Laos Tourist Attractions
Laos shares borders with Myanmar and China to the north, Cambodia to the south, Vietnam to the east and Thailand to the west. After decades of shutting itself out from foreign influences, Laos offers a unique perspective of the traditional way of life in Southeast Asia.
Its self-imposed isolation from the rest of the world makes Laos a rare portal through which we can view how life used to be in the now-progressive Southeast Asian region, and perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the rugged Annamite highlands or the fertile lowlands of the Mekong River valley. Aside from its beautifully preserved culture, Laos boasts of lush jungles, winding rivers, indigenous village markets and the Plain of Jars archaeological site, which has been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
Laos Tourist Attractions
Vientiane is the capital city of Laos and its seat of government. As a former French Indochinese state, Vientiane has a compelling history of colonial domination and internal conflicts that have ravaged the country in the past. Despite this, the pace of life in the capital is surprisingly slow and laid-back. Vientiane (pronounced ‘Wieng Chan’ by the locals) houses several interesting Buddhist monasteries as well as bustling markets.
This ancient city has become the centerpiece of tourism in Laos, a city of majestic buildings and serene natural surroundings that has survived decades of war and revolution. UNESCO has declared Luang Prabang a World Heritage site
Plain of Jars
The Plain of Jars archaeological site is believed to be over 2,000 years old. Huge jars of mysterious origin are arranged haphazardly in over a dozen different groupings, including several hundred in five major groups. Each jar weighs about 6.6 tons and is fashioned from solid stone that does not appear to come from the area. Archaeologists believe the jars were used for burial purposes.
Ho Chi Minh Trail
Students of war history will want to visit the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which played a prominent role in two wars – it was used by the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War and by the Viet Minh in the war against the French in the fifties. The trail runs parallel to the Vietnam-Laos border and consists of a network of gravel roads and dirt paths.
Pha That Luang
The most revered national monument in Laos is a fitting representation of Buddhist religion and the country’s sovereignty. It is surrounded by a series of high walls with windows, said to be erected by King Anouvong in the early 19th century as a defense against invaders.
It is the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia and home to the rare Irrawaddy dolphins.
How to Get There
National carrier Lao Airlines, Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways have regular flights to the international airports at Vientiane and Luang Prabang. It’s actually cheaper to fly to Udon Thani in Thailand and travel via shuttle service to Vientiane, which is just 17 km away.
Tourists can also enter or exit Laos by land from/to Cambodia, China, Thailand and Vietnam, but not from/to Myanmar. The most popular tourist crossing is the Friendship Bridge across the Mekong between Nong Khai (Thailand) and Vientiane.
Traveling around Laos by air, road or river is a rewarding experience. Lao Airlines has a monopoly on domestic flights. The common ways to travel on land are by minibus, converted pickup truck, converted Soviet truck and motorized three-wheelers. Minibuses are quicker and more expensive but not necessarily better. Boats are used only as shortcuts to avoid horrible roads.