In the heart of northern Laos lies Luang Prabang, a picturesque town added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995 for its unique architecture. Sitting in the center of its old town is the emblem of Luang Prabang, Mount Phousi, a towering natural structure which is over 100 meters high. The climb uphill here can be exhausting, but it will reward with unforgettable views. Overlooking the city, the mountain is an excellent spot for watching spectacular sunrises and sunsets over the Mekong River. At the top of the mountain, as well as at the base and along the way uphill, there are several original and breathtaking temples where you can make offerings and pray for good luck.
Kuang Si Falls
The beauty of Luang Ptabang is not limited to Mount Phousi; Kuang Si Falls is another exceptional gift of nature given to the region. The waterfall is located 29 kilometers south of the city, and is the largest waterfall in the province, with the highest drop reaching 50 meters. Given the tropical weather of Laos, diving into the streams and swimming excitedly in the cool, aqua water here are very popular activities to partake in at Kuang Si Falls.
Khone Phapheng Falls
Bordering Cambodia, and located in Champasak of Southern Laos, Khone Phapheng Falls are the largest set of cascading waterfalls in Southeast Asia. They form part of the Mekong River and the islands of Si Phan Don, and although the drop here is not as high as that of Kuang Si Falls, the water has a strong flow and its fall can be over 9 kilometers long. As well as many different kinds of fish, Irrawaddy dolphins and the endangered Mekong giant catfish can be found swimming in the streams of Khone Phapheng Falls.
Along with the Champasak Cultural Landscape, Vat Phou is the second inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List of Laos. Vat Phou, meaning ‘mountain temple’ in English, are the ruins of a Khmer Hindu temple dated back to the 5th century. Blended into the surrounding nature, the remains of Vat Phou are dotted charmingly all over the mountain top and the waterfront. In the ruins of the temple visitors here can follow the traces of the Khmer Empire from a thousand years ago, with inscriptions and altars still clearly visible. Opening hours: Daily 8am-6pm
Situated in Laos’ capital, Vientiane, Buddha Park is an extremely popular spot. It is not a temple, as its religious name could suggest, but rather a public park, with over 200 religious sculptures that tower at over 40 meters high. The Buddha Park, also known as ‘the spirit city’, is exceptional not only because of its large number of gigantic stone sculptures, but it is also unique because the sculptures include both Hindu and Buddhist figures. Buddhism and Hinduism are believed to come from the same origin, and after studying both religions, Bunleua Sulilat, the creator of the park, decided to put the Hindu and Buddhist sculptures together to create an innovative spectacle. Unlike in temples, you can have a picnic at the park and even enjoy a beer.
Tham Phu Kham Cave and Blue Lagoon
Although not close to the city center of Vang Vieng, the Tham Phu Kham Cave and Blue Lagoon are still incredibly popular with tourists; the area is truly enchanting. With a name derived from the spectacular, glassy color of the water, the best way to enjoy your time here is to jump enthusiastically into the lagoon. Not far away from the beautiful water sits the Tham Phu Kham Cave, a site featuring a bronzed Buddha figure in the middle of the main entrance, and a place revered as sacred by locals. A feeling of mystery is exuded here thanks to the shining Buddhist sculpture being the only thing in the cave.
Kong Lor Cave
Going to the Kong Lor Cave is to partake in an exciting, other-worldly adventure. Sometimes called Tham Kang Lo, the cave is located in Phu Hin Bun National Park, and features miles of underground, glistening caves ready for exploration. Bring a torch and voyage into the darkness on foot, or sail a small boat on the waters of the Nam Bun River near the site, with both expeditions providing chances to see the wondrous limestone formations the caves have to offer.