TOP TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN LAOS
World Heritage site:
Town of Luang Prabang (1995)
Vat Phou and Associated Ancient Settlements within the Champasak Cultural Landscape (2001)
- Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang is the jewel of Indochina, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995. The ancient royal city is surrounded by mountains at the junction of the Mekong and its tributary, the Khan river. In the centre of the city is Mount Phousi with stunning views of the surrounding temples and hills. Luang Prabang is a city where time seems to stand still. As part of the UNESCO plan, new buildings have been limited and development must be in keeping with this magical place. Luang Prabang is small, and just about everywhere can be reached by foot. Walking and traveling by bicycle is the best way to see this tiny city.
Vientiane, capital of Laos is Asia’s biggest village. Busy and hectic in comparison to the rest of the country, it is quiet compared with any other city in Asia. Vientiane, as all of Lao’s major cities, is situated on the Mekong river which forms the lifeline of the country. Vientiane is the hub for all travel in the country. The city has a population of 450,000, about 10% of the country.
Vientiane is a city full of surprises. Here you can find fields of rice and vegetables, agriculture hidden behind tree lined avenues. French Colonial architecture sits next to gilded temples. Freshly baked French bread is served next to shops selling noodle soup.
There is little modern in Vientiane. Old French colonial houses are being restored as offices and as restaurants and hotels. There are only a handful of modern buildings which sometimes look remarkably out of place in this quiet capital.
- Bokeo Province
Bokeo province is the smallest province in the country and borders Thailand and Myanmar. This is the Lao side of the ‘Golden Triangle’. The province has 34 ethnic groups, the second most ethnically diverse province in Laos. The photo shows a group of Akha (Ikaw or Kaw) people from the Golden Triangle area taken in 1900.
Huay Xai is the border town with Thailand, the city is busy and prosperous.
Located in the center of Huay Xay is Chomkao Manilat temple. The view from the the temple hill over Houy Xay city,the Mekong river and surrounding mountains is a definite reward for making it up the many steps.
Located in the northern part of Laos. This mountainous province has 23 ethnic groups each with it own distinct culture, religion, language and colourful style of dress. The provincial capital , Muang Xay lies between two strings of Hmong villages.
Lao Aviation flies to Oudomxai from Vientiane – for flight information, please click here for Lao Aviation’s flight schedule.
Oudomxai can be reached overland from Luang Prabang. Oudomxay is also accessible from Bokeo and Luang Namtha Provinces. Oudomxay is an ideal base for excursions and trekking to varied sights and attractions as well as destination in its own right. Muang Xai, has one of the best produce markets in the area. Near Muang Xai, there is a waterfall, Lak Sip – Et ( located at km No 11) and hot springs near Muang La.
- Houa Phan Province
Houa Phan province is situated in the northeast of Laos and was the base of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Army activities. There are over 100 caves in the Vieng Xai district of Houa Phanh many of which were used as hideouts and bunkers during the Indochina war.
Lao Aviation flies daily to the capital Xam Neua from Vientiane – for flight information, please click here for Lao Aviation’s flight schedule.
The most famous caves in the area are:
Tham Than Souphanouvong: formerly known as Tham Phapount. In 1964, Prince Souphanouvong set up his residence in this cave. Tham Than Kaysone: formerly known as Tham Yonesong, was established for the residence of Mr. Kaysone Phomvihane. Tham Than Khamtay: was the residence of Mr. Khamtay Siphandone, consisting of many area, such as a meeting room, reception room and research room.
Other attractions include Keo Nong Vay Temple located in Xam Neua district.
Hot springs in Xam Tay district are located about 154 km away from Xam Neua the waters reach a temperature of around 40 degrees Celcius. Xam Tay waterfall is located Xam Tay district.
Saleu and Nasala villages, well known for their weaving activities, located in Xieng Kor district on the road No: 6 to Xieng Khouang province 125 km away from Xam Neua.
- Xieng Khouang Province
Xieng Khouang province is situated in the north of Laos, a province of green montains and karst limestone. Much of the province was heavily bombed during the Vietnam war and old war scrap is used in building houses throughout the province.
The capital of Xieng Khouang is Phonsavan. Situated at an altitude of 1,200m is an excellent climate. Decmber and January can be chilly so bring a light jacket or fleece for cool evenings and mornings.
- Savannakhet Town
Savannakhet town is situated on the banks of the Mekong river opposite Mukdahan in Thailand. The province bridges the country between Thailand and Vietnam and the town is a very active junction for trade between the two countries. The town itself can be easily explored by foot and has a number of interesting temples, including Vietnamese temple and school and a large Catholic church. Much of the town’s architecture is French Colonial.
- Champassak Province – Pakse
The province of Champassak is home to one of Asia’s great, but least visited temples, Wat Phu. Pakse, the capital is situated at the confluence of the Se river and the Mekong (Pakse means ‘mouth of the Se’) and is a busy trading town. The province also houses much of the Bolaven Plateau, an area that is home to a number of ethnic minorities. To the south is Si Pan Don (four thousand islands), where the Mekong reaches up to 14km wide during the rainy season and the Khone Phapeng Falls.
Pakse has a number of comfortable places to stay and is a good base from which to explore the surrounding area. The town has one of the largest markets in the region. Within Pakse is the Champassak Museum where you can see relics from Wat Phu as well as from the Bolaven Plateau.
- Attapeu Province
Attapeu Province is best known for the Bolaven Plateau, which also extends into Champassak, Salavan and Sekong provinces. The Bolaven Plateau is covered in the Champassak section – Click Here – to find out about the Bolaven Plateau. The plateau is best accessed from Pakse, in Champassak province. Attapeu province is rugged,wild and very scenic, but transportation is very difficult, especially by land in the rainy season. The town of Samakhi Xai (Attapeu) is situated in a large picturesque valley. The population of the province is more Lao Loum than the neighbouring provinces. Parts of the Ho Chi Minh Trail can be explored from Attapeu, although using a local guide is essential.