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9 reasons Laos should be on your Bucket List

written by Intrepid Travel February 23, 2015

Travellers are always banging on about Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia – but little ol’ Laos often goes overlooked. We here at Intrepid think that’s a crying shame because as great as the rest of Indochina is, there’s something special about Laos.

Maybe we just like rooting for the underdog. But when you dig a little deeper, there’s no denying that Laos packs more than enough punch to make it a real contender for your favourite destination in Southeast Asia.

Why Laos should be on your bucket list

1. It’s super chill


Image c/o Simon Matzinger, Flickr

We’re calling it – Laos is the most relaxed country in Asia. No one is in a hurry. You might find a shopkeeper  asleep, operating on a trust system until he has finished his nap. The country is also really fertile, but the locals are content with just harvesting one rice crop a year.

2. The food is awesome

You’re far more likely to find a Vietnamese or Thai restaurant in your neighbourhood, so this one might surprise you, but hear us out. Nothing in Laos is processed – everything is fresh, healthy and flavoursome. Everywhere you turn, you’ll likely stumble across mountains of fresh herbs, sticky rice, steamed fish and crunchy salads. Food porn in Laos is real.

3. The sunsets are mind-altering


Image c/o Willy Verhulst, Flickr

Whether it’s over the Mekong, from a vantage point over Luang Prabang or across the rice fields or a rooftop bar in Vientiane – the lack of light and industrial pollution in Laos makes for clear, crisp and spectacular sunsets.

4. Waterfalls for days

laos-travel-guide--- lorna

Image c/o Lorna, Flickr

The high annual rainfall and extensive rivers combine with mountainous terrain to create some of the world’s most impressive waterfalls. For locals, waterfalls are the ideal spot for family picnics and spending time outdoors.

For travellers, the Kuang Si Falls outside of Luang Prabang are the most accessible in all senses of the word. Not only are they easy to get to, but you can paddle and play in the huge complex of natural falls and pools. Get there!

5. It’s really, really green


Image c/o Ville Miettinen, Flickr

Everywhere in Laos is green and lush. Forests, rice fields, mountainsides, jungle, the huge variety of vegetables in the markets, the moss growing on ancient ruins… You can’t move without being visually assaulted by some shade of jade.


6. World-class handicrafts


Image c/o yeowatzup, Flickr

And not just the “hill tribe” embroidery you see all over South East Asia (much of which now factory made for tourists). Laos has plenty of authentic textiles for sale from local artisans, in both traditional and more contemporary styles. The Hmong Story Cloths which tell creation stories, myths and folk tales, in particular, are pretty special.

7. Coffee culture


Image c/o Jurriaan Persyn, Flickr

An awesome coffee scene is one good thing the French colonialists left behind…

8. It’s Buddhist (and communist)


Image c/o Ahron de Leeuw, Flickr

You might never guess that Laos has a communist government given the prevalence of Buddhism in the country, but it does. In fact, it’s one of only five remaining communist countries in the world (the others being China, Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba).

9. Laos cares


Image c/o Khana Hmoong, Flickr

Laos has made a huge commitment to responsible tourism and is eager to be South East Asia’s premier eco-tourism destination. With many community based tourism initiatives, social enterprises to visit for meals and shopping as well as Intrepid Foundation projects to support, visitors to Laos can travel responsibly without much effort. It’s a win for you, a win for Laos, and a win for the planet.

Ready to find out why Laos rhymes with wow? (Sorry). Check out our Laotian small group trips.

Feeling inspired?

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Vietnam June 16, 2017 - 5:25 pm

Laos is the most pristine country in Southeast Asia. Hiding its spectacular charm from the outside world, its beauty lies in intact culture, century-old traditions and heritage, graceful landscapes and quite possibly the most chilled-out people on earth

Les Petits Pas de Juls May 10, 2017 - 3:49 am

My favorite country in South East Asia! I only have very fond memories of Laos, where I learned what green really was, biking to Kung Sí Falls, chilling by the Mekong and those beautiful sunsets! Everything you mention here strike a chord un my memory and my heart beats faster!
Thanks for the lovely post!

Walter Mason January 27, 2016 - 6:19 pm

What a great list! Laos is such a wonderful place, and one I always want to go back to. Thanks for giving me so many reasons 🙂

Your Vietnam Travel January 20, 2016 - 12:27 am

Woww.. it’s still an amazing place to visit in Southeast Asia region, i would definitely travel again. Thank you very much for sharing @Intrepid

Elaine Parnell September 5, 2015 - 8:34 pm

It is on our family bucket list (2017 maybe) and looks like a fabulous family destination. Please create a family trip to Laos!

Carmen B July 26, 2015 - 3:36 am

Nice post! We experienced many of these in our recent trip to Laos… check my blog for more inspiration and tips: http://bonatravels.com/2015/07/25/country-summary-laos/

Elliott - The Nomad Notes July 13, 2015 - 6:29 pm

You’re right. Laos is awesome and everyone should experience it! I have to disagree about the food though. I didn’t find anything special and they lack their original dishes. But, the country is straight up epic.

luxury travel vietnam May 27, 2015 - 12:16 pm

Laos has more than those mentioned above to offer, its a cultural sophisticated country with smiley people. Thanks Intrepid Travel for sharing to us. Keep it up 🙂

Shannon from Eat Well Travel Often March 9, 2015 - 6:23 pm

Looks amazing, will add it to my list!

Uptourist February 26, 2015 - 12:32 pm

That place is so simple and beautiful that it is like you are enjoying the world for what it is and without all the useless frills.


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