Within a very short time of being discovered by modern Western travellers, holidays in Laos earned an extremely laid-back reputation. That said, if you’re hoping to find adventure in Laos,you will be easily rewarded. There are dozens of itineraries designed to provide the kind of naturally induced adrenaline rush only a serenely beautiful landscape as Laos could provide.
Some of the highlights include:
- walking tours of traditional villages surrounded by Laos’ golden temples
- swimming at the base of the Kuang Si Waterfall
- enjoying the rivers of Van Vieng via kayaking, caving or “tubing”, where intrepid (or crazy, depending on your opinion) water-lovers sit on an inflated tractor inner-tube & spin on downriver
- taking a elephant ride outside the Khmer Temple complex
- spotting rare freshwater dolphins at the base of the largest waterfall in Asia
- trekking, hiking & mountain-biking through the jungle
Jungles and Tribes
A country like Laos can provide more obvious forms of adventure should you seek them, but in such a diversely beautiful country adventure needn’t be sought out. Plan your holiday around the forests, jungles and indigenous tribes of Laos and you may well discover an adventure beyond any form of adrenaline rush.
Whether you opt for a guided itinerary or plan your route yourself, you’ll find it easy to immerse yourself in the local villages, where the markets positively bombard the senses. A trek to the mountains and plateaus of Luang Namtha will reveal truly stunning scenery before meeting the Akha Puli people of the local village. The National Parks of Laos offer dozens of walking and cycling routes, and the recently discovered Nong Khiaw trail offers a trek best know as the “100 Waterfalls”.
Temples and Spirituality
Almost as you’d expect, Buddhist temples of varying sizes but comparable beauty are found throughout Laos. What may surprise you is the sheer number of temples localised within small areas, making a temple based tour easily arranged but difficult to equal.
Luang Prabang is home to over 30 temples and 50 monasteries. One of the best known temples in this small town, Wat Xieng Thong, was spared from destruction towards the end of the nineteenth century and is one of the few temples that has been continuously in use since it was built in 1560. Luang Prabang also contains resorts like the Zen Nam Khan, where guests can enjoy meditative and yogic retreats. Accommodation takes the form of comfortable and spacious thatched bungalows, and the palpable atmosphere of the surroundings make an ideal setting for yoga practice, broken up with walks, swimming, boat tours and elephant rides.
South Asia’s most enigmatic attraction, the Plain of Jars, resides in north east Laos. Hundreds of stone urns dot a landscape scarred by the bombings of the Vietnam war, forming a beautiful and haunting contrast between the ancient and modern. Nobody is certain why the Jars were originally created – local legend cites giant men, but archaeologists err for the more cautious theory that they were burial chambers, built to hold ancestral remains, & any treasures the departed might need in the afterlife.