Holidays & Sabbaticals to Laos – In a Nutshell
This serene landlocked country offers a very different experience of Southeast Asia than its neighbours. Far less touristy and developed than Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, it’s a place for really rewarding slow travel.
Its landscapes span soaring limestone mountains, lush jungle, intricate cave systems and endless waterfalls, cut through by the meandering Mekong Delta.
But it’s the culture most come for: orange-robed monks, exquisite food, rural villages, and a gentle Buddhist calm.
Languid capital Vientiane is a perfect introduction; hire a bike and cycle to the gilded stupa, Pha That Luang and Buddha Park on its outskirts.
UNESCO-listed Luang Prabang is incomparable, with its French-colonial style and vibrant markets.
Elsewhere you can zipline through a tropical jungle, ride a moto up to the remote border with China, trek to hidden waterfalls and visit indigenous hill tribes for a truly authentic experience.
With a real focus on eco and community-based tourism, travelling here feels like discovery rather than a well-trodden path.
When & Weather – Laos
You can travel overland from neighbouring countries Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.
If you’re flying in from overseas, you’ll likely land at Vientiane or Luang Prabang’s international airports. There are no direct flights from Europe or the USA; most involve one stop.
Once you’re here, there are a few domestic airports such as Savannakhet, but most people travel around overland or on the river.
There are VIP buses plying the main routes; in the rural areas you’re more likely to see sawngthaews – converted pick-up trucks.
Who will Laos Appeal To?
The stunning natural landscapes, rich culture and easy, friendly atmosphere is particularly suited to:
- Solo travellers
- Keen Photographers
- Culture vultures
- Active travellers
- Wildlife enthusiasts
Luang Prabang is home to the country’s most luxurious hotels and outside we work with a variety of boutique B&Bs, eco lodges and simple guesthouses.
Off The Beaten Path
- Swap touristy Vang Vieng for Don Det, a laidback haven near the Cambodian border where you can tube down the Mekong River at sunrise.
- Visit Vat Phou (Wat Phu), an ancient 11thC Khmer temple complex that’s often called a mini Angkor Wat.
- Take a hot-air balloon ride over the Song River at dawn.
- Hike through unbroken emerald jungle in the north around Nong Khiaw.
- The indigenous hill tribe villages around Luang Namtha offer fascinating homestays.
- Climb the observation tower at Pung Xai in Ban Na and you may see a wild herd of Asian elephants.
- Sleep in the world’s highest treehouses in Nam Kan National Park and watch black-crested gibbons in their natural habitat.
- Freshwater dolphins leap around the Si Phan Don archipelago (4,000 Islands). Or boat along the Mekong River on the Cambodian border to spy endangered Irrawaddy dolphins.
- The Nam Et-Phou Louey forests are home to clouded leopards and wild Indochinese tiger; there are various eco-tourism options to safari through the park.
- Visit moon bears (Asiatic black bear) and sun bears (honey bears) at the sanctuary near Luang Prabang. Both are hunted vigorously in the wild for their gall bladders and bile, used in traditional medicine.
- The Bolaven Plateau is alive with giant butterflies and endangered Sarus Crane, the world’s tallest flying bird.
Laos Experiences you shouldn’t miss:
- Giving alms to saffron-robed monks at the dawn procession in Luang Prabang.
- Cycling around charming Vientiane, and visiting the golden Pha That Luang.
- Exploring the mysterious Plain of Jars.
- Riding a moto through the lush green Bolaven Plateau past traditional villages and majestic waterfalls.
- Meeting minority groups in the tropical Bokeo province.
- Trying to photograph the entire 40m-long Buddha statue in Buddha Park.
- Swimming in turquoise pools beneath the Kuang Si Waterfalls.
- Climbing Mount Phousi at sunset for a 360 panorama over Luang Prabang.
Laos is the most heavily bombed country in the world per capita. Venture off the tourist trail to the Plain of Jars (a mysterious megalithic archaeological landscape dotted with thousands of huge stone jars) and the gateway town of Phonsavan. In Phonsavan, visit and donate to the MAG International (Mines Advisory Group) visitor centre which shows a documentary of the history of the Laos bombings and the harrowing ongoing work of MAG to clear the unexploded ordnance (UXO).
Our experienced team will guide you through a number of ideas based on how you would like to experience Laos. Consider visiting Laos in combination with neighbouring countries Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar, as part of a longer South-east Asian itinerary.
Browse our gallery for inspiration and read the sample itinerary below to whet your appetite.
No matter how long you wish to travel, we’ll guide you through the planning process to ensure a trip is carefully pieced together to suit your interests, pace of travel and budget.
Contact us to start planning a holiday or sabbatical to Laos.