looms under their homes in the countryside, where each ethnic group is known for having its own style of textiles.

© Perfect Lazybones/Shutterstock

#17 Nong Khiaw

Straddling the Nam Ou, this is the perfect place for a few days, relaxing in a hammock or exploring the surrounding area on foot or by kayak.

Top image and above: Wonderful landscape of Nong Khiaw in Laos © taboga/Shutterstock

Travel advice for Laos

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updated 9/1/2021
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