The ‘Land of a Million Elephants’, so is the name bestowed upon the country in the heart of Indochina: Laos. Somewhat lesser known as a tourist spot, Laos does not enjoy the same popularity in terms of foreigners visiting its many attractions – both natural and cultural – but, it certainly does not lose to its neighbours in terms of its worth as a getaway for a wearied soul. If you are intrigued, then read on below for some of the most popular locations that you should visit in Laos:
- Luan Prabang – any list or documentary about Laos tourist hotspots should definitely start with the beauty that is Luan Prabang. The ancient capital of the historical kingdom of Lan Xang Hom Khao (literally, the ‘Kingdom of a Million Elephants under the White Parasol’ – where the country get its moniker from), Luan Prabang itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Beyond the former royal palaces and a thirty or so Buddhist temples are swathes of unspoilt natural beauty in the form of waterfalls and pristine forests. There are also traces of French influence as edifices of a more recent colonial era stand together with the crumbling historical buildings of the old kingdom.
- Vientiane – Luan Prabang, located in the north of Laos, overlooks its present capital of Vientiane. Whereas Luan Prabang is exclusively a retreat for adventure and exploration, the present capital also includes the other side of tourist activities, namely relaxation. The many Vientiane bars and clubs are more than capable of catering to the needs of Western tourists, and the many hotels of the capitals are luxurious whilst still retaining the cultural touches of the country. Of course, the capital is not a mere resting place – there are plenty of spots to visit whilst in Vientiane, including the many different temples and the old colonial offices and buildings.
- The Bolavan Plateau – following a rest at the bars in Vientiane, you should definitely move southwards to witness the natural beauty of the Bolavan Plateau. At a height of over a thousand metres from sea level, some of the most breathtakingly beautiful waterfalls of Southeast Asia can be seen here (examples include the Tad Fane and the Taat Fang waterfalls). In addition to the beautiful scenery of the plateau are also the colourful ethnic villages and the fertile plains that grow some of the best produce of the country, such as the coffee and tea Laos is very much famous for.
- The Plain of Jars – and finally, do not forget to include this final destination in your plans for a visit to Laos. One of the most enigmatic attractions of the Indochina peninsula, this specific tourist spot features hundreds of jars made of sandstone and similar stone materials – and thought to be over two thousand years old – embedded in the soil over an area spanning tens of kilometres.