13+ Must-Have Things To Do for Your First Time in Laos

10-Jul-2019

The sleepy Laos has always been an inspiring destination among Indochina countries. Laos is not to be missed in any trip to Southeast Asia for its sublime nature beauties and richness in culture. Life in Laos is slow, the people is friendly and the food is delicious, what could you possibly want more than that of a perfect destination? Laos is also nice to first-timer visitors for its safety and easy-going atmosphere. In this article you will learn all the best things to do for first-time visitors in Laos, bonus with all necessary information and tips to make sure your trip go smoothly.

In Vientiane

The nickname given by travelers and expats ‘sleepy capital’ doesn’t necessary means that the capital is a boring destination to be discovered. Rather the opposite, Vientiane is the number one place to see and a great base for first-timers to travel Laos. Vientiane appears to be quite different from what you might expect of a capital city: loud noises, traffic jams, skyscrapers…. Laos’s capital has this slow rhythm to it with a pleasantly relaxing atmosphere. For a trip to Laos, Vientiane is a perfect start. Here are things to do in Vientiane:

vientiane

1. Take picture of Arc de Triomphe: Patuxai

Influenced by the French, Laos has their own Arc de Triomphe built to commemorate the people who fought and died in the battle against the French and the wars after. With a twist of Lao own architecture traits, Patuxai is a great sight to behold in the capital of Laos. 

- Opening hours: 8:00am - 16:30pm Mon – Fri | 8:00am - 17:00 pm Sat - Sun

- Location: Thanon Lane Xang

- Entrance fee: 3,000kip / USD $.40

2. Visit the Buddha Park

Buddha Park or ‘Spirit City’, located 25 kilometers from the capital, can make a great short day trip from Vientiane. You’ll see a bizarre park filled with several concrete statues of humans, animals and demons from Buddhist and Hindu mythology. A reclining Buddha statue in 120m long is highlight of the park.

- Opening hours: 8:00am - 17:00pm every day

- Location: Thanon Tha Deua

- Entrance fee: 1500kip per person

3. Learn about the secret war in COPE Center

Not that many people knew about the secret war in Laos where Americans dropped a number of bombs than that of the World War II combined. Till todays, the war still affects the lives of Lao people so deeply that people are still being killed by the unexploded bombs.
things to do in laos for first-time

- Opening hours: 9:00am - 18:00 pm everyday

- Location: Boulevard Khouvieng, Vientiane, Laos

- Entrance fee: Free, though donations are appreciated

4. Enter the world of colors at Lao Textile Museum

If you are infatuated with all things textiles, then you should visit Lao Textile Museum where the whole Lao textile culture is displayed: antique textile, the weaving equipment, and a variety of designs. Just take a tuk-tuk and you can get there easily.

- Opening hours: 9:00am - 16:00pm daily

- Location: 151, Nongthatai Village, Chanthaboury District

- Entrance Fee: 30,000 kip / USD $3.60

5. Pha That Luang – World Heritage

If you come to Vientiane, Pha That Luang – a pagoda with a gold covered stupa, is a must-do thing. Proved to be existed back to 3rd century BC, Pha Tha Luong has been recognized as an important cultural monument of not only Vientiane but also of all Laos. Most highlighted feature beside the golden stupa is the giant reclining Buddha golden statue.

- Location: That Luang Stupa, Vientiane

- How to get there: The easiest way from central Vientiane is via tuk tuk

- Phat That Luang entrance fee: 5,000kip for foreigners

6. Get the most of Luang Prabang Experience

As a world heritage, Luang Prabang cannot be missed in your first trip to Laos. The glimmering temples and French architecture dot Old Quarter of Luang Prabang with their majestic, ancient and regal beauties. Nested in between two rivers and mountains in the backdrop, Luang Prabang offers plenty of natural sites to be discovered. But the thing you will enjoy the most in this city is the peaceful atmosphere and slow pace of daily life.

In Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng is the best place in Laos to have a good time - not just the landscape is magnificent but also there're a lot activities you can enjoy here.

vang vieng

7. Tubing in Vang Vieng

One of the fun and quite challenging things to do in Laos for young travelers. You might probably heard about tubing in Vang Vieng – both the fun and the danger. Good news is in recent years, tubing has become much safer for the travelers. For those who are looking for a bit of thrill in Laos, Vang Vieng is the way to go.

*How to start tubing in Vang Vieng:

- Rent a rubber tube in town for 55,000 kip and deposit 60,000kip (get back the deposit when you return the tube by 6:00PM)

- Get on a tuk-tuk heading to the upstream of Nam Song River – stating point of the tubing route

- Jump in your tube and start floating, start partying at the bars and have fun

*Tips for tubing in Vang Vieng:

There are two routes open for tubing: red and yellow/white. The only difference is where you start on the river:
- Red Tubes: start at the south
- Yellow/White Tubes: start at the north of the river, floating south
- Don’t drink before you tube
- Use waterproof bags for your camera/gopro
- Leave your shoes at home

8. Jump in the Blue Lagoon

Besides Iceland, Laos also has its own Blue Lagoon where you can jump into an incredible blue swimming pools. Not only one, Vang Vieng has three blue Lagoons which are all parts of a packaged tour, combined of caving, swimming, hiking and tubing. Dry season is the time these swimming holes get the prettiest color. Covered by big trees, travelers can climb up the trees’ branches and the rope swings easily and jump down.

Road to the Blue Lagoon is quite a challenge for trekkers since you have to go through a cave to reach these pools. But it’s really worth the effort!

9. Go Kayaking in Vang Vieng

Nam Song River inspires so many things to do in Vang Vieng, one of them is kayaking. There’s no better way to enjoy the scenic landscape and wilderness of Vang Vieng than kayaking along this poetic river. To do this, you can book a half day tour from any company in town for about 100,000 Kip, about a little more than $10. This tour takes you a few hours, offering some nice stops on the way where you can enjoy a BeerLao.

10. Take in the landscape at Phangern Mount Viewpoint

Right in Vang Vieng you can enjoy magnificent view of nature – Phangern Mount Viewpoint is the place to go, located just 4.5km from Vang Vieng Town. Trekking to Phangern Mount is a must thing to do in Vang Vieng for first-timers who love adventures.

11. Visit the Plain of Jars in Xiang Khoang

Get to Plain of Jars in Xiang Khoang to enjoy a little twist of enigma and mystery. Plain of Jars is truly one of the kind attraction in Lao that should be on every traveler’s list. Located on a large area around Phonsavan, a sight of hundreds of stone jars made from granite and sandstone will arouse your curiosity.  The purpose of these jars is still to be debated – one opinion supports that the jars were made to store wine while some think they were to keep the dead.

- Tips: only walk on the known routes to avoid UXO
- Opening hours: all year around
- Location: Around Phonsavan. Site 1: 15km southwest of Phonsavan, Site 2: 25km south of Phonsavan and Site 3: 35km southeast of Phonsavan.

12. Try Lao-Lao in Ban Xang Hai

Lao-Lao, besides Beerlao, is a staple drink in Laos. This drink is most famous in Ban Xang Hai village where the villagers attract tourists with their Lao-Lao making skills. Basically, Lao-Lao is made from fermented sticky rice, distillated by boiling. A bottle of Lao-Lao can make a wonderful gift to bring back home.

13. Admire the nature wonder of '4000 Islands' Si Phan Don

As a matter of fact, Laos doesn't have coastline, but it has the land of 4000 islands which offer a dramatic yet idyllic natural landscape. Located at the southernmost province Champasak of Laos, Si Phan Don is where Mekong river flows out of Laos and into Cambodia.

Come to Si Phan Don, you'll have chance to see the most impressive set of islands and if it's rainy season, you'll see the river expands to 14 kilometers while its flow blocked by Khone Falls making it fierce and dramatic sight to see. Si Phan Don is also home to a group of 50 Irrawaddy dolphins, often seen at the downstream of Khone Falls.

Other than Khone Phapheng and Somphamit Falls, you can also take a visit to the nearby islands Don Det, Don Khon, Don Khong  to see more of the daily life of the dwellers here.

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