Home Laos Top 3 Beach Alternatives in Laos

Top 3 Beach Alternatives in Laos

Don't let the fact that there are no beaches in Laos put you off visiting. Discover the best beach alternatives in Laos for sun and swimming.

by Becky Grainger
4000 islands river and mountain view in Laos

Beautiful, beguiling, packed with fascinating history – and landlocked. For many people, the fact that there is no beach in Laos will greatly diminish its appeal as a holiday destination. Perhaps, for the militant beach bunny, this will push it off the table altogether.

But to disregard a holiday to Laos on this basis would be a mistake in my opinion. I’ve worked in travel for over ten years, and I think Laos is one of the most relaxing places I’ve ever been to. There are many breathtaking riverside spots that offer the same rejuvenating atmosphere as a beach, as well as scope for swimming, sunbathing and all-round lounging.

What’s more, Laos hasn’t been built up for tourism to anywhere near the same extent as its neighbours like Thailand and Vietnam. But, ironically, this comparative lack of development is now what makes the country so appealing. Laos retains a feeling of untouched calm that is getting harder to find in Southeast Asia these days. In fact, in an article inspired by a trip I organised, acclaimed journalist Andrew Eames said that Laos embodies the ‘Southeast Asia of old’.

So here are three of our favourite beach alternatives in Laos for those who are typically drawn to sand and sea. I guarantee that they’ll make you wonder why you ever needed a beach, anyway!

Sunset as a boat sails down the Mekong River in Laos

1. Don Daeng Island

Don Daeng is a sleepy, atmospheric island located in the middle of the Mekong River in Southern Laos. Roughly thirty kilometres from Pakse and accessible only by boat, life on Don Daeng remains by and large traditional and authentic; it is car-free and dotted with temples, while the centre is dominated by rice fields. Crucially for beach -lovers, the island is also home to sandy banks, so this is probably the closest you will get to real beach alternatives in Laos.

Swimming pool at La Folie Lodge
Staff member getting fresh ingredients from the vegetable plot at La Folie Lodge

Recommended hotel: La Folie Lodge

Situated right on the banks of Dong Daeng, La Folie Lodge is a great base for exploring this lush and fascinating area of the countryside. It retains a sense of idyllic tranquillity ideal for some true R&R. Each of the hotel’s 24 spacious bungalow rooms is equipped with its own balcony and stunning river views.

The lodge is also within easy reach of the UNESCO world heritage sites of Wat Phou, the Bolaven Plateau and a variety of spectacular waterfalls. Each guest is provided with a bicycle so you can also easily explore remote villages, which is often just as much fun as checking out the main sights.

Sunset at Muang La in northern Laos

2. Vang Vieng

Remember when Vang Vieng was pretty much a synonym for backpacker parties? Well, those days are a distant memory. Now, picture a serene sanctuary set against a dramatic backdrop of towering limestone cliffs and the gentle flow of the Nam Song River. This is the new Vang Vieng, a place that’s morphed into an absolute haven for both adrenaline seekers and those of us craving a bit of peace and quiet.

Whether you fancy gliding down the Nam Song River in a kayak, witnessing the sunrise from a hot air balloon, or exploring secret caves, Vang Vieng offers an endless playground for your outdoor cravings.

What’s even better, getting there has never been easier. Thanks to a spanking new train service from Luang Prabang, the trek that used to take a whole day now zips by in just an hour.

Recommended hotel: Riverside Boutique Resort

Nestling on the banks of the Nam Song River, the Riverside Boutique Resort is a perfect example of Vang Vieng’s transformation. Imagine waking up to a view of mist-clad mountains and the tranquil river right from your window. This place isn’t just about luxury; it’s about immersion—into Laos’s rich culture, its vibrant heritage, and, of course, its breathtaking natural beauty.

Every nook of the resort speaks to its commitment to sustainability and cultural preservation, offering a stay that’s as responsible as it is luxurious. And the food? Oh, you’re in for a treat. The resort prides itself on serving dishes brimming with local flavours, all made from ingredients sourced right from their backyard.

Riverside boutique resort vang vieng outside

3. 4000 Islands

Si Phan Don, or 4000 islands, is a region in Laos where the Mekong expands into a wide archipelago and the water slows. The rather poetic name is scarcely an exaggeration; it is comprised of innumerable islets and islands, some of which are submerged in rainy reason. It’s a wonderfully relaxing place sprinkled with charming towns and locals living a life in harmony with the rise and submission of water as the seasons pass.

Sala Dhone Boutique Hotel in southern laos on the banks of the mekong river
One of the french colonial buildings of Sala Don Khone in southern Laos

Recommended Hotel: Sala Dhone Khone

From the moment you arrive at Sala Dhone Khone, you feel that you’re part of the island’s village community; the bungalows are surrounded by tropical gardens and banana plantations and there is a family of chickens outside. Stay in either one of the hotel’s eight floating rooms, where you can enjoy air conditioning and electricity while being as close to the river as possible, or land-based French rooms which possess a quaint colonial feel.

The whole area has a rural farm feel to it and Done Khone itself has plenty of activities. It is possible to hire bicycles from the hotel to ride through bustling villages and along sandy paths to see a beautiful waterfall on the island. A slightly longer bike ride will take you right to the tip of Done Khone where you can look across the expanse of the Mekong to glimpse the faint outline of Cambodia in the distance. From here a local boat can take you out to see some of the Mekong’s rarest and most precious inhabitants: the Irrawaddy river dolphins.

Do you think we’re missing any beach alternatives in Laos?  Get in touch and let us know.

 Beach Alternatives in Nearby Countries: 

If these beach alternatives in landlocked Laos haven’t quite cured your need for the sea, then consider combining your trip with one of these coastal countries. Not only do these surrounding countries have some of the most picturesque beaches in the world, but they also offer an opportunity to immerse yourself in another rich culture during your time in Asia.

Find out about Cambodia’s best beaches

Explore Thailand’s secluded beaches

Discover paradise on the beaches of Vietnam

A sky view of the small beach paradise Phu Quoc Vietnam
A sky view of the small beach paradise Phu Quoc Vietnam

You may also like