Top 10 things to do in Laos

Laos

A mountainous country that is becoming more and more popular on the backpacker trail.

Laos is a country.

Laos ((i/ˈlaʊs/, /ˈlɑː.ɒs/, /ˈlɑː.oʊs/, or /ˈleɪ.ɒs/) Lao Language: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ, pronounced [sǎː.tʰáː.laʔ.naʔ.lat páʔ.sáː.tʰiʔ.páʔ.tàj páʔ.sáː.són.láːw] Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao), officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic (LPDR) (French: République démocratique populaire lao), is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, and Thailand to the west. Since 1975, it is ruled by a Marxist and communist government. Its population was estimated to be around 6.8 million in July 2014.

Significant corruption exists in the Lao government, military, and communist party in the LPDR, and the legacy of a command economy, as well as excess spending on military and defense budgets during the Cold War and its aftermath, have continued to impoverish Laos. According to the anti-corruption non-governmental organization Transparency International, Laos remains one of the most corrupt countries in the world. This has deterred foreign investment and created major problems with the rule of law, including the nation's ability to enforce contract and business regulation. Consequently, a third of the population of Laos currently lives below the international poverty line (living on less than US$1.25 per day). Laos has a low-income economy, with one of the lowest annual incomes in the world. In 2013, Laos ranked the 138th place (tied with Cambodia) on the Human Development Index (HDI), indicating that Laos has lower medium to low development. According to the Global Hunger Index (2013), Laos ranks as the 25th hungriest nation in the world out of the list of the 56 nations with the worst hunger situation(s). Laos has had a poor human rights record most particularly dealing with the nation's acts of genocide being committed towards its Hmong population.

Laos traces its history to the kingdom of Lan Xang, which existed from the 14th to the 18th century when it split into three kingdoms. In 1893, it became a French protectorate, with the three kingdoms — Luang Phrabang, Vientiane and Champasak — uniting to form what is now known as Laos. It briefly gained independence in 1945 after Japanese occupation, but returned to French rule until it was granted autonomy in 1949. Laos became independent in 1953, with a constitutional monarchy under Sisavang Vong. Shortly after independence, a long civil war ended the monarchy, when the Communist Pathet Lao movement came to power in 1975.

Laos is a single-party socialist republic. It espouses Marxism and is governed by a single party communist politburo dominated by military generals. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Vietnam People's Army continue to have significant influence in Laos. The capital city is Vientiane. Other large cities include Luang Prabang, Savannakhet, and Pakse. The official language is Lao. Laos is a multi-ethnic country with the politically and culturally dominant Lao people making up approximately 60% of the population, mostly in the lowlands. Mon-Khmer groups, the Hmong, and other indigenous hill tribes, accounting for 40% of the population, live in the foothills and mountains.

Laos' strategy for development is based on generating electricity from its rivers and selling the power to its neighbours, namely Thailand, China, and Vietnam. Its economy is accelerating rapidly with the demands for its metals.

It is a member of the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), East Asia Summit and La Francophonie. Laos applied for membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1997; on 2 February 2013, it was granted full membership.

Overall rating: 4.6
Country
Typical length of visit: 7 days

Top 10 things to do in Laos

Don Det – Don Khon narrow gauge railway

Don Det – Don Khon narrow gauge railway
The Don Det – Don Khon railway was a seven kilometre long, narrow gauge portage railway located on Don Det – Don Khon islands, part of the Siphandon or Four ...

Ban Houayxay

Ban Houayxay
Ban Houayxay , also Huoeisay, Houei Sai or Huay Xai and , is the capital of the Lao province of Bokèo, on the border with Thailand.The town lies on the ...

Luang Namtha

Luang Namtha
Louang Namtha, M. Nalae, or M. Na Lae, Luang Nam Tha is the capital of Luang Namtha Province in northern Laos. The city lies on the Tha River .Luang Namtha ...

Savannakhet

Savannakhet
Savannakhet or Kaysone Phomvihane is a city in western Laos and the capital of the Savannakhet Province, previously known as Khanthabouli . This is the second-largest city in Laos, after ...

Vientiane

Vientiane
Vientiane is the capital and largest city of Laos, on the banks of the Mekong River near the border with Thailand. Vientiane became the capital in 1563 due to fears ...

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang
locality

Thakhek

Thakhek
Thakhek is a town in south-central Laos on the Mekong River and facing Nakhon Phanom across the river in northeastern Thailand. It is the capital of Khammouane Province.The city has ...

Phonsavan

Phonsavan
Phonsavan is the capital of Xiangkhoang Province. The name stands for "hills of paradise".Phonsavan is the provincial capital of Xiangkhouang Province. The countryside is dominated by green hills and pine ...

Nong Kiau

Nong Kiau
Hat Sao is a village in the Laotian region of Luang Prabang Province. It is popular for tourists because of the walking and cycling routes near the village and the ...

Pakse

Pakse
Pakse or Pakxe is the capital and most populous city in the southern province of Champasak, making it the third most populous city in Laos. Located at the confluence of ...

Khong Island

Khong Island
Khong Island or Don Khong is the largest island and the seat of administration in the Si Phan Don riverine archipelago located in the Mekong River, Khong District, Champasak Province, ...

Muang Khua

Muang Khua
Muang Khua is a village in Laos, near the Vietnamese border. Many tourists visit the village, because a bus between Muang Khua and Dien Bien Phu departs here. The best ...

Muang sing

Muang sing
Muang Sing or Mueang Sing is a small town and district in Luang Namtha Province, northwestern Laos, about 60 kilometres northwest of the town of Luang Namtha and 360 kilometres ...

Xam Neua

Xam Neua
Xam Neua ; presently operated by Lao Skyway, flying a small Cessna Caravan EX.FactsXam Neua is in a valley in Houaphan Province. In the early morning hours ...

Paksong

Paksong
Paksong is a city in Laos, situated on the Bolaven Plateau. The city is well known for its coffee exports. It is the capital of Paksong District. ...

Pakxan

Pakxan
Pakxan, Paksan or Muang Pakxan is a town in Bolikhamsai Province, in western Laos. It is the capital of Paksan District. The Nam Xan River joins the Mekong River at ...

Muang Xay

Muang Xay
Muang Xay , also referred to as Oudomxai, is the capital city of Oudomxai Province, Laos. It is at around 20°42′N 101°59′E / 20.700°N 101.983°E / 20.700; 101.983. The town ...

Salavan

Salavan
Salavan may refer to:Salavan Province, LaosSalavan , LaosSalavan , Laos ...

Ban Pha Tang

Ban Pha Tang
Ban Pha Tang or Ban Phatang is a small town in Vientiane Province, Laos. It is located 10.2 kilometres north along Route 13 from Vang Vieng, north of Ban Pakpo, ...

Kuang Si Falls

Kuang Si Falls
The Kuang Si Falls, sometimes spelled Kuang Xi or known as Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls, is a three tier waterfall about 29 kilometres south of Luang Prabang. These waterfalls are ...

Wat Xieng Thong

Wat Xieng Thong
Wat Xieng Thong is a Buddhist temple , located on the northern tip of the peninsula of Luang Phrabang, Laos. Wat Xieng Thong is one of the most important of ...

Nakai–Nam Theun

Nakai–Nam Theun
The Nakai–Nam Theun National Biodiversity Conservation Area , located in Laos, comprises one of the most pristine wildernesses remaining in Southeast Asia. Nakai–Nam Theun NBCA covers approximately 3,445 km of the ...

Royal Palace, Luang Prabang

Royal Palace, Luang Prabang
The Royal Palace in Luang Prabang, Laos, was built in 1904 during the French colonial era for King Sisavang Vong and his family. The site for the palace was chosen ...

Wat Si Saket

Wat Si Saket
Wat Si Saket is a Buddhist wat in Vientiane, Laos. It is situated on Lan Xang Road, on the corner with Setthathirat Road, to the northwest of Haw Phra Kaew, ...

Mount Phousi

Mount Phousi
Mount Phou Si, also written Mount Phu Si, is a 100m high hill in the centre of the old town of Luang Prabang. It lies in the heart of the ...

Lao National Museum

Lao National Museum
The Lao National Museum is located in Vientiane, Laos. It was founded as the national museum highlighting the revolution of the 1970s and is located in a French colonial building. ...

Wat Si Muang

Wat Si Muang
Wat Si Muang or Simuong is a Buddhist temple in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, built in 1563.Located near the eastern entrance to the city centre, on the road leading ...

Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham

Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham
Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham often simply Wat Mai or Wat May is a Buddhist temple or wat in Luang Prabang, Laos. It is the largest and most richly decorated of the ...

Wat Sen

Wat Sen
Wat Sen, Luang Prabang also known as Wat Sene Souk Haram is a Buddhist temple , located in Luang Phrabang, Laos.HistoryIt was built in 1718 by King ...

That Dam

That Dam
That Dam is a large stupa located in Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Many Laotians believe it is inhabited by a seven-headed nāga who tried to protect them from an ...

Patuxai

Patuxai
Patuxai is a war monument in the centre of Vientiane, Laos, which was built between 1957 and 1968. The Patuxai is dedicated to those who fought in the struggle for ...

Haw Phra Kaew

Haw Phra Kaew
Haw Phra Kaew is a former temple in Vientiane, Laos. It is situated on Setthathirath Road, to the southeast of Wat Si Saket. The interior now houses a museum and ...

Don Chan Palace

Don Chan Palace
Don Chan Palace is a hotel in Vientiane, Laos, established in 2004. The hotel is the tallest building in the city at 14 storeys. Legislation by the Vientiane government had ...

Wat Ong Teu Mahawihan

Wat Ong Teu Mahawihan
Wat Ong Teu Mahawihan is one of many Buddhist Monasteries that are present in the city of Vientiane in Laos. This name is given to the temple due to the ...

Don Det & Don Khon

Don Det & Don Khon
The Don Det – Don Khon railway was a seven kilometre long, narrow gauge portage railway located on Don Det – Don Khon islands, part of the Siphandon or Four ...

Huay Xai

Huay Xai
Ban Houayxay , also Huoeisay, Houei Sai or Huay Xai and , is the capital of the Lao province of Bokèo, on the border with Thailand.The town lies on the ...

Pak Beng

Pak Beng
Pak Beng is a small village in Laos, on the Mekong River about halfway between the Thai border at Huay Xai and Luang Prabang, Laos. Pakbeng is connected by a ...

Phongsali

Phongsali
Phongsali or Phongsaly is the capital of Phongsali Province, Laos. It is the northernmost among provincial capitals in Laos opposite Attapeu in the south. The town has about 6,000 inhabitants ...

Sainyabuli

Sainyabuli
Sainyabuli, Xaignabouli, Xayaburi or Xayaboury is the capital of Sainyabuli Province, Laos. It lies along Route 4 which along with Route 13 connects it to Luang Prabang, roughly 80 kilometres ...

Buddhas

Buddhas
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha ; Pali/Sanskrit for "awakened one".Explanation of the term BuddhaIn Theravada Buddhism, Buddha refers to ...

Dolphins

Dolphins
Dolphins are a widely distributed and diverse group of fully aquatic marine mammals. They are an informal grouping within the order Cetacea, excluding whales and porpoises, so to zoologists the ...

Wat Phu Champasak

Wat Phu Champasak
Vat Phou or Wat Phu is a ruined Khmer Hindu temple complex in southern Laos. It is located at the base of mount Phu Kao, some 6 km from the Mekong ...

Pak Ou Caves

Pak Ou Caves
Near Pak Ou the Tham Ting and the Tham Theung are caves overlooking the Mekong River, 25 km to the north of Luang Prabang, Laos. They are a group of ...

Chinese Temple

Chinese Temple
A Chinese temple is a worship place of the Chinese folk religion/Shenism, where people revere ethnic Chinese gods and ancestors. They can be distinguished into:miào or diàn , simply meaning ...

Food Market

Food Market
Food marketing brings together the food producer and the consumer through a chain of marketing activities. The marketing of even a single food product can be a complicated process involving ...

Khon Phapheng Falls

Khon Phapheng Falls
The Khone Falls and Pha Pheng Falls is a waterfall located in Champasak Province on the Mekong River in southern Laos, near the border with Cambodia . The Khone Falls ...

Main Market

Main Market
The main square of the Old Town of Kraków, Lesser Poland, is the principal urban space located at the center of the city. It dates back to the 13th century, ...

Main Market

Main Market
The main square of the Old Town of Kraków, Lesser Poland, is the principal urban space located at the center of the city. It dates back to the 13th century, ...

Museum

Museum
A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of artistic, cultural, historical, or scientific importance and makes them available for public viewing through ...

New Market

New Market
New Market is the name of a number of places:GeographyBangladeshNew Market, ChittagongNew Market, DhakaNew Market, Dollai Nawabpur,ComillaGermanyNeumarkt , translating to New ...

Old Market

Old Market
Old Market or variations with House, Building, or Historic District, may refer to:Old Market , listed on the NRHP in GeorgiaOld Market House , listed on the NRHP in IllinoisOld ...

PMC

PMC
PMC may refer to:ComputingPacific Microelectronics Centre, acquired by Sierra Semiconductor in 1994 to form PMC-SierraParallel model combination, a Hidden Markov model-based method for robust speech recognitionParrot Magic ...

Phu Fa

Phu Fa
Phu Fa is a waterfall in the deep jungle of the Luang Prabang Range near the Laos border. It is located in the protected area of Doi Phu Kha National ...

Suspension Bridge

Suspension Bridge
A suspension bridge is a type of bridge in which the deck is hung below suspension cables on vertical suspenders. The first modern examples of this type of bridge were ...

Suspension Bridge

Suspension Bridge
A suspension bridge is a type of bridge in which the deck is hung below suspension cables on vertical suspenders. The first modern examples of this type of bridge were ...

Tribal Museum

Tribal Museum
The Tribal Museum is an ethnographic museum in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, showing the life of Thailand's minority hill tribes.ExhibitsThe Tribal Museum highlights the history and culture ...

Wat

Wat
A wat is a monastery-temple in Thailand, Cambodia or Laos. The term is borrowed from Sanskrit vāṭa "enclosure".IntroductionStrictly speaking a wat is a Buddhist sacred precinct with ...

Wat Manorom

Wat Manorom
Wat Manorom is a major Buddhist temple and monastery in Luang Prabang, Laos. There are several theories as to the date of its founding; it may have been founded in ...

Buddha Footprint

Buddha Footprint
The footprint of the Buddha is an imprint of Gautama Buddha's one or both feet. There are two forms: natural, as found in stone or rock, and those made artificially. ...

TAEC

TAEC
TAEC is an acronym that can stand forTanzania Atomic Energy Commission, a regulatory and service parastatal organization of TanzaniaToshiba America Electronic Components, a US branch of Toshiba ...

Wat Pa Phon Phao

Wat Pa Phon Phao
Wat Pa Phon Phao, also Wat Phon Phao, Wat Phonphao, or Wat Phol Phao, meaning "Peacefulness Temple", is a Buddhist temple situated on a hill in the southeast of Luang ...

mali

mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in West Africa. Mali is the eighth-largest country in Africa, with an area of just over 1,240,000 square ...