The Plain of Jars
Covering an area of hundreds of kilometres, the Plain of Jars is home to over 2,500 giant stone jars ranging in height and diameter from around one to three metres. Local legend holds that the jars were used by giants to store rice wine, while another theory suggests that they were huge water butts designed to store rainwater for travellers.
Now, it is thought that they in fact played a role in prehistoric burial practices. Whatever their uses, these vast relics are a fascinating link to an unknown civilisation, and an impressive sight to behold.
Muang Ngoi Neua
Quite a bit more on the map than it was in the past, Muang Ngoi Nuea has embraced its place on the Southeast Asian traveling circuit. But it is still well worth a look for its natural beauty and isolation. Muang Ngoi Nuea is an hour up the river north of Luang Prabang.
You will not find much to do here besides hiking through the mountains or just laying back with a book, but if you are looking to get away, you will not find a more peaceful place to do it. There are no vehicles or even bicycles, and the only electricity is provided by generators for a short time after dark.
Take the slow boat north from Luang Prabang and you will come to Nong Khiaw, the gateway to the stunning scenery of northern Laos. Surrounded by jungle-covered mountains dotted with minority villages and threaded with trekking routes, this is the place to don your walking shoes and explore the forests and communities of the north, all whilst taking advantage of the excellent local accommodation and restaurants.
Take a bus to central Laos to see the limestone karst vistas on the Thkhek loop. Khammouane stretches the width of Laos from the Mekong River border with Thailand to the Annamite Mountain border with Vietnam.
Check out Kong Lor cave via motor boat, swim at Tha Falang or go on a waterfall trek. Organized tours can be booked in Thakhek through Green Discovery. Alternatively there are several motorbike rental outfits for those who want to see the loop on two wheels.
Bokeo Nature Reserve
By far the best way to see Bokeo Nature Reserve is by participating in the increasingly popular Gibbon Experience, a conservation project meant to raise awareness and preserve this magnificent wilderness and the animals who reside there. You can explore rainforest canopy where treehouses, footbridges, and zip-lines all come together to create an adventurous stay in the trees you will never forget.
If there is one reason to visit Sayaboury, it is elephants. The local Elephant Conservation Centre is one of the best and most responsible in the country, giving ex-working elephants a comfortable retirement.
Tourists are not allowed to ride the elephants, but are encouraged to appreciate these gentle giants as they go about their business in peace, making for a relaxed experience in which the elephants’ happiness is clearly the top priority.