12 Essential Laos Points of Interest for Tourists
Laos is a country in Asia, smooshed in amongst Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and China. Although Laos is not a particularly large country, it is packed full of incredible things for tourists to see. Here are 12 interesting Laos points of interest if you are planning to visit the country:
1. Buddha Park
This park is located just 25 kilometres from Laos’ capital, Vientiane. Also called Xieng Khuan, meaning Spirit City, Buddha Park is a sculpture park located in a meadow. The statue park contains more than just statues of Buddha though, it also houses statues depicting a variety of religious symbols, gods, animals, and even humans.
2. Luang Prabang
The capital of Laos until 1563, Louanghphabang – usually spelled Luang Prabang in the west – is a famous city of Laos. Its name literally means “Royal Buddha Image” and it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This city captures the true heart of Laos with its well preserved cultural and religious heritage. The architecture is another fascinating reason to visit the ancient capital, as is attractive to tourists due to its having been very well maintained over the centuries.
Located in the centre of Vientiane, this monument was dedicated to those who had fought for independence from France. It was built between 1957 and 1968, and its name literally means Gate of Triumph or Victory Gate. However, originally it was simply named Anousavali, which can be translated to ‘Memory’. The structure is made of concrete and is built and decorated in traditional Laotian style.
4. Pha That Luang
This Buddhist stupa, also located in the centre of Vientiane, is considered one of the most important Laos points of interest. It is one of the most beautiful, must-see sites in Laos, as it is covered in gold. In order to maintain its beauty, and as a result of foreign invasions, the stupa has been reconstructed multiple times.
5. Vang Vieng
Just four hours north of the capital, Vang Vieng is a popular backpacker location due to the beautiful limestone mountains that surround it. Since it has become such a big tourist location, the town has made it even easier for travellers to explore and experience Laos with activities like inner tubing, zip-lining and kayaking.
6. Kuang Si Falls
Just under 30 kilometres south of Luang Prabang, this three-tiered waterfall is a common trip for tourists. It costs about 20,000 kip (the local currency), which comes out to about $3 CAD, and the experience is well worth the entrance fee. Along with the falls are beautiful pools for admiring – most of which are also open for swimming – and a lovely walking trail from which to take it all in.
7. Pak Ou Caves
Tourists can also take the short trip north from Luang Prabang to the Pak Ou caves that look out over the Mekong River. Tham Theung and Tham Ting (upper cave and lower cave) are filled with hundreds of small, wooden Buddha statues and other Buddhist figures.
8. Vat Phou
Also called Wat Phu, this ruined temple is located at the bottom of mount Phou Khao. The temple is a Hindu Khmer temple that was built somewhere in the 11th to 13th centuries, but it has been a temple site for much longer – possibly as early as the 5th century. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple itself combined with all of the other interesting things to see around it make this a Laos point of interest.
9. The Gibbon Experience
This activity is a tourism-based conservation project where tourists can spend a bit of time up in the trees of a National Park to observe and experience nature at its finest. Tourists stay in the worlds tallest treehouse and get to take part in activities like zip-lining and hiking.
Throughout their stay, tourists will be able to explore the national park, including hikes along the Nam Nga River, seeing a beautiful waterfall, and of course, experiencing gibbons – a beautiful member of the ape family that inhabit the area.
10. Bolaven Plateau
Located in southern Laos, this is a beautiful area to visit for the scenery, and for the tourist who wants to get off the beaten path a little. Known for its lovely waterfalls and villages, it is a common addition to backpackers’ itineraries.
11. Wat Xieng Thong
Another one of Laos’ prominent temples is a Buddhist temple located in Luang Prabang. The name Wat Xieng Thong translates to ‘Temple of the Golden City’, and its construction dates back to the mid-16th century.
12. Mount Phou Si
This “mountain” is located in the centre of Luang Prabang, and is a hill of 100 metres high. It is a fantastic place to watch the beautiful Laotian sunsets and catch a great view of the city – and people make the 329-step hike (to be exact) to do just that. The hill is topped by That Chomsi, a 24 metre high stupa.