The Wanderlust Guide to the best of Laos

Laos has long been a favourite with Wanderlust readers; we give you the inside scoop on the best of this South-East Asian gem

4 mins

Sandwiched between Thailand and Vietnam, Laos offers visitors all the romantic visions associated with South-East Asia: saffron-robed monks, gilded temples and rusty bicycles.

The draw of Luang Prabang – Laos’s ancient capital – is particularly strong. This charming, tranquil place, with its mix of ancient and French colonial architecture, is regularly voted Wanderlust readers’ favourite city.

Some tourists tag a stopover in Luang Prabang to a general tour of South-East Asia. But it’s well worth sticking around and exploring the rest of Laos.

The striking mountainous scenery of Laos’s north is perfect for trekking, rafting and mountain-biking. Here you’ll find the Nam Ha National Protected Area, which is home to elephants, tigers, leopards and nearly 300 species of bird.

Laotian Monks (Wanderlust)

Looking for inspiration?

The beauty of travelling to Laos today is that, at last, you have options. Rock climbing? Check. Drifting down the Mekong on a luxury rice barge? Got it. Want to wander into a village where they look at you as if you’re from Mars? Can do.

What’s more, you can do it all for a fraction of the cost of Thailand – whether it’s £1 for a night in a bare-bones guesthouse or a fine French meal for £5, Laos is one of the least expensive countries in the region to visit. Follow our Laos Travel Blueprint and you’ve got it covered.

If time is an issue, Bamboo Travel recommend three unmissable regions – Luang Nam Tha, in the north-west, Four Thousand Islands in the south and, of course, Luang Prabang, the sleepy former capital.

Speaking of Luang Prabang, Mark Stratton nominates his top 5 things to see and do there. Lyn Hughes, honorary judge in the 2012 Miss Lao New Year beauty pageant, recommends looking for the beauty and grace beyond Luang Prabang too.

More information

Laos Travel Blueprint: 4 trips through a vibrant Asian nation – The Wanderlust Team

Top 3 unmissable regions in Laos – Bamboo Travel

Luang Prabang, Laos: The Top 5 Guide – Mark Stratton

Laos: Luang Prabang and beyond – Lyn Hughes

Hmm .. noodles (Wanderlust)

Laos’ secrets revealed

The country is increasingly popular with tourists, so there aren’t too many corners of Laos that remain unexplored. Best then to take Mark Stratton’s advice and head up to the northern town of Viegxay, pronto. Home to thousands of guerrilla fighters in the 1960s, the spectacular limestone caves of northeast Laos are now open to travellers.

Lyn Hughes reveals the 5 things she wish she’d known before visiting Laos. Consider yourself forewarned and forearmed.

Looking for a tasty meal in Luang Prabang? Trouble is, the best places don’t have names. Luckily, Nick Pulley is on hand to give your step-by-step instructions on how to get to five of Luang Prabang’s best eateries.

More information

Viengxay: the secret underground city of northern Laos – Mark Stratton

5 things I wish I'd known before visiting Laos – Lyn Hughes

Where to eat in Luang Prabang – Nick Pulley

Water Festival (Wanderlust)

Capturing it all on film

Capturing the colour and chaos of Laos isn’t easy at the best of times, let alone during the country’s notorious water festivals. Thankfully our resident photography guru, Steve Davey, is on hand to advise you on how to get it all on film.

If it’s inspiration you’re after, look no further than the amazing photos taken by our readers when they visited Laos.

More information

Take Better Travel Photos: Water Festivals – Steve Davey

Readers' Photos

Wat (Wanderlust)

Everything you need to know

Ready to start planning your trip? Our Laos Travel Guide is the perfect place to start. Make sure you drop by our Laos Essential Info page too, for more everyday (but equally vital) information.

If you have a particular question about Laos, pop over to the myWanderlust forum, where our knowledgeable community are ready to spring into action and share all that they know. Or, check out the questions people have already asked about Laos. The answer to yours might already be there.

More information

Laos Travel Guide – Wanderlust Team

Laos Essential Info – Wanderlust Team

MyWanderlust Forum

Laos Q&A

Monks in a line (wanderlust)

Ready to go?

Here’s a selection of fantastic tours offered by our partners. From adventurous trips to the country's hidden corners to in-depth discoveries of its World Heritage wonders, there’s something to suit every taste and budget...

More information

Our Trip Finder can help you find adventures in Laos

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