Looking for the best things to do in Laos? Whilst it’s widely underrated, Laos is one of the countries in Southeast Asia that you simply cannot miss while travelling around the continent.
Although dominated by green mountains and covered in thick, tropical jungles, the country is also home to many thriving cities and bustling markets.
From temples to trekking and tea breaks, here’s my guide to the best 15 things to do in Laos.
Top 5 Places to Visit in Laos
Visit the Phra That Luang in Vientiane
One of the top activities to do in Laos involves taking a trip to the capital, Vientiane. While the city is fairly small, Vientiane is home to many temples, including the Phra That Luang national monument which attracts thousands of tourists yearly.
A day spent exploring the third century Phra That Luang Buddhist temple is well worth the elbow bashing through crowds – this temple has been reconstructed several times over the course of a thousand years to maintain the original design that reflects Lao culture.
While in Vientiane other popular temples include Wat Si Saket, Haw Phra Kaew, and the Wat Si Muang.
Take a Trip to Patuxai
Your trip to the vibrant Laos capital wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Patuxai gate. The war monument, built sometime between the 50’s and 60’s, symbolises the victory of gaining independence from France.
The monument is formed of five towers that represent coexisting with other nations along with the five Buddhist principles, and there are also four gateways with a pond by each to symbolise a lotus flower. Alongside frescos adorning the walls of Patuxai, from the top of the monument you can look out over the city.
An afternoon spent wandering the grounds of the iconic Patuxai gate offers an insight into Lao history along with the opportunity to appreciate the stunning architecture of the arch – one of the main Laos points of interest.
Explore Buddha Park
On the outskirts of Vientiane stand, sit, and lay the two hundred Hindu and Buddhist statues that form Buddha Park. This park is home to carved humans, demons, and animals alongside Buddhas and Gods.
Created in 1958 by Bunleau Sulilat and his untrained students, the Buddha Park forms one of the two meadows of sculptures (the other being Sala Keoku) in Laos completed by Sulilat.
The main Laos attractions in the park include a giant pumpkin-like sculpture with levels representing hell, earth, and heaven, and a forty metre long Buddha that’s positioned lying down.
While weaving between concrete statues and into demon mouth’s you’ll also be able to find refreshments in the nearby riverside restaurants. Exploring the sculptures scattered across the meadow that runs alongside the Mekong River is another on this list of the best things to do in Laos.
Go Tubing in Vang Vieng
Just north of the capital, in the small town of Vang Vieng, flows the beautiful Nam Song River. The deep blue-tinged river is surrounded by rocks, trees, and riverside cafes and is a spot popular with tourists for kayaking or tubing.
One of the best things to do in Laos, in my opinion, is to wedge yourself into one of the coloured rubber rings and float along the river. Here you’ll pass caves, swimming holes, and Buddhist statues positioned on rock ledges.
There’s also the option to stop off at the bars that overlook the river if you fancy a quick drink before bobbing back along the tourist speckled waters. Whether you’re after a scenic swim or a drink-paired dip in the Nam Song River, tubing in Vang Vieng is among the most unique things to do in Laos.
Visit Tham Jang
Another Laos must see, also in Vang Vieng, is the cluster of Tham Jeng caves. Once crossing the bridge that sits on top of the Nam Song River, you’ll need to climb concrete steps that lead up to the cave entrance.
Not only does the Tham Jang cave boast overlapping rock formations, but you’ll also be treated to stunning views from the top of the cave entrance – here you can look out over Vang Vieng.
Close by to Tham Jang flows a stream that is often used as a swimming hole for tourists to cool down in after exploring the caves.
Brilliant Things to See & Do in Laos During the Day
Bathe in the Hot Springs in Kasi
Found in the centre of the tropical jungle in Kasi, the natural hot springs and pools are among the top places in Laos – and well worth a visit.
Take a dip in the clear waters whilst listening to the croaks and chirps of the jungle. You have the option of staying in one of the huts that sits half swallowed by the forest, or staying for only a brief bath in the hot springs paired with a lunch of traditional Lao food.
While a trip to the hot springs in Kasi could be considered a little bit out of the way, bathing in the pools is an experience like no other in Laos.
Go Rock Climbing in Vang Vieng
There are several rock climbing spots in Vang Vieng, each offering a range of climbs with increasing difficulty. With the choice of a simple hour-or-so climb to trips spanning upwards of three days, there’s something for everyone when attempting to climb.
Depending on who you choose to climb with, you’ll be able to learn the rock climbing basics along with skills such as abseiling. If you’re after a few days of breathing in the outdoor air, breaking climb time records, and the occasional bruising, rock climbing in Vang Vieng is the thing for you.
Not feeling brave enough to climb? I love this tour to Vang Vieng that involves zip-lining and cave exploring – and while you’re there you can always add on an option to go bouldering, should you get a short, sharp dose of bravery.
After an adventure in Laos? Check out my guide to Rock Climbing in Vang Vieng
Wander the Pha Tok Caves
One of the top Laos tourist attractions can be found in the small, riverside town of Nong Khiaw – here you’ll find several caves that are definitely worth exploring while travelling around Laos.
Wandering the Pha Tok Caves, tucked away in one of the limestone mountains that line Vang Vieng, is a must. You can access the caves by crossing over bamboo bridges and climbing concrete steps that pass through sections of jungle alongside rice paddies.
Other than the two Pha Tok Caves, the Pha Kuang Cave (that spreads around three hundred metres) is another spot worth seeing while in Laos.
Hike Mount Phousi in Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang is one of the major cities to visit in Laos. While Luang Prabang is well known for its mix of both natural and historical attractions (including the Kuang Si Falls and the Wat Xieng Thong temple), one of the best things to do in the area is hike Mount Phousi.
The hill, which peaks at around one hundred metres, can be climbed in a few hours and is easy enough for beginners to hike. There are also several Buddhist shrines dotted along the way.
This spot boasts uncluttered views of sunrise and sunset, offering picturesque scenes of the town, circling rivers, and mountains that sit on the horizon.
Although slipping into mud caked boots at the crack of dawn may not sound all that appealing, if you set off early enough to climb Mount Phousi you’ll likely pass lines of monks collecting alms before experiencing the breathtaking views.
Visit the Kuang Si Falls
When it comes to Lao landmarks, none are more iconic than the Kuang Si Falls. Located south of Luang Prabang, the Kuang Si Falls flows over three tiers to around sixty metres.
Once you’ve crossed the trail that swirls to the side of the Kuang Si Falls, you’ll be able to dangle your legs from the edges of the wood bridges that arch over the falls or swim in one of the turquoise, shallow pools.
Although the area can get quite crowded with tourists in the afternoon, once arriving at the Kuang Si Falls you’ll be able to take a dip in the pools, explore the tropical jungle, and get a chance to hike part of the limestone hillside.
Go Trekking in Nam Ha National Park
Boasting thick forests, a diverse range of flora and fauna, and many different species of animals, trekking through the Nam Ha National Park is another of my top things to do in Laos.
While you have the choice of day treks to week-long trips, a visit to the Nam Ha National Park is a must-go destination while travelling around the country.
Not only does a hike through Nam Ha National Park offer the chance to explore parts of the jungle, but also you’ll be able to look out over Laos from the peaks in the area. If you trek for several days you’ll camp out in the park overnight and sleep under the stars with the cover of towering, tangled trees.
Go Hiking in Muang Ngoi
There are several areas around Muang Ngoi well worth hiking while exploring Laos. With hikes ranging in length and difficulty, trekking around Muang Ngoi offers both beginners and experienced hikers something to do in Laos.
While hiking around Muang Ngoi you’ll pass through grasslands, forests, and rivers that often open out into small towns.
It is here in these little, tucked away villages you’ll get a real sense of the culture and communities in Laos. Free from the swarms of tourists, in towns such as Ban Huay Bar and Ban Huaysen you’ll find somewhere to stay for a fraction of the price of hotels in the bigger cities.
If you’re prepared to hike for several days you’ll be able to explore all of the rustic villages scattered around the Muang Ngoi area along with having the opportunity to photograph the wildlife found in the dense, sunlit forests covering the landscape.
Photograph the Paksong Waterfalls
With not one, but six, waterfalls in and around the Paksong area, visiting Paksong is one of the best things to do in Laos if you love nature, exploring and, more importantly, love an Instagram opportunity.
Cascading over one hundred and sixty metres, the Tat Katamtok waterfall is one of the best falls in Laos. This waterfall is also part of a trail that you can trek while wandering the area.
While the Tat Cham Pee flows into a deep pool that tourists can swim in, both the Tat E-Tu and Tat Fane waterfalls are close by to several restaurants and resorts that offer spectacular views of the falls and surrounding jungle.
Whether you’d rather pass your time wandering around the winding trails that weave through the jungle and alongside the Paksong waterfalls, or would prefer to simply sip coffee from one of the cafes positioned besides the cascades, a trip to the waterfalls is highly rated on my list of the top things to see and do in Laos.
Explore Phu Chi Fa
When it comes to fun things to do in Laos, nothing beats hiking the Phu Chi Fa mountain range that spreads along the border between Laos and Thailand. It’s a spot that’s well known for its beautiful views over the country.
The surrounding area of Phu Chi Fa is mainly farmland and vineyards scattered across sloping valleys and green speckled hills – though, from the peak of the mountain, you’ll be able to see the white mist that settles along the horizon.
Once the mist clears Phu Chi Fa offers spectacular views of sunrise and sunset over Laos.
Although the winding trails and steep hike up to the summit of Phu Chi Fa can be slightly difficult to trek, it’s well worth the effort for the chance to watch the sun streak over Laos.
Cool Things to See & Do in Laos at Night
Browse the Night Market in Luang Prabang
During the day, Luang Prabang is a rather sleepy but beautiful place in Laos – though, it’s a totally different story by night. For something a little bit different, head to the buzzing night market.
Market stalls appear every night lining the four streets that join the town centre. Here you’ll be able to find handicrafts, textiles, clothing, and jewellery for low prices along with food stalls selling noodles and beer in the streets forming the night food market.
The night market is the perfect spot to mooch around after a day in Luang Prabang and is often crowded with tourists haggling with stall owners. If you’re after a souvenir for your trip to Luang Prabang, the night market is the place to pick one up.
Things to do in Laos: Practical Tips for Your Trip
You could spend months in Laos and still not have seen all the country has to offer, however, I recommend spending 7-14 days to cover all the main Laos landmarks.
Trust me – you’ll want to visit Laos between October and April, when the weather is warm and dry. However, if you’re looking to travel the country via the river, make sure you go before January when water levels are at their highest – making it a breeze to travel through the country.
Where Should I Stay in Laos?
La Seine Hotel
Located in Vientiane, La Seine Hotel offers pure indulgence in abundance. The hotel has an on-site restaurant and a rooftop bar, perfect for catching the colourful Laos sunsets.
From the rose petal-adorned bath to the huge fluffy bed waiting for you at the end of a long day exploring Laos, the rooms are as comfortable as they are beautiful.
Muangthong Boutique Hotel
This hotel may be mid-range (which, in Laos, equates to approximately $40 per night) but it’s no less luxurious than La Seine Hotel. Alongside a fully decked-out room, the hotel boasts a pool and bar where you can spend your days in total relaxation.
Recommended Tours in Laos
- Luang Prabang: Pak Ou Caves and UNESCO City Highlights Tour
- Full-Day Private Guided Pak Ou Caves & Ethnic Village Tour
- Vientiane: Private Full-day Must-See Sights & Sunset Tour
- Luang Prabang: Full-Day Pak Ou Caves and Kuang Si Waterfalls