Hidden in a landlocked region between China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar, Laos is one of the last hidden gems of Asia. To help you with inspiration for your trip to this mysterious country, we’re listing our top 10 experiences that you can include your itinerary. I hope you will be inspired.
1. Play petanque with the locals
This classic French game of petanque, otherwise known as boule was imported over during the colonial period in the late 19th Century. The aim is to get your heavy ball as close to a small rubber one that’s a good 4-6 metres away from you. The winner is the person who gets their ball the closest. Slow, relaxed and fun, it’s a brilliant way of getting to know the local people.
There are lots of petanque playing areas around the cities of Laos and many will combine playing the game with eating some wonderful snacks including fried and spiced meat on skewers in a satay-like sauce and other barbecued delights. It doesn’t matter if you can’t speak Lao as the universal language of the game will let you interact anyway.
2. Eat breakfast surrounded by waterfalls and nature
Enjoy some of Laos most stunning waterfalls away from the crowds by having a delicious early morning picnic amongst them. Enjoy a spread of tropical fruits and omelette with sweet chilli sauce whilst surrounded by this picturesque natural landscape. You can have a swim in the waterfall pools underneath – they are a little cold though! By going early you miss the crowds that arrive by ten O’clock onwards.
3. Watch hundred of monks give alms in UNESCO heritage Luang Prabang
Follow your expert local guide to roads in Luang Prabang few tourists know about and watch monks give alms at the various temples throughout the city. There will be hundreds and hundred of orange-clad monks making their way to receive food for the day. It’s an awe-inspiring experience.
4. Eat French Indochine food
There are some delicious fusion foods you must try when visiting Laos. The Lao crepe is delicious, made similarly to the traditional French crepe, the locals like to serve it with bananas inside or other tropical fruits. The baguettes (Khao Jee) are stuffed with delicious spiced meats, fresh vegetables and coriander and are delicious with the crusty French bread perfectly complimenting the flavour-full filling.
5. Relax on 4000 islands
Si Phan Don or 4000 islands is a region in Laos where the Mekong spreads wide into an archipelago and the water slows. It’s an incredibly relaxing place with little towns dotted throughout and locals living a life in harmony with the rise and submission of water as the seasons pass. An insider tip is to stay in one of Sala Dhone Khone’s floating villas for an extra special experience of this beautiful place.
6. Meander down the Mekong
A brilliant way to get an insight into life on the Mekong river is by embarking in a river journey on a converted traditional riverboat. There are a few to choose from with different routes and different lengths of voyage. Usually you embark from Luang Prabang and finish downstream.
It’s a great way of experiencing some of the main sites of Laos including Vat Pho Temple, a pre-Angkorian Khmer temple and small local villages only accessible by boat.
7. Drink a sunset beer Lao from Wat Chom Phet overlooking Luang Prabang
Climb to a vantage point on the hills surrounding Luang Prabang and look back on this magnificent city in all its glory. We recommend crossing the river and travelling to an abandoned temple with 100 steps leading to it. The shady terrace has fantastic views over the city and very few tourists venture here. Make sure you take a glass of the best beer in the world: beer lao.
8. Watch the ballet in Luang Prabang
The ‘Phra-Lak-Phra Lam’ is the national epic of the Lao people. It tells a Jataka story – of a previous lifetime of the Buddha. This mesmerising ballet is the Lao version of the Sacred Poem, and is performed every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening in the Royal Palace of Luang Prabang.
9. Learn about moon bears at a rescue centre
Very close to the Kuang Si Falls is the Tak Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre run by Free the Bears. It takes care of animals rescued from illegal poaching and to campaign for better wildlife protection. The Asiatic (moon) bear are an endangered species targeted by illegal hunters for use in Chinese medicine – bile from their gall bladders are extracted for days while the animal is held in a cage – often for years.
The centre is home to 20 rescued bears and they enjoy large enclosures in the forest with fresh water streams to drink from and lots of enriched spaces for them to play. Funds generated are invested in local staff and education programmes to protect the animals.
10. Take part in a Baci ceremony
This ancient ceremony is an ancient part of Laotian animist belief and happens at weddings, births or when welcoming friends to bring good luck. We can arrange a Baci followed by a traditional dance and dinner with a delicious spread of local dishes to boot.
We can tailor any of the above experiences into your tailormade holiday. Just pop us a message here or give us a call on 020 3740 9322.