The idea of travelling to Laos as a tourist may not occur to you. It has been isolated from the world for years and has only become accessible recently. But the thing about undiscovered and unexplored destinations is that they can take you by surprise. Whether it is peace you are looking for or for some adventure, Laos is the country for you. Known as the ‘land of the million elephants,’ Laos offers quite the experience to travelers.
- Plain of Jars
The name itself is enough to make you go there. Jars are things which we use on a daily basis and we don’t even think about them. However, how plausible is it to see hundreds of jars scattered on an uninhabited land? The Plain of Jars is not just a tourist attraction, but is also a place of spookiness and mystery. The whole area is covered with stone jars of different shapes and sizes. Some are big and some others are small. All of them are plain looking except for one, which is decorated. Ongoing research about the site theorizes that the site may have been used for burials and the jars were associated with afterlife.
- Si Phan Don
If you get tired of navigating the mainland, then the Si Phan Don is the place for you. Literally translating to ‘4000 islands,’ it is a group of scenic islands on the Mekong river. Unlike the rest of Laos, the river here is wild and very difficult to navigate. The major reason behind this is the ‘Khone waterfalls,’ which stretch for about 6 miles. Just below the falls, a small section of the river houses the Irrawaddy Dolphins. Plenty of accommodation options are available on the islands of Don Khon and Don Det. The islands can be explored easily by hiring kayaks or bikes.
- Mekong River
Much has been said about the Mekong river already. It is one of the longest rivers in South East Asia with a length of almost 4350 km. Not only is the river a beauty in itself, it is also the main mode of transportation used by Laotians. The ‘Upper Mekong’ river is especially beautiful and can be viewed in all its glory by taking boat trips. Trips are easily available from Huay Xai, which is located at the Laos – Thailand border.
- Van Vieng
The Van Vieng is the place for tourists who are looking for some adventure as well as some relaxation. The riverside town is famous for the Karst Hill mountain range, which provides a mystic backdrop for the town. The mountains, composed mainly of limestone, are very popular with rock climbers and spelunkers. The various caverns and tunnels on the mountains are a delight for adventure lovers. Other than adventure on the mountains, Van Vieng is also popular with tourists for another favorite activity — tubing. This activity consists of simply getting in an inner tube and floating on the Nam Song river.
- Bokeo Nature Reserve
The Bokeo Nature Reserve is the country’s effort at preserving wildlife which is threatened with extinction. It is a protected area and is best experienced with the help of the Gibbon Experience Project. It is a project aimed at conserving the black cheeked Gibbon — Laos’ most endangered species. The project takes you through a fantastic tour of rope bridges and tree houses through the reserve and is an experience to remember.
- Tham Kong Lo Cave
The Tham Kong Lo caves are perfect for adrenaline junkies. The cave present a perfect opportunity to trekkers, rafters, and rock climbers. However, the site is also a natural attraction for its beauty. The cave is a part of the Phu Hin Bun National Park. The Nam Him Bun River passes through this cave. Another major attraction in the cave is an emerald-colored pool which the locals worship as sacred.
- Vieng Xai Caves
Caves are always interesting. They are even more interesting if they are hiding cities inside them. Laos is home to such a network of caves which served as an “underground city”. The Vieng Xai caves housed as many as 23,000 people during the Vietnam War. The caves were actually home to the communist army and were bombed by the US army while the war was going on. Not only did the caves shelter a massive number of people, they also contained shops, a movie theater, shops, bakeries and military barracks!
- Pak Ou Caves
Yes, it is another network of caves. But these caves don’t hide an entire city within their walls. The Pak Ou caves are located on the Mekong river and are easily accessible by boat and road. The caves are well known for containing miniature sculptures of the Buddha. Most of the sculptures are damaged and are very small in size. Hundreds of these figures are kept on shelves inside the caves.
- Pha That Luang
When it comes to visiting monuments in Laos, the Pha That Luang is the most important one. The term translates to “Great Stupa” in the local language. What is interesting about the monument is that each and every step represents a particular stage in Buddhist enlightenment. For example, the lowest step is a representation of the material world, whereas the one at the top represents the world of ‘nothing’. This grand monument stands on a site of yet another ancient temple, the Khmer Temple. The monument was destroyed in 1828 by Siamese invaders, but was restored to its ancient glory in 1931.
- Luang Prabang
This is the most popular destination for tourists headed to Laos. Luang Prabang is the cultural center of Laos and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was the capital of Laos till 1975, when the communists took over. A big part of the city is based on a peninsula, flanked by the Mekong and the Nam Khan rivers. Just walking down the roads and looking at the houses with gold roofs is an experience in itself. If you choose to go out at dawn, you will get to see a procession of monks walking the streets.
Originally posted 2017-04-05 06:29:03.