Laos Travel Guide


Laos Holidays - Tours and Adventure Travel Guide

PureTravel Says
“Laos is a landlocked country bordered by China and Burma on the northwest and Vietnam on the east. On the west, you can find Thailand, and on south is Cambodia. Nevertheless, it still remains one of the most untouched countries in Asia. It features unspoiled natural resources, such as the Mekong River and its tributaries, fertile plains and valleys, countless ethnic villages, majestic ruins and Buddhist temples, and people that are engrossed in their traditions. It also shares the Annamite chain with Vietnam while the Khmer ruins describe its relations with Cambodia.”

Laos Holiday Highlights

Walking & Trekking - One of the best ways to explore Laos is to trek. There are plenty of mountain trails, biking trails, and camping grounds all over the mountains. You can go to Ban Nalan Trek and the villages of Akha, which is found in Nam Ha Forest Camp. Explore Piang Ngam Trek, where you can stay at a traditional village. Use a specialist local tour operator to help you choose which trails to use, such as in Attapeu. Other interesting places to visit are the waterfalls and countless ethnic villages, which are off the beaten track, filled with untouched natural resources.

Culture History - A huge portion of the population in Lao is composed of the Laos people. There are also related groups, which call themselves Tai, Red Tai and Black Tai, to name a few. In 1995, there were already 43 ethnicities, living in the provinces and in the mountains. There are also plenty of Chinese and Vietnamese living in Laos. The main religion in the country is Buddhism, of which 60% of its people are Buddhist. Laos is very keen to preserve whatever they can in the form of arts and literature.

Rafting - Why not try white water rafting whilst in Laos as the country is filled with numerous rivers and dense jungles, as well as deep gorges. A white water rafting escapade may even take you to caves and coves all around the Mekong River. The rivers in Laos can be described as challenging or mellow, depending on the season.

Adventure Tours - Adventure tours in Laos takes you up the mountains and into the fertile valleys and plains. You can also venture into the traditional ethnic villages that are scattered all over the country. You can see local culture and history among the ruins and the different Buddhist temples of Laos. You can also have the opportunity to explore the less visited river systems of Laos, where you can spend your day kayaking and white water rafting.

When To Go

A good time to visit Laos is from November until February. At these periods, the weather is not too hot, and there is the least rainfall. These are also considered as off-peak months, so there may be less visitors.

If going up the mountains, the months of May until July will also prove to be ideal. Rainy season is during July until October and you can have fun in Laos by including river travel during this time.

Top Tips

  • Check the latest advice if traveling by speedboat in Laos.
  • There are not many foreign exchange centers in Laos and if you happen to be in a remote area, there’s a huge possibility that kip is only accepted so ensure you bring some kip currency with you.
  • Use a specialist tour operator whilst walking and trekking and stick to the paved roads and paths. They will have local history and geography knowledge in a country that still has some unexploded mines.

Laos Holidays In Focus

Walking and Trekking

Phou Mout is one of the most popular mountain trails in Laos. It is located in Luang Namtha province, in Vieng Phoukha District. You can begin your trek at Ban Nammang, which is an ethnic village of Khmu, and then to Mock Mooch, where you can see the vast rice fields and the forest conservation area of the district. You can also include visiting the ruins of Ku Vieng and Wat Mahapot while you’re there. The majority of the artifacts in the temples date as far back as 4,000 years ago. Allow several hours to explore and be aware of some steep accents and descents.

A province called Oudomxai is often bypassed by visitors but is worth visiting for its dense forests and larger population of ethnic minorities, such as the Khmus and the Hmongs. There are a number of natural Hot Springs, specifically those in Muang La and a noteworthy sight is the Nam Kat Waterfall.

Trek to the Phou Hin Poun protected area on a more bearable trail than that of Phou Mout. The trail by road and on foot will take at least 5 hours. There are plenty of sights on the way though such as the Limestone Forest and the caves of Tham Kainao and Tham Pa Chan. You will then arrive at the Ban Na village, where a guide can take you to the Nam Don River and to the caves and swimming holes. If you can stay overnight, you can watch a cultural performance from the locals.

Culture and History

Laos has a small population, grouped into more than 60 tribes and half of which are called Lao Loum. They live in the lowlands, plains and valleys and are also sometimes known as the Lao Tai, which are also subdivided into different classes.

Around 30% of the population, on the other hand, are called upland Lao, or the Lao Theung. Their villages are located between 300 and 900 meters above sea level and are also said to be the poorest among the group, who would give in to slave labor and serve the Lao Loum. The rest are the Lao Sung, who are currently living up high in the mountains. Because of the closeness of Laos to other neighboring Asian countries, there is also a small concentration of other nationalities, such as Chinese and Vietnamese who are usually found in the city.

The culture of Laos is mainly governed by religion, Theravada Buddhism. This is reflected not only in structures such as temples but also in the arts and literature. The cultural performances are also influenced by it and if you happen to be in the ethnic villages you will see the cultural beliefs and traditions that still remain.

It’s the custom of Lao that women should wear a phaa sin, which is a long patterned skirt, though women of ethnic tribes may have to follow their own way style of clothing and attire. With the fusion of Vietnamese influence in their lifestyle, you can also find the traditional Vietnamese hat, which is conical shaped, being worn by the people of Laos.

Men, on the other hand, have to wear a sash called the phaa biang, although because of Western culture, they seldom do, reserving their native costume for special occasions only. The same thing can be said of women, though they are still required to wear phaa sin, especially if they are going to be inside government offices.

Adventure

To travel around Laos, you can choose between bus and renting a private van. A lot of the tour operators also offer transport. You can also ride a bicycle. There are a lot of roads that are well maintained all over Laos and it’s a very cheap and practical way to explore the countryside. You can get a glimpse of the remote areas, less traveled roads and its hospitable people. You can rent a bike from cycling tours. Renting your own car is not a good idea here, unless you’re staying or traveling in the city only. You can meet unskilled drivers or worse bandits along the way.

Classic Itineraries

- River Trekking in Mekong.
- Exploring the Villages of Attapeu.
- Kayaking, Boating, and Rafting in Wat Phu.

Southeast Asia Travel Resources

Vietnam adventure travel guide
Cambodia adventure travel guide

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