If you don’t know where to start, here are some recommendations that should come in handy:
1. That Luang Stupa: This grand stupa is one of the most important places of worship for the Lao people. Believed to have been built in the 3rd century AD, the stupa has been rebuilt many times after damaged caused by wars and foreign invasions. The temples around the stupa are brightly decorated with paintings from the Jataka Tales, showcasing the previous lives of Lord Buddha, as well as a huge reclining Buddha. At weekends and in the evenings, people gather to meet friends and enjoy the gardens and open spaces the temple grounds provide. Every November, this golden stupa hosts a major festival when monks from around the country come to the city and everyone gathers on the morning of the full moon to give alms.
2. Vang Vieng: Whether you are an adventure junkie or a nature lover or someone who just wants to relax in a quiet and comfortable retreat, Vang Vieng is the perfect place to unwind. Go up on a hot air balloon and watch the sunrise or sunset over striking limestone cliffs or trek up one of the town’s several viewpoints to get a similar aerial view of the mountains, fields, and lush forests all around. There are numerous natural lagoons to visit for a cool dip in the afternoon and tubing or kayaking in the Nam Song river. There are also numerous hotels in town offering services for any type of traveler. Because what could possibly be better than watching the sunset while floating in a swimming pool with a cocktail in hand?
3. Bolaven Plateau: This is a hilly region in Southern Laos that has become famous for its coffee plantations that produce some of the best coffee that is available in the country. The villages of ethnic minorities in the region also hold a great interest for tourists who are keen on discovering a simpler way of life that coexists seamlessly with the surrounding nature and wildlife. Also, visit the waterfalls of Tad Yeuang and Tad Fane that promise spectacular views and walking trails to discover the area around the falls.
4. Kouang Si Waterfall: Easily one of the most popular and most visited waterfalls in Laos, Kouang Si Falls sits about 30 km southwest of Luang Prabang. The water cascades and pools here are clear blue all year round and are irresistible for swimmers and photographers alike. There is also a Bear Rescue Center near the waterfall which cares for and rehabilitates trafficked moon bears and a butterfly park that you could visit. There are also restaurants serving up delicious local food and beverages to help you enjoy a full day here.
5. Wat Xieng Thong: Built in 1560, this temple is considered the jewel of Luang Prabang architecture and has survived several wars and turbulent times. It was built by King Setthathirath as he moved the capital of the country to Vientiane. It still remains a holy space with its fine gilding and colorful mosaics depicting stories of Lao folktales and everyday life.
6. Phongsaly Old Town: Located in the northernmost part of the country, Phongsaly province has a wonderful cool climate for most of the year and Phongsaly city is a great place to explore. The ornate Yunnanese wooden architecture in the old quarter of the city survived the secret war and Phongsaly itself is a blend of Chinese and Lao cultures with many people from the Hor ethnic group speaking Chinese. This makes the culture of the place quite unique, especially when it comes to the food which is a delicious fusion of Lao and Yunnanese flavors. And the local tea is grown in a 400-year-old tea plantation, where fertilizers and other chemicals have never been used. At 1400 meters above sea level, surrounded by stunning limestone mountains and pristine forests, this city is an extraordinary place to visit. And at night, with little light pollution, the clear view of the stars is also quite breathtaking.
Learn more about Lao culture and places to visit at the Lao Simply Beautiful Facebook Page.
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