Laos Tourism - 2020 (50 Tours & Activities)

Laos, officially known as Laos People’s Democratic Republic (LPDR), is assured to give you a unique experience unlike any other Asian country can. With its natural beauties of caves, forests and never ending waterways, it is a dream destination for travellers seeking to connect with nature. This landlocked country is still kept preserved and free from commercialisation, unlike its neighbourhood countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and China. There is no doubt that why this place is counted among the best tourist places in Laos. However, the place is not underestimated and does see a lot of tourists flocking in through the year.

It is also one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia. Although small in size, Laos has endless offerings to keep your time running. From adventurous activities such as kayaking, cycling, zip lining, trekking to more composed sessions visiting temple and going on spiritual pilgrims, Laos can surprise you with its flourishing culture and original nature. Although popularly known as the “Land of million elephants”, Laos hardly has any elephants left there. It was initially named that by the King as the capital city was surrounded by pasteurised lands where large herds of elephants were found grazing in. These elephants were also used as a mode of transport and engines of war during ancient times.

Overtime, these gigantic animals have diminished in numbers in this region. This landlocked region was a war zone in the past with a lot of hardships. Nevertheless, the locals are extremely friendly and welcoming as long as you do not bring up sensitive topics while making conversations with them. There are a lot of aspects you need to consider carefully before planning your trip to Laos to avoid any complications during your holiday. To make your trip to Laos easier to plan and execute, here is a list of answers to the most frequently asked questions while travelling to Laos:

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  1. Travel Advice

    • It is a good thing to learn few words of the local language like Please, Thank You, I want to go to … , What is the specialty here?, etc. It will not just help you communicate with the locals but will also give you a brief knowledge about the culture of the place there.

    • You must acquire enough information that you’ll need before venturing in any new location. Don’t let the locals or any stranger mislead you.

    • Whenever you travel in a taxi, make sure you take a metered one. The drivers here have a tendency to cheat not only the tourists but also the locals here. So, be very careful, bargain and negotiate well before hiring a taxi.

    • Avoid getting into brawls with anyone here.

    • Never film or take videos without permission.

    • If you are at a religious place, do not photograph without permission.

    • Dress appropriately when visiting a religious place.

    • If you are undertaking treks, carry the necessary essentials.

    • Carry first aid with you.

    • Never roam around with too much cash in your pocket.

    • Don’t trust anyone with your valuables and cash.

    • Always have a copy of license and passport with you.

    • Keep your valuables carefully in a safe place.

  2. Drinking Laws

    The legal drinking age for drinking in Laos is 18 years. However, you may have to display your ID proof before purchasing alcohol here.


  3. Our Recommendations: What you can’t afford to miss?

    Luang Prabang

    Located in the northern Laos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a charming and a very important little town which indeed is a must visit attraction in Laos. The place has over 30 temples, erstwhile royal palaces, beautiful natural sites and the different buildings showcasing the old French colonial architecture.  


    That Luang

    Great Stupa also known as That Lang located in Vientiane is a national symbol. It also happens to be the most sacred monument in Laos. From the exterior, it looks more like a citadel which is encompassed by huge walls. It also has two two temples with a stupa. The top of the stupa is embellished with a gold leaf.  


    Vang Vieng

    Vang Vieng is an exemplary of heaven on earth. It is an important place to see in Laos and has attracted travelers for years. Usually the place is visited by young backpackers. Vang Vieng is beautified by rivers, great mountains, rice fields, limestone cliffs and the rivers. This scenic and miniscule town offers a number of interesting attractions. For those who wish to enjoy water sports like ‘tubing’, Nam Song River can be an attractive place to go.  


    Wat Si Saket

    Wat Si Saket is incredibly popular for its abbey that houses thousands of small Buddha images. Several Buddhas can be found seated here, everyday. The images vastly date from the 16th to the 19th century and come in varied range of sizes. Statues here are mostly made from bronze, wood and store. In all there are 6800 Buddhas in totality.


  4. What will like you like there?

    Food

    The native cuisine of Laos happily amalgamates the techniques and the ingredients from surrounding giants, Thailand and Vietnam. Dishes of the country are spicy and come fresh so anyone who has a chilly craving will love the food here. Besides the local fare, Laos also has kept its love for foreign food intact. The tourists find the the markets of Hanoi, Bangkok and Phnom Penh significantly saturated and difficult. To tackle this situation, Vientiane offers an opportunity for all the would-be restaurateurs. A distinguished quality of French food can also be found here. Several other restaurants are also burgeoning like spring flowers here. Recently opened restaurant Pimenton serves some of the finest sublime steaks and the authentic tapas of Spain. There are several other restaurants too that offer great food.

    Flawless wilderness

    The real extent of the biodiversity is Laos is unexplored to such an extend that scientists happened to discover a completely new specie of flying mammal in the year 2012. It is no bit surprising. Despite undergoing massive degradation for the past few decades there is still a massive area of the country that remains protected. Though monotonous, the steamy jungle might possess certain appeal amidst the snow capped mountains of the northern Laos. You can also witness the karst formations towards the center of the country. The 100 waterfalls trek is an important place to see here. It brings forth a miniscule introduction to the innumerable wonders of Laos. You can book a package tour to explore the place.   

    Relaxation and Rejuvenation

    The "backronym" for Lao PDR is Lao "Please Don't Rush. There has been a burgeoning progress in the economy however, the people (locals) here are unperturbed. It is this pace that notifies the opening hours, bus schedules as well as the different other aspects of the itinerary of the traveler from one end of the country to the other. Tourists who seek seclusion or privacy may also cherish the laid back vibe evident at the beaches. The Laos' Si Phan Don which is a Mekong River archipelago offers a number of crash courses for different adventure activities. If you are one of adventure enthusiasts, this river has a lot on offer.  

    History

    Laos is known for its imperial ambitions popular right from the Khmers of the 12th century to the 20th century anti-communist efforts of the United States. Several buildings, monuments as well as the sightseeing attractions of Laos very well depict the historic richness of the country.

    Mekong River Sunsets

    When the light of the day is dimming, you’ll find the true colors of Lao. This indeed is the best time to indulge in some of the most exotic beer of the country.  Linger around with your partner and let the sun set in the crystal clear seas of Lao


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  6. When is the best time to visit Laos?

    The best time to visit this landlocked nation is between the months of October and April as the region enjoys a warm and dry weather perfect for sightseeing and roaming around. Water levels are high during the months between November and January and thus, river travels are best during these months. If you do happen to visit during these months, do not miss the cruise rides.

  7. How to reach Laos?

    Though there are quite a few routes to get to Laos, the most common route is via Bangkok. You could fly into Bangkok Airport and further fly to Udon Thani International Airport. From here, you can take a taxi or shuttle to the Lao Border in NongKhai which costs about 300 Baht per person. As an alternative option, you could fly into Kuala Lumpur Airport and further fly to Vientiane to reach Laos.

  8. Do I need a visa for Laos? How does one get a Laos visa?

    Yes, you do require a visa for your visit to Laos. Although you can apply for a visa before hand through the Laos Consulate in New Delhi, travellers with an Indian Passport are entitled to a VOA (visa on arrival). This visa lasts for 30 days, with multiple entries. It is possible to extend your visa if you wish to. You are required to keep certain documents ready for your visa, such as: Valid Passport, Bank statements, etc. The fee for the Visa costs about USD 30 (INR 1960), this can also be paid in Thai Baht.

  9. What is the currency of Laos and where can I get my money exchanged?

    The currency used in Laos is the Lao Kip and the code is LAK. The exchange rate for 1 USD = 8322 KIP and 1 INR = 127.35 LAK. It is always advisable to get your money exchanged at the airport as they give a good currency exchange rates. However, you can also exchange your currency at banks, money changers or ATM’s over there. Exchange of money might also be possible at the hotel you are staying at. It is important to remember that although previously USD was accepted for various transactions in Laos, it is no longer the same case.

  10. What are the things to do in Laos?

    There are various things that are unique that you can try during your trip to Laos. Some of the top activities to try during your visit are:

    • Hill Tribe Village Safari – Learn about the different tribes of the region.
    • Nam Khan River Experience – Kayaking in the river costs around INR 3200 per person
    • Take a cycling tour in Vientiane
    • Visit the beautiful Tad Sae Waterfall
    • Take the Elephant Riding Tour
  11. What is the local food of Laos? Which are the best places to taste this food?

    The Lao Cuisine is distinct from other Southeast Asian cuisines. The cuisine has many regional variations depending on the local ingredients found in each place. The main staple of the region is sticky rice and the other traditional dish that goes along with it is the larb, a spicy marinated and cooked fish or meat. Some of the best places in Laos to try the local cuisine are:

    • Khop Chai Deu – at Rue Setthathilath
    • Lao Kitchen – Rue Hengboun
    • Doi Ka Noi – Sisangvong Road
  12. What is the best public transport to commute around Laos?

    It is easy to move around Laos with their public transport. The modes of transport available here are:

    • Bus – Only available in Vientiane along a few routes. Not used much.
    • Tuk Tuk – there are different types of tuk tuks available and you can choose one depending on the number of people going to take the ride. It is probably the cheapest mode of transport around there and fares can also be bargained if they do not have a meter. It is found all over the place and is the most commonly used transport.
    • Taxi – Taxis can be arranged by the trip, by the hour or by the day and prices can be negotiated accordingly.
  13. Do I need to have any vaccinations before the trip to Laos?

    Yes there are some vaccinations that are advisable to take before your trip to Laos. The ones recommended are: Hepatitis A; Poliomyelitis; Tetanus; Typhoid, Cholera; Hepatitis B; Japanese Encephalitis; Rabies. For travellers arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission, yellow fever vaccination certificate is required.

  14. What is the local language in Laos and which are the most commonly used greetings?

    The local language spoken in Laos is Lao. Here are some common phrases that you can use during your visit:

    • Hello - Sabaidi
    • Thank you – khob chai
    • Good morning – sa bai di ton sao
    • What is the price of – lakha ni aemnjang?
    • How far is – niaemn aenuadai?
    • How are you – sa bai di bo?
  15. Which are the best shopping places in Laos and what are they famous for?

    You will be surprised by the variety of shopping that you can do in a small place like Laos. Some of the best places to shop and things you can buy are:

    • Vientiane Night market – clothes, electronics, artworks, etc
    • Carol Cassidy Lao Textiles – woven arts, clothing, etc
    • Talat Sao Morning market – wooden carvings
    • Oot Ni Gallery – paintings, silverware, ornaments
    • Vangtong evening market – varieties of food
    • Little house cafe – handicraft boutique
    • La Cave Wine shop- Wine
  16. Here are the best tips Thrillophilia has to offer for your trip to Laos:

    • Get your vaccinations taken before the trip.
    • Topics on war, violence or the government are sensitive topics and thus do try avoiding these topics.
    • There are not plenty of hotels, and this book well in advance if travelling during the peak season.
    • Do not miss the Laos Coffee, it is very popular!
    • ATM’s charge a hefty fee, thus withdraw as much as possible per withdrawal and make your withdrawals minimum.
    • Laos KIP is not worth much anywhere outside the country, thus use all your LAK before departing.
    • Negotiate fares with taxis and tuk tuks
    • Carry bottled water with you as tap water is unsafe for drinking.
    • Mosquitoes are a common problem in Laos and there has been quite some dengue cases. Take precautions for the same.
  17. Which are famous islands to visit in Laos?

    Laos has some popular island destinations that you can visit during your trip there. You could also use this opportunity of visiting islands by the cruise. The most famous ones are:

    • Si Phan Don – group of islands, also known as the 4000 islands.
    • Khong island
    • Don Kho
    • Don Som
  18. How is nightlife in Laos? Which are the best places to enjoy nightlife?

    Lao’s nightlife is unlike most other places. The place has a city wide curfew and thus you will find almost everything shut by 11:30 PM. However, while you might not witness some very happening club life over there, you can definitely experience a chill evening with beers at a couple of bars with great views. There are also some hideouts for a little longer night scene, however you need to be extremely cautious of your surroundings. The best places to enjoy the night would be:

    • Beer Lao – Cheap but quality beer can be found here.
    • Bor Pen Nyang – Popular for hosting locals as well as travellers at its rooftop bar with a great view.
  19. Which are the best cruise options available in Laos?

    With several small islands and Laos itself being a landlocked country, there are many cruise options available in and around the place. However, it is important to choose the best of them all to experience Laos culture and scenery to its best. The best cruise option available at Laos is undoubtedly the Mekong cruise. This cruise has multiple route options and you can choose the one that best suits you.

  20. Which are the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Laos?

    Laos being a small place consists of more natural beauty than man-made architectural sites. Nevertheless, two places of Lao have made it on the list of UNESCO’s world heritage sites and they are:

    • Town of Luang Prabang.
    • Vat phou and associated Ancient settlements within the Champasak Cultural Landscape.
  21. What kind of water sports can be done in Laos?

    Being a landlocked country, there is water on all sides to the place. However, Laos is famous for more water activities than water sports. Some water activities that you must try when you are there are:

    • Kayaking – Mekong river
    • Canoeing
    • White water rafting

    There are numerous groups that are available to arrange for the same. You could also check with your hotel for similar tour packages and options.

  22. Which are some romantic places in Laos for honeymoon?

    There are some beautiful places where you can spend time with your loved ones during your honeymoon in Laos. Some of them are:

    • Town of Luang Prabhang
    • Si Phan Don
    • Tham Kong Lo
    • Kuang Si waterfall
    • Vang Vieng
    • Muang Ngoi Neua – natural habitat and isolated, perfect for couples.
    • The Mekong river
  23. Where can I get best caving experience in Laos?

    Laos has plenty of caves that you can explore. They are all so unique and have beautiful views to offer. Some of the best caving experiences that you can have in Laos are:

    • Ride through the dark Tham Kong Lor Cave – largest in the country
    • Tham Chom Ong Cave – second largest in the country
    • Tham Khoun Xe Cave – largest sustained river passages, with beautiful structures used to decorate.
    • Pak Ou Caves- It is a Buddha cave with many images and structures of Buddha.
    • Vieng Xai – has numerous caves to explore within this segment.
  24. Which are the best trekking routes in Laos?

    Laos has numerous trekking trails with great views. Some of the best trekking routes in Laos are:

    • Don Det Don Khon. Mekong. Laos Sonicwarrior - easy
    • Luang Prabhang temples Laos Sonicwarrior - easy
    • Bleu Lagoon. Vang Vieng. - easy
    • Thakhek Lao. - moderate
    • Tad tayosceusa - moderate
    • Xieng long – Houayfay – Tynpha – Houayyen - moderate
    • Kuang Si waterfalls route - moderate
    • Muang Ngoi Neua - easy

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