Welcome to Laos
Laos is a landlocked oasis of towering mountains and majestic waterfalls. Sunsets are magnificent and photo opps are aplenty.
With a painful past that continues to mar its otherwise optimistic future, Laos is a unique country filled with incredible people. This is despite being the most heavily bombed country in history.
Whether you’re up for exploring nature, partying on a tube, or backpacking, Laos is a must-visit travel destination.
Our Laos travel guide will provide all the travel tips, facts, and advice you need to make your trip to Laos unforgettable!
Laos Travel Guides
We can’t cover everything in one guide, so we’ve broken up some of our best content into comprehensive travel guides on the best things to do, itineraries, and places to stay all throughout Laos.
Things to Do in Laos
The tourism industry in Laos has grown substantially over the past few years, and despite losing some of it’s raw, edgy charm, it has made the country far more accessible for all kinds of travellers.
As a result, there’s plenty of amazing things to do in Laos. In fact, many people underestimate just how long it takes to properly experience Laos. For starters, we would recommend ensuring your Laos itinerary is at least 2-3 weeks – and that’s just to see the popular, Northern part. You’ll need at least a month for the entire country.
1. Swim in Kuang Si Falls
Found just outside the city of Luang Prabang, Kuang Si Falls are amongst the most beautiful waterfalls we’ve ever seen.
Before getting to the falls, you’ll encounter a Moon Bear sanctuary. As you follow the path, a series of incredibly blue streams of water cascade down innumerable rocky falls.
2. Stroll Through Buddha Park
Buddha Park, found in the capital city Vientiane, is aptly named. It is quite literally a huge park filled with buddhas and over 200 other Buddhist sculptures.
Despite being built in 1958, the park feels distinctly ancient. It’s probably the coolest thing to do in Vientiane, so make sure not to skip it.
To get there, take the #14 bus from the central bus terminal (or you can wave it down along the route). This is significantly cheaper than hiring a tuk tuk. Entrance fee is 15,000 kip per person.
3. Get Local in Nong Khiaw & Muang Ngoi
Luang Prabang is an awesome town filled with great food and plenty of things to do, but it is teeming with tourists.
To get off the beaten track a bit, take a 4-hour bus ride to the village of Nong Khiaw. Accommodation here is cheap and the lifestyle is laid back. Spend a couple of days here before heading up the river to the even more remote village of Muang Ngoi.
This small riverside village has been likened by other travellers to Vang Vieng, before it became the touristic hub it is today. Our biggest regret in Laos was not visiting Muang Ngoi. Don’t make the mistake we did, it sounds like one of the best things to do in Laos.
4. Adventure in Vang Vieng
Overtouristic and packed with fun activities. Party-goers and alcoholics can unite at the Nana Backpackers, then proceed to get drunk tubing through the river during the day.
Hikers and explorers will find numerous caves to tube through (sans-alcohol), as well as incredible sunset viewpoints.
The town itself didn’t have the right vibe for us, but a short walk would find you in rural Laos. You can climb up spiring rock outcrops to find amazing views. The walks or drives will take you over rivers, through communities, and past cows, buffalos, and other wildlife.
5. Relax in Don Det and 4,000 Islands
Southern Laos is often skipped by travellers, but if you’re going to Cambodia, then there’s no reason not to visit Pakse and the 4,000 Islands.
Don Det is the main island visited within the 4,000 Islands ‘archipelago’. These islands are found in the middle of the Mekong River at the southern border of Laos and Cambodia.
Despite being a landlocked country, this is the best place to visit in Laos to experience a bit of that island lifestyle. Sure, the water isn’t quite as clear as Koh Rong or Langkawi (or even close to be honest), but it is an absolutely amazing place to relax in a hammock and soak up the backpacker-local lifestyle.
To get here, you’ll most likely need to take a bus from Pakse.
Laos Travel Tips
Currency: Lao Kip
Electricity Socket: 230V AC electricity, Plug types A, B, C, E, F
Population: 7 million
Laos Visa: A Laos visa can be easily obtained on arrival. Price lists are displayed at the counter, but for most countries it will cost $30 USD, for some up to $42 USD. Bring crisp and clean United States banknotes and two passport photos.
Safety: Laos is a relatively safe country. As with other locations in southeast Asia, petty crime is prevalent in touristed areas, and violent crime has occurred throughout Laos. Do not stray from commonly-used paths or areas. Unexploded ordnance is a major threat, especially in rural locations.
Spoken Language: The official language of Laos is Lao. Some older people speak French. Some tourism operators will speak basic English, but many will not. Lao and Thai are very similar, most Lao people understand Thai.
Banks & ATMs: The main banks in Laos include BCEL, Lao Development bank, and Agricultural Promotion Bank. All ATMs charge a small fee, usually around 50k Lao Kip. The maximum withdrawal limits are typically between 1.5 million and 2 million Lao Kip. Minimize your fees when travelling with a Transferwise Mastercard.
Sim Cards: Sim cards are cheap in Laos. The best providers are Lao Telecom or Unitel, both have good coverage. Cheapest place to purchase will be an official store in a city, but they are cheap enough at airports or convenience stores.
Water: Tap water in Laos is unsafe to consume. Most hostels or hotels offer free drinking water to refill your bottles. Otherwise, bottled water is affordable at most shops.