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Authored by Megan Indoe

As with any epic trip, the lead up for us was particularly exciting. Getting ready to backpack through South East Asia we anticipated visiting idyllic islands and traveling to hotspots like Angkor Wat, Chiang Mai, and Halong Bay. We would be visiting ancient temples, witnessing the sunrise over UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and losing ourselves in fairytale landscapes and fascinating histories. What to do in Laos. Things to do in Laos. 

Though of all of the truly wonderful destinations in South East Asia, and we did find a special place in our hearts for each country we visited, when it came to Laos, something unexpected happened. We both fell head over heels in love.

Maybe we favor Laos because we had no expectations for the country. Like most backpackers, we viewed Laos as a place to visit after our visas expired. A stepping stone to the next country. Though Laos proved quite quickly to be a worthy destination in it’s own right; a country which combines some of the best elements of Southeast Asia in one bite-sized destination.

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Why You Should Travel to Laos Now

On researching what to do in Laos, we couldn’t find much. The most common advice was to plan a quick visit to both Vientiane and Luang Prabang and you would be pretty much done.  We didn’t expect to stay more than two weeks.

Arriving from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, our first stop was Don Det; an island which has become a mecca for backpackers offering a laidback island lifestyle, beautiful waterfalls and $5 bungalows with river views and hammocks to enjoy the view with a cold Beer Lao. (Beer Lao may be the greatest Asian beer ever!)

Within just a few days in Laos, we already knew we weren’t going to be able to see the entire country in just one month.  For our inner adrenaline junkie there were underground river caves, white-water rapids and jungle ziplines. For our inner wildlife nut there were treks through some of Southeast Asia’s most pristine forests, still home to rare creatures. For our inner foodie there was the kaleidoscope of flavours that is Lao cuisine. What to do in Laos.

We found Laos to be one of the most authentic destinations in Asia, and 4 weeks was simply not enough time to take everything in. Though we absolutely tried. Here are 6 reasons why you should drop everything you’re doing and travel to Laos right now. Should I travel to Laos?

Simply Beautiful

The whole country of Laos is absolutely gorgeous, and everywhere you turn you find yourself surrounded by karst mountains, scenic rivers, impressive waterfalls, and numerous caves. “Away from the cities, it’s easy to make a quick detour off the beaten track and end up in a fairytale landscape with jagged limestone cliffs, brooding jungle and the snaking Mekong River as a backdrop.” How long to spend on a trip to Laos?

Laos has to be one of the most beautiful countries we visited in SE Asia, summed up perfectly by their national slogan: “simply beautiful.”

Life Moves Slower

We ended up enjoying and taking advantage of the slower lifestyle this country had to offer. We found ourselves extending our stays to relax in sleepy, beautiful villages like Nong Khiaw, Muang Ngoi, and Champasak.

There’s no better way to relax then spending your days unconnected with the hustle and bustle of the rest of the world in a hammock while enjoying stellar views. What is there to do in Laos?

Laos Adventure

Laos is an adventure capital, and has so much to offer adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers. We fell in love with country for it’s adventure during a motorbike expedition through the windy, mountainous roads to Konglor Cave. We then rode a small, motorized canoe through a dark, mysterious cave. It was both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time!

Laos allowed us to embrace our inner Indiana Jones when we jumped on a motorbike again, this time to zip around Thakhek in search of ancient caves.

Waterfall Wonderland

Heading in to Laos we knew the country had some waterfalls. But what we didn’t realize is that the whole country is practically a waterfall wonderland. Everywhere you turn there will be a waterfall waiting, one hiding around the next corner. Which waterfalls are the best in Laos?

We enjoyed getting lost in the middle of the country chasing waterfalls in the Bolaven PlateauPaksong ended up being home to some of the most impressive waterfalls we have ever seen. Waterfalls in Laos. 

We also recommend making a stop at a homestay at Tad Tayicseua where 15 known waterfalls are scattered closely through 400 acres of magical unicorn land. And, not to forget swimming in the cascading, turquoise pools of Kuang Si Waterfall where you feel like you are living in a fairy tale land near Luang Prabang. The best waterfalls in the world. Is travel to Laos safe?

The People

The Lao people are wonderfully welcoming hosts. We were saved by local strangers when our motorbike broke down in the middle of nowhere, and enjoyed spending our nights with Mr. Kong in Tad Lo enjoying the view of the local falls while sipping on cold Beer Lao.

We also formed a special bond with our local guide who taught us about the local tribes of Tad Lo’s animistic rituals, beliefs, and traditions.

We found the history of this country to be both heartbreaking and fascinating at the same time, and hearing the history of this remarkable country allowed us to appreciate the resilience of the people who live here.

We were intrigued while exploring the mysterious Stone Age monuments at the Plain of Jars in central Laos. We found ourselves in awe at UNESCO World Heritage Site Wat Phu where we experienced the ancient Khmer temple’s beauty without the insane crowds of Angkor Wat.

Affordable Laos

For us, we found ourselves at a loss for words by the unexpected beauty, hospitality, and adventure of this amazing country. We found ourselves feeling nothing but love for this beautiful place and the wonderful people who live in it.

The best part? You can totally afford to take your time exploring this gorgeous land. An epic month long adventure only cost two of us on average $50 a day or $25 a person (includes your hotel booking).

Imagine how awesome that is to have a month long vacation chasing waterfalls, exploring caves, motorbiking across a country or doing whatever you want for less than the price of your monthly rent.

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Scott and Megan are a travel writing and photography duo. They both quit their corporate jobs to pursue a life of travel together. The two funded their first year of travel together by teaching English in South Korea and plan to do repeat the same until they can find alternative ways to finance their dream lifestyle.

You can check out their adventures and videos on their blog, boboandchichi.com. Follow their latest photos and videos on Instagram.

You can also catch Scott and Megan’s adventures on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

    52 Comments

  1. Hello, great writeup,

    Have you experienced trabelling to laos from chiang mai or bangkok other than taking a flight?..
    Also have you been to ko tao island ?..
    Many thanks …best
    Barlas

    • Hi Barlas!
      Thanks for your kind words. We actually only travelled to Laos via land crossings. We took a bus from chiang Mai to Luang Prabang… It’s a pretty long ride but they make a few stops like the white temple in Thailand that make it worth while! We never went to koh Tao unfortunately.

  2. I’ve yet to make my way to Laos but since I’m so close being in Singapore, I’m going to make it a point to get out there soon. You’re post has inspired me to get out there sooner than later.

    • Marie it’s definitely worth a visit! Even if you only have a week!

  3. Cool post! Laos is not in my top destinations but after reading this post, i think i need to re-consider things and visit Laos soon! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this!

    • Thanks Ryazan! Laos is really a special place still unspoiled by too much tourism! It’s worth a visit before that all changes! 🙂

  4. For some reason, we have not made it to Laos yet. Everything that you have descried sounds exactly why we should go there soon. It is good to know that there is a lot more than both Vientiane and Luang Prabang , though I do want to visit them as well. Lovely and informative post.

    • Thanks Paula! You have to see Luang Prabang when you visit, there’s nothing else like it. Vientiane is great to pass through crossing the border and has some great food! But we found ourselves enjoying the places less visited to be our favorites. There’s definitely a lot of beauty and nature in Laos to explore!

  5. Love this post, Meg! For how many times we’ve traveled in Southeast Asia I can’t believe we haven’t been to Laos yet! I love that you had such a wonderful experience taking your time exploring more of the country. We will definitely plan for a longer stay when we go! Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

    • Thanks Jen! Laos is definitely worth exploring on your next adventure in SE Asia! We loved it so much in our first week we decided one month wasn’t enough! We ended up doing two months and don’t regret a second of it!

  6. Those waterfalls! I think I’ll be heading back to SE Asia sometime next spring…definitely going to look into Laos more now! I was a bit apprehensive the last time I was in the area, so I didn’t end up going, but after a year of travel under my belt I feel a bit braver going it alone.

    • The waterfalls are amazing! You will have to check out the Bolaven Plateau! We felt considerably comfortable and safer on Laos than we did in places like Cambida and Vietnam. Laos is full of friendly locals who are warm and welcoming to their country. Outside of Luang Prabang, Vientiane, and vang vieng you don’t feel the touristy traps or anything at all.

  7. These photos are completely stunning! I didn’t really know much about Laos but I must admit, you’ve got me convinced, how long do you think is a good amount of time to spend there for a first time explore? like a month maybe?

    • Hi Maria, thanks for the kind words. We think a month is a great amount of time to see almost all the great places in Laos. We spent two months because we had the luxury of traveling really slow at the time and crawled our way through the country. It’s hard to do less than two weeks here because it does take awhile to get around inside the country seeing that they don’t have the greatest infrastructure. But if you have the time, a full month is great!

  8. Will be paying my 2nd visit to LP in a weeks time – the most spiritual place I have ever been

    • Wilbur that’s awesome! I wish we were going back in a weeks time 🙂 Where are you planning to visit?

  9. on my to go to list 🙂

    • It’s on our go back to list! Our go to list is getting out of control 😉

  10. I have read so much about Laos and all great. Such a great place to explore and love the idea of lives moves slower.

    • Anne it really is a great place! Life is slower and the beauty of the country still remains untouched and unspoiled from mass tourism still. It really is a special place to visit and so relaxing you don’t want to leave!

  11. Great post, but I’m a bit sad now – actually, I was supposed to be in Laos right in this moment, but I couldn’t go because of unforeseen circumstances. 🙁 What a coincidence!
    I hope I can visit Laos soon by myself!

    • We are so sorry to hear that Tatiana! We hope you can visit soon too! Take care 🙂

  12. Gorgeous photos! Laos looks gorgeous–would love to go soon and this makes me want to go even more! The waterfalls look especially amazing 🙂

    • Thanks Jenna! We were actually pleasantly surprised with the waterfalls, we really weren’t expecting much and were blown away in the Bolaven Plateau! It’s so crazy how many falls they have right next to each other too…there are tons we never even saw!

  13. I’ve been to Laos only for a week (all the way down south) but should have spent more time there when I had the chance … loved it for most of the time, so will definitely be back to explore a bit more!

    • We actually fell in love with southern Laos first! It’s definitely worth revisiting and checking out the north. 🙂

  14. Having just returned from Laos I feel the same way. Somehow the country slipped through the cracks and after 5 years living in Asia and having been to all other countries I am not sure how I missed Laos! Such a stunning place and still not overrun with tourists like some other SEA countries

    • I know! There’s still and untouched feeling to it, even though there are still quite a bit of travelers through the country. Once you leave Luang Prabang and Vientiane you really feel like you’ve left the tourist trail! It won’t be that way forever!

  15. My neighbor just returned from Laos, and she also really enjoyed it. Your photos are really enticing, especially the waterfalls. Good to know it is affordable.

    • Thanks Rhonda! It really is incredible how inexpensive Laos was to travel around in. We were on a tight budget to begin with, but we had the best quality rooms for under our $10 budget/night in Laos! Sometimes we were in nicer rooms than we would get back in the States for over $100!

  16. Thank you for writing about my home country. You are right on about the people of Laos, we are one of the most welcoming people you will encounter. I miss this beautiful place And have only been able to visit 3 times in my 30 years.

    • You’re welcome Joy! And thanks for the kind words. We really had a lasting impression from the people and the beauty of your home country! We will definitely be going back!

  17. Beautiful post! Seeing so many waterfalls so close together must truly feel like a magical experience! And it is so nice to hear that the local people were so kind and helpful.

    • Thanks Mary! Yes, the waterfalls really were spectacular! We would love to go back and find more that we didn’t see. There were simply too many!

  18. Love the article about my homeland. I was there a few years ago while I was in college. We were there for a month. I loved every moment of it. It was great to see all my relatives and where I came from. Life is a lot simpler in Laos.

    • Thanks Lauren! Yes, we loved the more simple lifestyle Laos had to offer. We really enjoyed the laidback atmosphere and the view! You’re from a really amazing place!

  19. Hi, I’ve been to Laos 4 times in the last 10 years. Apart from Van Vieng, where disrespectful back packers walk round wearing hardly nothing, there are plenty of lovely places to see and visit. But I’ve seen so much change in the last few years I would suggest going sooner rather than later. As for 25 bucks a day, you can easily only spend half of that a day outside Vientiane! 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment Chris! You’re right about people visiting Vang Vieng. Scott visited about 4 years ago and when we went back this year he couldn’t believe how much had changed just there. It’s still beautiful, but it’s getting spoiled by the type of tourism it attracts. You’re right about easily spending less than $25 outside the bigger places like Vientiane and Luang Prabang! It really is a magical place, we would love to go back before it changes too much!

  20. Brings back great memories. We were in Laos for a month this time last year, travelling with our two children (ages 8 and 6). We loved Luang Namtha – our first stop having done the land crossing from Jinghong, China. As you say – the hospitality was extraordinary and the children were treated like royalty – we were told that life is tough so they really spoil all children for as long as they can. Jungle trekking and eating lemongrass pork cooked in bamboo – hmmm – happy days! I wonder what the country will be like when and if my children go back. A very special place.

    • I love that you travel the world with your kids there! When we have a family together we want to take them on our travels as well. At first we were worried we would only be able to travel the way we do before we have a family, but after seeing so many families on the road while we were traveling it was such and inspiration and made us realize that we don’t need to stop traveling once we decide to have a family.

  21. We’re heading to Laos early next year during a RTW trip, and this post has made us so excited for it! Great tips – particularly about the waterfalls.. We’ll be checking these out for sure! Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing

    • Thanks Miranda! You’ll love Laos, especially the waterfalls! It was hard for us to leave!

  22. Very useful information and great photo’s!

    Laos is a fantastic country to travel through! Love to go there again soon after seeing there pictures.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Joost! Hope you have the chance to get back soon 🙂

  23. Hi,

    Thnx for your list, great read.

    Going to Laos for a month very soon. Just wondering how you travelled from north to south. Not interested in the overnight bus. Are there other options besides flying? By waster or private mini van?
    Also, what is the recommended dress code for women swimming at the falls?

    Thnx

    • Hi Julie, thanks! Unfortunately you do not have many options for transportation in Laos and the infrastructure isn’t as convenient as neighboring countries like Thailand. To travel around you really rely heavily on long bus rides (expect them to be longer than what they say when you buy the ticket). For short distances you can sometimes get mini buses, but these are usually filled to the brim with people and luggage and can be cramped. We did night buses and regular day buses. Some were bad and some were okay, just depends a bit on your luck. If you’re comfortable on a motorbike you can rent/buy drive one yourself through the country at your own pace. Also, in a waterfall you can wear a bikini, they are used to seeing foreigners in swim suits, if you want to be extra cautious you can wear a tshirt and shorts instead.

  24. Laos is a really beautiful country and we think you have summed it up so well. We did not have as long as you did there but we loved every second of it. We are planning on going back next year to explore more of it.

    • So glad to hear you had as wonderful a time as Megan and Scott did! Hope you have an amazing trip back next year 🙂

  25. Laos is incredibly beautiful. You’re right, it does offer a lot of activities for adrenaline junkies!

    • Glad to hear you love it as much as we do! 🙂

  26. Very useful and informative post! Really love your pictures of this great country!

    • Glad you enjoyed it Frank! Happy travels 🙂

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