LAOS HIDDEN GEMS: DESTINATIONS YOU MUST EXPLORE

1179
Credit to jesskernantravels

If you’re planning to go to Southeast Asia, don’t miss Laos! There are many reasons to visit Laos. Stunning waterfalls, healthy and full of flavors food, smiley locals who will invite you home and show you around, Buddhist temples, undiscovered by ordinary travelers villages and local towns as well as affordable prices of transportation and accommodation.

Credit by Laos Tourism
Credit to Laos Tourism

Kuang Si Waterfalls. Nestled in the Laos jungle near the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre, the cascading tiers of the Kuang Si Waterfalls draw gawking onlookers seeking a little bit of serene beauty in the midst of the jungle’s cacophony. The vibrant blue waters that flow down the falls travel down through a series of pools before rejoining the flow of the jungle river. After ages of flowing over the rocks, the falls have etched deep lines into the stone creating a beautiful travertine pattern. The pools are smaller near the top of the falls, but tend to widen out nearer to the bottom eventually becoming big enough to swim in should the tropical heat inspire someone to jump in as it often does. The locals (who charge a small fee to visitors to the falls) have built out a wooden platform that visitors can take in the rushing waters from, or even dive off of in some places. Reaching the Kunag Si Falls is a bit tricky as they are pretty far off the beaten path and require a willing driver or rental. However the ubiquitous tuk-tuk drivers in the nearby town of Lunag Prabang are generally willing to take anyone interested in traveling to the falls for a nominal (if negotiable) fee. It’s well worth it to haggle your way into a ride to the falls not just to escape the heat by swimming in the pools, but also to soak in some natural beauty found few other places in the world. Source: atlasobscura.com

Credit by Nick Rains
Credit to Nick Rains

Vang Vieng. It is (in)famous for it’s crazy parties, where young “backpackers” come and do things they are not allowed to back at home. For some this may be a good idea to visit the place, but it scares many off. What many travellers don’t realise is that Vang Vieng has much more to offer than just insane parties. With an amazingly beautiful scenery, there’s a lot of cliffs for climbing, rivers for boat/tube riding, caves to be discovered and religious places to see. Don’t miss your chance to see this gem of Laos. Source: leaveyourdailyhell.com

Credit by laostourism.org
Credit to laostourism.org

Go shopping in the night market. The night market pops up every evening (starting at 5 p.m.) on the boulevard, you can’t miss it when walking the central part of Vientiane next to the Mekong. Here you can find all your awesome Laos souvenirs, and also personal care products, clothing and typical night market snacks. Locals and tourists mix, and it’s really enjoyable to search for the right color of nail polish and the perfect shampoo together with the Lao girls. Source: twomonkeystravelgroup.com

Credit by perryandjody
Credit to perryandjody

Tubing. Now it’s arguable whether this is an adventure sport or just a big drinking binge, but either way it deserves a place on this list.  Tubing is unique to Laos. For a small fee, a tube can be hired out and you basically chuck yourself in the water and whizz down the Mekong. Some genius (or madman) thought to turn it into a bar crawl and now at the start of the tubing experience and all the way along, bars scatter and haul you in to partake in drinking of quite mad proportions. Down the river you can fly off huge slides, bounce off giant inflatables and swings and generally get your heart racing. It’s often a recipe for disaster however, especially in the dry season when the river is low. Make sure you plan your trip in the wet season, when the water is high and you can drink (or not of course) and cruise down the Mekong safely in a tube. Completely random but utterly brilliant.

Credit by BackpackenInAzie
Credit to BackpackenInAzie

Luang Prabang. It is the former capital city of Laos, is currently an UNESCO World Heritage city, often missed out by many travelers. This place is an amazing example of traditional architecture and Lao urban structures. The top 3 places worth visiting in Luang Prabang is Haw Kham (the former royal palace and now national museum), Phou Si (the main hill in the city from which you have an incredible view of the whole area) and Vat Xieng Toung ( one of the oldest and most extraordinary monasteries in the city). What of the best things to do in Luang Prabang is to jump in the stunning waterfalls and explore caves. Kuang Si Falls is a massive waterfall which can be easily reached by bike or motorbike (around 25km away from the city). It looks extremely beautiful so you can spend there a couple of hours before heading to Pak Ou Caves, called by locals the “Buddha caves”. If these two attractions do not meet up to your expectations, there is also a famous Tad Thong Waterfall and Nature Trail to explore or, for example, Tad Sae Waterfalls. Source: leaveyourdailyhell.com

 

Credit by MichaelandTaylor
Credit to michaelandtaylor

The Gibbon experience. Many people enter Laos from Thailand at the Chiang Khong/Huay Xai border, but most don’t bother staying in town but instead hop on the two day slow boat to Luang Prabang. That’s a shame as they are missing out on one of the highlights of Laos and one of our favourite travel experiences. Huay Xai is a sleepy river town (Laos has a lot of these!) and we enjoyed relaxing there for a few days. It’s also the headquarters of the Gibbon Experience, a conservation project that gives visitors the opportunity to get a monkey’s eye view of the rainforest via a network of ziplines and treehouses. This is no ordinary touristy ziplining tour though – you spend two nights sleeping in treehouses in the middle of the rainforest, far away from civilisation. Source: neverendingvoyage.com