Surrounded by neighbors on all sides, this beautiful emerald country sat isolated from the rest of the world for many years, only recently emerging as a tourist destination. While the country’s tourism industry is still evolving, what it lacks in infrastructure is far outweighed by its authenticity and lack of crowds. The main draw is the city of Luang Prabang, a charming community where the pace of life is slow, sunburnt cloaks of monks fill the streets, the city bustles only during its vibrant morning and evening markets, and locals are eager to display temples so stunning they are nothing less than brilliant works of art. Further afield explore the endless wilderness with hikes offering stupendous panoramic views, caves enshrined with religious statues, and waterfalls cascading into natural pools.
If you have more than a few days to spare, consider traveling to the country’s capital, Vientiane where French colonial influence merges with traditional Lao culture, or to the south, discovering ancient temples, majestic waterfalls, renowned coffee plantations and the unspoiled lake region. Head north where the landscapes rise with thick jungles and high mountainous ridges inviting travelers to hike, kayak, and explore the wilderness dotted with small hillside villages. One of the best ways to journey north, is along the Mekong River to truly take in the magnificent scenery, learn the ways of locals living off the river and land, and possibly witness the magical Naga fireballs that periodically emerge from the water’s edge.
What’s To Love in Laos
Explore the villages of Khmu, Hmong, and Lao Lum that comprise the main ethnic groups of the country’s 49 recognized ethnicities and 240 ethnic subgroups. Get a taste of the varying cultures and customs among villagers belonging to an amalgam of traditions.
Find Solitude in a Temple
Luang Prabang boasts dozens of pristine temples with the crowning jewel being Wat Xieng Thong, a staggering masterpiece in which every inch of the temple is seemingly covered in intricate, masterful inscriptions and glistening mosaics.
Hike the Waterfalls; Enjoy the Refreshing Pools
Hike to the glorious Kuang Si Waterfall whose three-tiers cascade into a collection of natural swimming pools, with misty cobalt waters.
Get in Touch with Your Spiritual Side
Rise early to participate in giving the morning alms as the humble monks walk single file to collect your gift, a ball of rice to give them sustenance through their day or prayer and reflection.
Feed the Elephants
With over half of the Asian elephant population depleted over the span of just three generations, you can contribute to the care of these gentle giants at MandaLao's Elephant Sanctuary. Support the volunteers and 30 families who have contributed land to enable the elephants who have been rescued from poaching and the logging industry to roam freely through 200 hectares of reserve land.
Float the Mekong
Spend two glorious days floating along the Mekong River as you travel between Luang Prabang and the border of Laos and Thailand. Along the way visit local villages to discover their age-old traditions of craftsmanship and distilling whiskey, rest for the night in the tranquil town of Pakbeng, and indulge in traditional Laotian cuisine, all the while taking in the stunning scenic surrounds.
Place Your Buddha
Upstream of Luang Prabang, two caves hidden along the water’s edge are discoverable by whitewashed stairs constructed for pilgrims voyaging over the centuries to ceremoniously offer Buddha statues to the sacred site. Wander through the echoing caves whose sunken structures are now home to thousands of glistening statues that envelope its interior.
Take a Weaving Class
Visit a weaving factory where you may attend a class to learn about the production of silk and the use of natural elements to create colorful dyes for the fine textiles produced.
Steer an Ox
With some help from a local see how difficult it is to be a rice farmer as you prepare the paddy for planting.
The best time of year to visit Laos is during the cooler, dry season from late October to late March. Within this period, if you are looking to cruise along the Mekong River, the water levels are prime November through January.
If you do travel outside the drier months, keep in mind that humidity can ramp up quite dramatically after March and the end of the month brings smoke as farmers burn their fields to make way for the new agricultural season.
ypically for the type of Custom Itineraries we build, prices in Laos can run from $400 - $500 + USD per person per day, primarily dependent upon destinations, lodging, activities, time of year, and single or double occupancy. Quoted Tour prices include accommodations, guides, excursions, park entrance and conservation fees, ground transfers, all breakfasts and some meals while on excursions.
Tour proposals exclude international flights, travel insurance, and gratuities. Each proposal will detail all inclusions and exclusions for clarity.