Things to do in Laos

Laos, formerly known as Lan Xang, or Vientiane, is a beautiful, peaceful country and has been a good neighbor of Vietnam for a long time. Situated at the crossroads of two great civilizations in Asia in the past: India, China; Lao people acquired and selected the unique cultural values and created their own culture. In addition to the ancient temples, famous sites, the unique customs in Laos also attract many tourists. So, what should you do once traveling to Laos?. Here under is the ideal guides in order to help you have a perfect trip in Laos.

1. Sightseeing must see in Laos

2. Enjoying the traditional cuisine in Laos

3. Attending unique festivals and special ceremonies

4. Buying souvenirs

 

1. Sightseeing must see in Laos

Pha That Luang

Referring to Laos, we should not forget to mention That Luang, it is simply because this famous temples is the national symbol and is printed on banknotes and the national emblem of Laos. Pha That Luang was built in 1566 under the reign of King Setthathirat in the model of a wine gourd on the ruins of an Indian temple in the 13th century, and the temple is covered in gold. According to legend, the tower has preserved relics of the Buddha are a hair and a lot of jewels. The architectural style of the temple reflects the culture and identity of Laos. Pha That Luang includes the 45m high main tower surrounded by the side towers which are gilded brilliantly and majestically.

things to do in Laos

Pha That Luang is the national symbol and is printed on banknotes and the national emblem of Laos

Xieng Khuang

Xieng Khuang and the mysterious Plain of Jars are the reasons which urge tourists all over the world to want to come here once to explore. Xieng Khuang also attracts tourists with the unspoiled landscape, primitive pure nature.

The Plain of Jars is the famous cultural and historical area that every visitors coming to Laos would like to explore. Located near the city of Kham Muon, Xieng Khouang plateau, there are thousands of stone jars lying scattered along the field. Archaeologists believe that the jars date back to 1,500 to 2,000 years, and the plains consist of many mystery legends without an explanation to satisfy people’s curiosity. One reason contributing to the popularity of this field is that this place was the intense battlefield during the American war of the three Indochinese countries and the traces left nowadays still makes many people surprised.

things to do in Laos, sightseeing must see in Laos

A statue of Buddha at Phia Wat Temple in Xieng Khuang province, Laos

Coming to Xieng Khouang, visitors should not miss the opportunity to visit the tower of That Foun. Located in the district of Muang Khoun, where has poetic, charming natural landscapes, the stupa of That Foun of 30m high built in 1576 is the burial place of the Buddha’s remains brought from India. It contains the thrilling legends of the Buddha. Legend has it that, a bandit from China gouged a hole at the foot of the tower to steal the gold Buddha statue inside. The trace has created a unique character of the tower attracting many visitors and Buddhists to visit and pilgrimage.

Luang Prabang

Recognized as a world cultural heritage by UNESCO, the ancient capital of Luang Prabang are the peaceful close and friendly place that every citizen of Laos, regardless where they are, desire to visit once.

Located near the junction of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, Wat Xien Thong is the most beautiful, the oldest and most important temple of the 65 major temples in Luang Prabang. The temple has a special architecture of Laos with the curved roof extending down near the ground, the interior including the sophisticated reliefs and sculptures based on ancient Buddhist legend. It has many large Buddha statues, is the pilgrimage place of the Royal and Buddhist dignitaries. In peaceful sunny afternoons, cool breeze from Mekong blowing creates the pleasant atmosphere. From the temple, visitors can see the panoramic dreaming ancient capital immersed in the green of the trees.

Vientiane 

If you are finding a destination where still exist and keep a leisure life with a peaceful space is Vientiane is an ideal choice for you to explore on your trip to Laos in Indochina. Vientiane is located in the curved line of Mekong River, this is also the land where is encompassed a lot of the national relics of Laos and this is also the place where has the long history of Buddhism. Vientiane is quite different from other bustling cities in the world, the daily life at here is not busy and noisy, it is always deliberate so that every year Vientiane still attract a lot of the tourists from all over the world prefer a place where they can visit, relax and explore.

things to do in Laos

A countryside landscape in Vientiane

With the stable weather with just two seasons in a year is the wet and dry season, the wet season is from May to November and the dry season is from December to April so that it is fine for you to travel Vientiane anytime in a year, and you also do not need to bring the warm clothes while traveling this city because the weather is always very hot in the dry season and cool in the wet season. The best time for you to travel Laos is the period of the traditional festivals at here such as the water festival in Laos from 13th to 15th April, this traditional festival is considered as one of the most important festivals of Laos people, take part in the traditional festivals in Vientiane you will feel really about their traditional habits and customs, it is very special and different from other places in the world.

Vientiane city has also an international airport, there are also many flights every day so that it is also easy and convenient for you to enter to Vientiane from anywhere in the world, the visa arrival to Laos is also easy and fast for almost tourists to do directly on arrival at the airport in Vientiane. You just need to prepare 02 photos (passport size), the original passport and 25-30usd/ person depending on the citizen, then you will be allowed to do the Visa arrival to Laos in Vientiane airport or any international airport in Laos.

The main vehicles for you to move in Vientiane is by tuk-tuk, you can catch a tuk-tuk anywhere in Vientiane and it is flexible for you to choose your schedule to visit any place in Vientiane at the time you catch a tuk-tuk or a private car. And, you should not buy a return ticket or pay for a return car in advance so it is also more flexible for you to explore any place you want in Vientiane.

Different from other tourist cities in the world, Vientiane offer the higher prices about the accommodation than other cities in Laos because almost of hotels are invested and built by foreigners (not locals) and almost furniture are imported from the foreign, so the room rates at hotels in Vientiane are normally very high. But there are also available many cheap hotels in the center of Vientiane but if you travel to Vientiane in the high season from May to November, then you should book your room online in advance via the famous website as agoda.com or booking.com….to make sure that you have your room on your arrival date.

Arrival to Vientiane, you also should not miss trying the local food in Laos, also as Asia countries is Laos also include a lot of the special food such as Khao Niaw (Sticky Rice), Khao Jee (Baguettes), Tam Mak Houng (Spicy Green Papaya Salad), Larb (Laap, Larp or Lahb), Or Lam (Stew), Lao Barbecue (Sindad), Sai Oua (Lao Sausage), Ping Kai (Grilled Chicken), Khao Piak Sen (Lao Noodle Soup)….

Exploring Vientiane, you must see the main sightseeing of this peaceful city such as Wat Sisaket Temple that has been built since 1818 by Anouvong King and this is also the most ancient temple in Vientiane, That Luang Stupa that is high around 9m and wide around 10m and this special structure was built by Saysetthathirath King since 1566, Xieng Khuang Buddha Park where is considered as a collection of the Buddhist and Indian carved works, at here there are a lot of the different statues. Besides the main and the most famous sites above, Vientiane is also very known with other special sights such as Hor Pha Keo Museum,Patuxay Monument, Wat Simuang Temple, Tri Pikata Library and see the sunset in the bank of Mekong River……

Pak Ou Caves a place of pilgrimage very known in Luang Parang, Laos

Pak Ou Caves is still considered as one of the most famous spirits and hallowed sites in Luang Prabang, Laos. With over 4000 Buddha statues since over 300 years ago, these statues were brought to hide by Laos people during the time they escaped invaders when Luang Prabang capital city was invaded, this place becomes one of the most popular sights must see once you travel to Laos.

In the past, there is just only one way by boat to move from Luang Prabang to Pak Ou Caves, but now there are two ways to transfer from the center of Luang Prabang to come here, it is by land and boat. It takes around two hours by land or boat from the city center of Luang Prabang to this sight, but normally it is more interesting for you to take by boat because during the way you have a chance to see the daily life of Laos locals at two sides of Mekong River. Especially, on the way from Luang Prabang to Pak Ou Caves, you will pass a handicraft village where you will be seen the traditional products which are made directly from the locals in this village, you can buy them as the souvenirs, it is sold at very good prices. The local life and children at here are also still very poor, so if you intend to help the poor children, then this is an exact place for you to do this. Besides you have a chance to buy the special souvenirs and help the poor locals in the village, you also have a chance to find about the habits and customs of a daily life at here, if you are lucky you will be taking part in the traditional festivals and weddings of Laos in this village, it is very different from other places in the world because the people at here still keep almost their traditional customs until now.

There are two different parts in Pak Ou Caves is the Lower Cave and Upper Cave with around 200 rungs of ladders with thousands of Buddha statues, among of those statues it is also included a lot of the different big and small statues, there are also still many big statues which are still kept as originally, it is not broken anything, but besides that there are also a lot of very beautiful statues which were broken and not is kept as its own original, all these statues are located scattered in the caves. Firstly you should visit the Lower Cave with a lot of the ancient Buddha statues, they are made from very many different materials and sizes. During the time you explore in the part of the Upper Cave, you should prepare or rent a flashlight to guide and discover this place because it is little dark in this area,

Nowadays, Pak Ou Caves is considered as a very known place of pilgrimage in Luang Parang, Laos. Arrival here, you understand somewhat about a prosperous period of Laos Buddhism about although at that time it was invaded.

2. Enjoying the traditional cuisine in Laos

Laos sticky rice

Sticky rice is a familiar dish in Laos culinary culture, and appears in almost every event, from family meals to death anniversaries, festivals. This simple dish is made from sticky rice grown on upland (stick and delicious). Laos sticky rice is often eaten with grilled chicken and a sauce called “cheo bong”, which is similar to seasoning sauce in Vietnam. Although today many families turn to eat rice, Laos sticky rice retains an important role in the lives of the people of Laos. When visiting Laos, you can taste this dish in the stalls or restaurants for about 15,000 kips/basket.

Larb

Larb is a popular dish in all regions of Laos and is made to be a good luck wish of the owner to guests. The materials and way of cooking Larb of Laotians are quite simple, the ingredients consist of cooked beef, pork, chicken… mixed with chopped liver and spices such as lemon juice, chili, galangal, powdered grilled sticky rice. Larb is served with lettuce, string beans for better taste. Laos are sold in both small and big restaurants in Laos with the price of about 30,000 kip/disk.

3. Attending unique festivals and special ceremonies

New Year- Water festival

Water festival in Laos is called Bunpimay, which usually takes place in three days from the 13th  to 15th of April according to Buddhist calendar. On this occasion, the Lao people flock to the temples to worship the Buddha, wash the Buddha statues with perfumed water, listen to the monks’ lectures, then splash water to the monks, pagodas, and trees around the temple. The Water festival’s meaning is to splash away the fatigue, troubles, evils of the old years, brings luck, fertility, and prosperity to the people and wish a happy new year to all things.

what is the best festival in Laos

Water Festival in Luang Prabang

People splash water on the monks to express their homage. Children splash on adults to wish them to live longer, be happy and prosperous. Friends pour water on each other to exchange best wishes. People believe that the more water they get, the luckier they will be. Water Festival in Laos is always joyful, attracts many international visitors to join in.

Besides, Laotians also use water to wash homes, working tools and animals to wash evil, illness and wish a good new year and good health.

In addition to the Water festival, Laotians have another rather unique tradition called Baci (tying threads on the wrist). This type of ceremony is usually performed in the New Year occasions, wedding, for people going away or returning after a time away from home, moving to a new house or recovering from illness… In particular, this custom also for close friends of the landlord or some agency and organization. They tie colorful threads on each other’s hand wrist as the wishes for happiness and health to the people whose is tied. This practice is simple but it reflects the gentle nature of the people of Laos. They never pray for themselves only, but also pray for others; because, according to their belief, when doing something good for someone else, good things will come to them.

According to the tradition, this ritual must be conducted in the most suitable place in the house, usually in the living room. The person invited to be the master of the ceremony is a monk, but in the reality, he is often an Achan, or a defrocked, or at least Mophon, (literally translated as a shaman).

4. Buying souvenirs

Taking a trip to Lao is a very easy and regular task of many people and of course so is the shopping here. You should go to the markets and duty-free shops, mostly at the border gate, because the price is much cheaper than in other places and goods are also various. They are also popular shopping destinations in Laos. Shopping at the market, you should bargain because the price is not stable, each seller gives his own a price. You must also pay attention to the number of the item you want to buy because for the duty-free shops, a buyer can normally get a limited number of goods, and there are some items that Customs office does not allow you to take out of the border. The souvenirs you should buy in Laos are crafts; towels, brocade clothes; jewelry made of copper or silver.