The 10 best places to visit in Laos


Built in the 11th century in the extreme south of the country close to the border with Thailand and Cambodia is the Hindu Temple Complex of Vat Phou, or Wat Phu, meaning 'Temple Mountain'. Located at the base of mount Phu Kao the area remains the centre of Theravada Buddhism and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

10. Vat Phou


North of the capital, Vientiane, is an enormous archaeological landscape known as the Plain Of Jars. The area consists of thousands of stone jars scattered throughout the valley and foothills of the central plains. Found in clusters ranging from two or three up to several hundred at a time, the jars range between 1 metre (3.2 ft) and 3 metres (9.8 ft) high. Associated with prehistoric burial practices, the jars dating between 500 BC and 500 AD are one of the most important pre-historic sites in South East Asia.

9. Plain Of Jars


Started in 1958 just east of the capital, Vientiane, a rivers width from Thailand is the Buddha Park, a sculpture park containing over two hundred statues of animals, demons, gods and humans with most being of the Buddha himself. Notable statues include a three-storey sculpture of hell, Earth and heaven where visitors can enter through the mouth of a 3 metre (9.8 ft) tall demon head and climb a staircase through the different levels, at the top there is a viewpoint over the entire park. Another statue of note is the enormous 40 metre (130 ft) long Reclining Buddha.

8. Buddha Park


In the north of the country is the city of Luang Prabang, meaning 'Royal Buddha Image', the former capital of the Kingdom Of Laos up until as recently as 1975. With an array of unique and remarkably well preserved architecture, religious and cultural, where rural and urban developments have stood over several centuries, including the French Colonial influences during the 19th and 20th centuries, the whole of Luang Prabang has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pictured is the Royal Palace.

7. Luang Prabang


In the south of the country within the Dong Hua Sao National Bio-Diversity Conservation Area is the powerful and picturesque Tad Fane Waterfall. At it's most intense during the rainy season between July and October the swollen twin falls crash over 100 metres (328 ft) into the gorge below.

6. Tad Fane Waterfall


On a bend in the Mekong River that creates a natural border with Thailand is the capital and largest city in Laos, Vientiane. With a wealth of temples and Buddhist monuments this small capital has become a major stop off for tourists passing through the country. Unquestionably the most notable site is that of the Pha That Luang, 'The Great Stupa', a gold covered Buddhist stupa that dates back to the 3rd century, regarded as the countries most significantly important national monument, an icon of Laos Buddhism and the symbol for the country itself.

Pictured is the Pha That Luang Stupa.

5. Vientiane


Extending approximately 1,100 kilometres (680 miles) through Vietnam, the top of Cambodia and into Laos is the Annamite Mountain Range. The highest point in the range is also the highest point in Laos, the Phou Bia reaching 2,819 metres (9,248 ft) above sea level. This area of high peaks and plateaus, steep slopes, deep valleys, huge tropical forests and the weaving Mekong River make up a very special landscape for any visitor.

4. Annamite Mountains


Just south of the city of Luang Prabang is the Kuang Si Falls, an area of waterfalls and blue cascading pools. Open for swimming, walkways and bridges lead around and across the pristine waters, eventually leading visitors to the 60 metre (200 ft) main cascading waterfall.

3. Kuang Si Falls


Between the capital, Vientiane, and the city of Luang Prabang is the tourist heavy town of Vang Vieng. The town was famed among backpackers as the location to go tubing, the act of taking a rubber ring down the river, stopping at bars along the way to drink and jump into the water from purpose made wooden platforms. After a huge number of tourist deaths, in 2012 the bars were ripped down and tubing became a lot more controlled. Whether that sounds appealing or not, there's no denying that the picturesque scenery in and around Vang Vieng is some of the most spectacular in Laos, with a huge karst landscape of limestone rocks seemingly rising from the ground.

2. Vang Vieng


Between Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang on the road between Phou Koun and Kasi is a simple lookout known as the Phou Koun Observation Point. For those that know it say it's one of the most amazing natural sights they've ever seen. It's a place to just stare out across the valley and see layer upon layer of peaks beyond the imposing Phou Phachoa Mountain.

1. Phou Koun Observation Point

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