|Airport City||Wattay International Airport, Luang Prabang Airport, Pakse International Airport,|
|Offical Languages||Lao, Lao-Kao, Sawanakhet, English, Luang Phrabang|
|National Animal||Indian elephant|
|Food||Lao Noodle Soup, Baguettes, Minced Pork Salad|
Autumn : Sep - Dec
Summer : Jun - Sep
Winter : Dec - Mar
Sprint : Mar - Jun
Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of Luang Prabang Province in northern Laos, lies in a valley at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers. Inhabited for thousands of years, it was the royal capital of the country until 1975. It’s known for its many Buddhist temples, including the gilded Wat Xieng Thong, dating to the 16th century, and Wat Mai, once the residence of the head of Laotian Buddhism.
Vientiane, Laos' national capital, mixes French-colonial architecture with Buddhist temples such as the golden, 16th-century Pha That Luang, which is a national symbol. Along broad boulevards and tree-lined streets are many notable shrines including Wat Si Saket, which features thousands of Buddha images, and Wat Si Muang, built atop a Hindu shrine.
All along the Mekong River, the high, craggy limestone cliffs are packed with an innumerable amount of caves. Among this multitude, two stand apart, renowned for their beautifully imperfect contents.
Primarily a religious site, the Pak Ou Buddha Caves are located inside a steep rock face that droops over the sacred site like tobacco-stained teeth. Accessed by a brilliant white-washed, zigzagging staircase, the boats dock at the bottom and allow for pilgrims and tourists alike to ascend into the upper and lower caves for exploration.
Once inside, visitors are met with thousands of statues of the Buddha. Ranging in size, quality, and material, the only factor uniting these effigies are their minor imperfections. Roam long enough, and you can spot each; some are missing hands and or have chipped faces, while others list to the side or were replaced by newer versions less love-worn from ages of devotion.
It is also known as Tat Kuang Si waterfall. These waterfalls are favourite for tourists if they get bored of the temples in Luang Pranag.
Kuang Si (Xi) Waterfall is the biggest in the Luang Prabang area with three tiers leading to a 50-metre drop into spectacular azure pools before flowing downstream. Hire a tuk-tuk or minibus for a ride to this refreshing and pleasant area. The falls are accessed via a trail to a left of the falls. Most of the pools are open to swimming (although at least one is closed as being a sacred site).
Mount Phousi, standing at 100 metres above sea level, is Luang Prabang’s highest hill. It’s popular as a place to watch the sun rise or set over the Mekong River. From the summit, you can enjoy a spectacular panoramic view across the city and its many temples, and over the surrounding landscape to the mountains in the distance.
It takes more than 300 steps to reach the top of Mount Phousi, with several resting places along the way. The climb is gentle enough for anyone with good health. There’s another set of steps down that will lead to several temples of Luang Prabang.
Wat Xieng Thong ("Temple of the Golden City") is a Buddhist temple (wat) on the northern tip of the peninsula of Luang Phrabang, Laos. Wat Xieng Thong is one of the most important of Lao monasteries and remains a significant monument to the spirit of religion, royalty and traditional art. There are over 20 structures on the grounds including a sim, shrines, pavilions and residences, in addition to its gardens of flowers, ornamental shrubs, and trees.
The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC) has been a private non-profit making museum devoted to the different ethnic groups in Laos.
Situated in a historical building, protected by UNESCO, the permanent exhibition that the museum offers to the public shows items of ethnic clothing, religious artefacts, working tools… Its intention is to increase understanding of the different ways of life and the traditions of different ethnic groups in Laos.
The Centre as well as TAEC Boutique in Ban Vat Sene on the main road offers certain items for sale, books, photos, and local handmade craftsmanship.
Tad Sae Waterfall is a spectacular natural wonder you can enjoy during the wet season in Luang Prabang. The cascades aren’t as high as Kuang Si waterfall, but there are many more streams of water pouring over unique limestone formations. You can also go for a swim in large pools below the falls.
Tad Sae is only reachable by boat, giving you an opportunity to retreat into nature. Locals often visit the falls over the weekend, so better off visiting during the week if you’re not a fan of crowds. The best time to visit Tad Sae Waterfall is from August through November. There are steps leading into the largest pool, which makes swimming access really easy.
The Royal Palace in Luang Prabang also known as “Haw Kham” and translated to “Golden Palace” was once Laos’ Royal Palace. The former Royal Palace is located on the banks of the Mekong River and faces the Mount Phousi. The palace houses a lot of historical items with interesting stories behind. The Royal palace is worth a visit, and you will learn more about Lao history and culture.
Evoking traditional Lao and French beaux-arts styles, the former Royal Palace was built in 1904 and was home to King Sisavang Vong (r 1905–59), whose statue stands outside. Within are tasteful, decidedly sober residential quarters, with some rooms preserved much as they were when the king's son (and successor) was captured by the Pathet Lao in 1975. A separate outbuilding displays the five-piece Royal Palace Car Collection.
Buddha Park is a sculpture garden housing a collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures in a park like setting on the banks of the Mekong river outside Vientiane.
The park, also known as Xieng Khuan and Xiengkuane Buddha Park was built in 1958 by Luang Pu Bounleua Sulilat, a Laos national who later moved to Thailand where he created a similar park named Sala Keoku in Nong Khai, on the other side of the Mekong river.
Although often referred to as Wat Xiengkuane (Wat meaning temple), Buddha Park is not a temple, even though some of its sculptures like a large reclining Buddha are worshipped by local Buddhists.
Lao is quite well known for its silk woven products. The country's Silk fabric is appreciated for its exquisite beauty and fine workmanship. The technique used is sophisticated and potentially one of the most complex weaving techniques that exists. It requires as high level of perseversnce and artistic talent to create exquisite fabrics, whose colors are natural products dyes.
Weaving, as practiced by Lao people, depicts their way of life, their environment and spiritualbeliefs and is thought by many to be an example of successful combination of the local knowledge and silk of the people of South East Asia.
Patuxai is one of Vientiane’s most noticeable landmarks. The impressive arch is found in the center of Vientiane on the end of Lane Xang Avenue, the road that leads to the Presidential Palace.
Patuxai, which translates to “Victory Gate” is a massive concrete monument with a wide avenue leading to it similar in style to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France. The Patuxai or Patuxay was built in the 1960’s as a memorial for those who gave their lives serving their country in several wars.
On all of its four sides is a large arched gateway. Although the design is clearly inspired by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the upper part and decoration is typical Laos style. The arches’ ceilings contain Laos style ornamentations, like depictions of the Hindu Gods Brahma and Vishnu, as well as mythological creatures as kinnaree and the three headed elephant Erawan.
Wat Si Muang is a Khmer temple with a fascinating legend that still holds great significance among the Laotian community. The gold structure was built in 1563, during the reign of King Setthathirat.
As this central pillar also formed the centre of the town, Wat Si Muang is also called the ‘mother temple’ of Vientiane. There is a small statue of Si Muang behind the building, along with a heap of bricks that are said to date back to her time.
The temple is next to King Sisavang Vong's monument, which you can visit by passing a gate within the temple grounds. Wat Si Muang serves the local Buddhist community, and has several stalls at the entrance selling bananas, coconuts, flowers, incense and candles for offerings.
Talat Sao Vientiane is both a shopping mall (with air-conditioning) and morning market in central Vientiane. Its outdoor section has narrow walkways lined with market-style souvenir stalls, while the mall spans 5 floors, housing shops, banks, and currency exchange services.
The shopping mall is where you can shop for clothes, sports equipment, and jewellery. There’s also a cinema and arcade centre, both popular among those looking to escape the heat and humidity. Head to the 4th floor to find a large food court, where you can enjoy a wide range of local and international dishes.
Vientiane boasts several beautiful temples or wats, but one of the most impressive and interesting of them is Wat Ho Phra Keo. It was originally constructed in 1565 as the Lao royal family’s personal chapel, and as a home for the Emerald Buddha after it was snatched from northern Siam (Thailand). This sacred jade statue was reclaimed by the Siamese in 1778 and now sits in Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok.
Even without the Emerald Buddha, however, Ho Phra Keo is well worth a visit. The only part of the old royal palace that has survived, the temple is no longer used for religious purposes and is now a museum. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, as it is often known in English, is richly adorned with carved wooden features, a magnificent 16th century lacquered door with Hindu carvings, numerous Khmer stone carvings and a variety of Buddha statues.
1 ) Pi Mai
Festival Month - April
Lao New Year, also called Pi Mai or Songkran, is celebrated in Laos from April 14-16. This festival is officially three days long, but it usually lasts a full week and includes huge water fights, where people get doused with water and flour in the streets by strangers. Carry an umbrella and join in the fun. Parades in cities, especially Luang Prabang and Vientiane (to a lesser extent), have people dressed in traditional masks retelling the history and folklore of Laos and Buddhism. Temples and homes are cleaned for the New Year, and the faithful make offerings. Beauty pageants, baci ceremonies and traditional music and dance round out the festivities.
2 ) Boun Bung Fai
Festival Month - July
The date of Boun Bung Fai, or the Lao Rocket Festival varies by region and sometimes by village. Festivals take place in May, June and July. Villagers ask the spirits to end the hot season and bring on the rains by launching homemade rockets. Winners are those whose rockets fly highest and burn brightest. Losers are thrown in the mud. Spectators watch the show, hear the judges remarks and eat and drink.
3 ) Vat Phou / Wat Phou
Festival Month - February
Along with the Champasak Cultural Landscape, the 5th century Khmer ruins of Wat Phou is the second inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List of Laos. In late January or early February the faithful flock from Laos, Cambodia and Thailand to the temple Wat Phou, meaning ‘mountain temple.’ Boun Wat Phou festivities include boat racing, cock fighting, dancing and, of course, drinking. Blended into the surrounding nature, the remains of Wat Phou are dotted all over the mountain face. Oriented toward the east, the ruins have two large reservoirs on either side of a long column-lined road, leading toward the mountains. Past the palace ruins, up a steep staircase, you’ll find the sanctuary with a modern Buddhist shrine and a natural spring considered to be sacred.