Laos is known for mountainous terrain, French colonial architecture, hill tribe settlements and Buddhist monasteries. A great outdoor adventure destination, there’s a surprising amount of exciting things to do in Laos.
Laos has a rich history stretching back 10,000 years and is one of the world’s last remaining Communist states. You can explore ancient temples, climb karst mountains and spot exotic animals like elephants and gibbons. Best of all, the country is untainted by mass tourism.
The Best Things To Do In LaosHow do these rankings work?
1. Watch the sunrise at Phou Si in Luang Prabang
On your first morning in Luang Prabang, check out the sunrise at Phou Si Mountain. The mountain is smack-dab in the center of the city — with a climb to the top of no more than 15 minutes. Once up there, you have to pay 10,000 kip at the temple, but it’s a teensy price for the glowing view.
2. Pay a Visit to the COPE Visitor Centre
Did you know that Laos is the most bombed country on earth from the Vietnam War? From 1964-1973 the United States dropped over 260 million cluster bombs. COPE (Cooperative Orthotic & Prosthetic Enterprise) is a small museum and charity that covers the history of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Laos, the way it affects life in the country and how the work of COPE helps local bomb victims.
3. Motorbike Around the Bolaven Plateau
The Bolaven Plateau is one of the most beautiful places in southern Laos, with lush coffee plantations, waterfalls and tiny tribal villages. If you’re comfortable on a motorbike then we suggest you set off the on the four-day loop.
There’s a Big Loop (four days) and Small Loop (two days) that you can do, but you’ll need to plan it yourself as there’s very little in the way of organised tours.
4. Hike at Kuang Si Waterfalls
Head about a half-hour away from the city of Luang Prabang for a hike at Kuang Si — a glittering, sea-foam green multi-levelled waterfall. After hiking to the top, find a little blissful pond, with a tree swing hanging over the top. It’s like a hike up to heaven.
Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that a trip to Kuang Si waterfalls is one of the best things to do in Laos.
5. Go Tubing in Vang Vieng
The infamously dangerous tubing scene of Vang Vieng has changed drastically in recent years, with with government shutting down most of the river bars and swings after a sweep of tourist deaths. Now, there’s just one tubing center with only four bars on the river allowed to open at any one time.
It’s still just as fun but a lot safer and the scenery here is incredible.
6. Hit up the Luang Prabang Night Market
Every single evening, Sisavangvong Road jumps into night market-mode, closing itself off to cars, and setting up little stalls of jewelry, bags, and higher-quality souvenirs than you’d normally get in Thailand or Vietnam.
Also, the Night Market has one of the best all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffets, for just 15,000 kip. Load up, and then load up again. Eating has never been this cheap, nor this delicious.
7. Take a Boat Ride Through Kong Lor Cave
Kong Lor Cave in Khammouane Province is one of South East Asia’s geological wonders. The limestone cave was formed by the Nam Hin Bun River, and you can rent wooden boats from one of the small river villages to pass through it and explore the emerald pool inside. The river passage through the cave is also used by locals for transporting goods, including tobacco.