Best things to do in Laos for a first timer

Overshadowed by its better-known coastal neighbours, Laos remains one of Southeast Asia’s most charming destinations. True to the Buddhist ways, the country retains a slow, old-fashioned charm. Change has been an unhurried occurrence,  in fact, you will notice most communities still adopting the same ways of life as 20 years ago, with little technology or influence from western countries (apart from the French Influence of course).

The best things to do in Laos are exploring the untouched sceneries, sparkling temples and testing out the tasty cuisine. The snaking Mekong river is lined with limestone cliffs and brooding jungle and the people are wholesome and welcoming!

If you haven’t been to Laos, this list should soon change that!

RELATED: “20 Amazing things to do in The Whitsundays” 


1.Feast on the glorious Laotian cuisine!

I just love the exotic flavour combinations of Asian cooking, and the food in Laos is no exception! You will find similarities to dishes you find in Thailand and Vietnam with a slight Laos twist! Make you sure you the Khao Niaw (sticky rice), Larb or Laap (minced meat), Tam Mak Hoong (green papaya salad), Khao Jii Paté (Baguette)! This Luang Prabang food guide is sure to get you excited!

Things to do in Laos
Laos Traditional Lunch | Things to do in Laos

2. Explore The Pak Ou Caves in Luang Prabang

One of the best things to do in Laos is to take a short boat ride from Luang Prabang up the Mekong River to Pak Ou Caves where you will witness hundreds of Buddha statues. The journey itself is specular with views of limestone cliffs and riverside communities. Most tours usually a stop at one of the handicraft villages along the way. The most popular stop is Ban Xang Hai (or Whiskey Village) where you can taste the local brew, check out some textiles and see some baby ducks!  The caves are filled with hundreds of Buddha statues. Buddhas in every position, every era of life, and every size line the cave walls. More than 6,000 Buddha statues and images fill the caves. Damp earth assaults the nostrils, even the brush of bodies as tourists enter and leave doesn’t stir the air.

Things to do in Laos
Exploring the Caves | Things to do in Laos

3. Hike Mount Phousi for Sunset in Luang Prabang

Up until 1975 when the communist took over Laos, Luang Prabang was the royal capital! Today it is still classed as one of the charming cities in south-east Asian and definitely my favourite in Laos. The main part of Luang Prabang is located on a peninsula between the Nam Khan and Mekong river, golden-roofed temples, charming wooden houses and French provincial buildings fill the main roads. Hike Mount Phousi for a bird’s eye view of the magical city below!

Things to do in Laos
Mount Phousi | Things to do in Laos

4. Explore the charming capital in Vientiane

Like many Asian countries, Laos has no shortage of stunning temples to be admired and explored. The pretty relaxed capital of Vientiane is no exception! Vientiane boasts colonial charm, tranquil Buddhist temples, friendly locals and fabulous food.
Don’t Miss: Fresh bakery goods in the cafes,  Lao Herbal Steam Sauna and Massage and Wat Sok Pa Luang temple and The Great Stupa!

Things to do in Laos
Exploring Vientiane | Things to do in Laos

5. Eat & Shop at the Luang Prabang Night Market

Laos’ royal capital, Luang Prabang is home to the region’s most authentic night market, where local hill tribes sell textiles, handmade silver jewellery and delicious local delicacies. Thousands of red and blue tent sell everything and anything you can imagine! You can then spend the evening eating at one of the restaurants or food stalls close by.

Things to do in Laos
Luang Prabang Markets | Things to do in Laos

6. See the Golden Stupa in Vientiane

The Golden Stupa or That Luang is one of the biggest and most magnificent stupas in Laos and being gold is also one of the most recognizable! The Golden Stupa is also the most sacred monument in the country, from the outside high walls protect this magnificent gold leaf covered stupa  Stupa that stands over 148 feet tall.

Things to do in Laos
Golden Stupa | Things to do in Laos

7. Rise early for the Alms Giving Ceremony of the Monks in Luang Prabang

There are many things to do in Luang Prabang but one that can’t be missed is to witness the Alms Giving Ceremony. It is one of the most humbling and authentic experiences you can have in Laos and one that will leave you feeling moved. Get up bright and early to give boxes of rice or biscuits or just sit back and watch in awe.  Hundreds of monks walk through the streets lined with offerings from the local people. This experience is an extremely special one, regardless of your religion and is not to be missed if you are in Luang Prabang.

Things to do in Laos
Alms Giving Ceremony | Things to do in Laos

8. Visit Kuang Si Waterfalls in Luang Prabang

One of the best reasons to visit Luang Prabang is to experience Kuang Si Falls. Kuang Si Falls is a massive picturesque waterfall which is around 25km from Luang Prabang and can be reached by car or motorbike. 20,000 kip ($2.50 USD) per person is all it cost to get into the waterfall where you can explore the lush rainforest and surene turquoise pools.

Things to do in Laos
Kuang Si Waterfalls | Things to do in Laos
Things to do in Laos
Kuang Si Waterfalls | Things to do in Laos

9. Explore Vang Vieng by bike

Vang Vieng is a riverside town, mainly visited by backpackers because of its river tubing parties. The main street is full of guest houses, bars, restaurants and tour agencies but its main attraction is the dramatic hill landscape surrounding the humble town. Grab a bike explore the stunning landscapes, it’s a given as well you will meet a few friends on the way- Vang Vieng locals rock!

Things to do in Laos
Exploring Vang Vieng | Things to do in Laos

10. Visit the South

Pakse in southern Laos is an incredible untouched region waiting to be explored! You will be spoiled for things to do in Pakse, including Vat Phou a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Khone Phapheng Falls the biggest falls in SEA and Don Det, 4000 mini islands spread across the Mekong River. You will be welcomed by the warming locals and showcased to the local cuisine. Pakse and southern Laos should definitely be on your Laos Itinerary! 

Editors Tip: Feeling a little more adventurous? Try the mesmerising motorbike loops in Thakhek and Pakse.

Things to do in Laos
Don Det | Things to do in Laos

11. Go tubing in Vang Vieng

One of the top things to do in Laos is tubing! Ah yes, the famous tubing! This was the one of the most fun and probably most dangerous (alcohol and water not a great mix) experiences I have ever had! Grab a tube and float down the Nam Song, stopping in at riverside bars for drinks, dancing and games along the way.

Things to do in Laos
Tubing in Vang Vieng | Things to do in Laos

What is your favourite thing about Asian Countries? Comment below!


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11 thoughts on “Best things to do in Laos for a first timer

  1. We loved our trip to Laos. We did all of those things as well as head deep into the Mekong for a couple nights. Brought me back to this beautiful place – thank you. 🙂

  2. We have yet to explore Laos, one of the few countries we haven’t traveled to in Asia. This list is a great starter for discovering it!

  3. I have heard and read alot of Laos but never though of getting there. After reading this post, i feel i have enough reasons to visit Laos. Thanks for sharing.

  4. We’ll be moving back to Asia this summer and Laos is near the top of my list for a visit. I’ll be sure to tuck away this article for future reference!

  5. Laos sounds incredible! My grandad worked there for a bit many years ago, it’s be nice to see where and tell him how things have changed!

  6. The Pak Ou Caves reminded me of the Pindaya caves in Myanmar. Laos is one unique and offbeat destination and I so want to go before it gets all commercial! Witnessing the alms taking ceremony is on my list too. Great list! 🙂

  7. Laos is one of those places that has exotic appeal for me, but as I read through this I realised how little I know. Now I’m hungry and craving Laotian street food. I love the look of the caves as well. Thanks for posting.

  8. Indeed Laos is relatively overshadowed in terms of tourism. However probably that in itself is a blessing in disguise as this has enabled it to still retain its pristine charm. There are so many sights and experiences to be enjoyed in Laos. I find the alms giving ceremony really fascinating and would like to experience it someday.

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