What to Do in Laos?
Tubing in Laos
Now it's arguable whether this is an adventure sport or just a big drinking binge, but either way it deserves a place on this list. Tubing is unique to Laos. For a small fee, a tube can be hired out and you basically chuck yourself in the water and whizz down the Mekong. Some genius (or madman) thought to turn it into a bar crawl and now at the start of the tubing experience and all the way along, bars scatter and haul you in to partake in drinking of quite mad proportions.
Down the river you can fly off huge slides, bounce off giant inflatables and swings and generally get your heart racing. It's often a recipe for disaster however, especially in the dry season when the river is low. Make sure you plan your trip in the wet season, when the water is high and you can drink (or not of course) and cruise down the Mekong safely in a tube. Completely random but utterly brilliant.
Take your time to discover and experience the Lao way of life with one of our wonderful bike and cycling excursions in Laos. Meet people; discover hidden places and the secrets of Laos and Thailand on a 1-3 week guided biking tour. You will find less people and more nature when you cycle in beautiful remote Laos!
The Gibbon Experience
This will be the experience you will notice all over the travel guides and destination brochures, the Gibbon Experiences should be on everyone's bucket list.
You can stay in a tree house in the Bokeo Nature Reserve, which is enough to make you consider this experience alone. You will then explore the area via zip-wire, along the forest canopies. Zip Wiring is right near the top of my bucket list, while the idea of seeing Cornwall via zip-wire hasn't fully intrigued me, however zip-wiring across a forest in Laos to your bed in a tree house is beyond a dream. While zip-wiring through the jungle, you will also get to see some beautiful waterfalls as well as some eye catching sights of wildlife and some stunning landscapes. If you are a bit scared of heights, you can also trek through the forest, which is also recognised as a popular alternative.
Make sure you time this right as the area completely shuts during wet season, therefore check before you book as you will strongly regret visiting the country and missing out on one of the most extreme experiences you can live through.
There is an organized climbing tour in Vang Vieng (Vientiane Province) and Luang prabang, Climbing is a new activity in Laos. So far, the only officially opened areas for climbing are in Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang. With the spectacular limestone landscape in Vang Vieng, north of Vientiane, climbers can access the crags free of charge.
The naturally beautiful Vientiane Province offers visitors the chance to kayak in the number of rivers that flow through its lands. Kayaking allows you to move off the beaten path and to see the natural beauty that Laos has to offer. If you are looking to take a break from the social side of traveling through Laos and undertake an activity, Kayaking could be just what you are looking for.
By undertaking some kayaking, extreme sport adventures can enjoy finding some harder to reach locations. Water Fall, hidden caves and secret trails are all things kayakers can access. Kayak trips will often stop off at local villages where kayakers can enjoy the cultural experience of witnessing authentic village life. Some trips allows guests to combine kayaking with activities such as mountain biking and trekking.
Kayaking trips are offered along a range of rivers in the province. The Nam Xong River, Nam Lik River and the Nam Hin Boun are three popular rivers for kayak tours. The kayaks themselves will usually seat two persons, reducing the physical demands on an individual and also offering someone else to be laughed at in the unlikely event you capsize!
Organized tent camping is available in Phou Khao Khouay National Protected Area through major tour operators in Vang Vieng (Vientiane Province), If you are interested in staying in a simple bamboo forest camp, try the Nam Ha Forest Camp in Luang Namtha's Nam Ha National Protected Area. There is also combination of rafting and camping expeditions available in Luang Prabang Province.
Giving Alms (Feeding the Monks)
Every morning hundreds, if not thousands of monks meander through the streets and partake in “Alms giving” or collecting of alms. Visitors and locals alike participate in this tradition by awaking at sunrise and offering the monks sticky rice with their bare hands.
The experience was described to us as “magical” by several friends. While I did immensely enjoy participating in this and witnessing all the orange-robe-clad monks peacefully wandering the streets at dawn, it wasn't as spiritual as I was told. For one thing, monks are a bit grumpy as it turns out, at dawn. At one point, I, the virgin alms-giver, apparently wasn't moving quickly enough, giving out their rice and I got an eye roll. Yep, a good, old-fashioned, sarcastic, New York eye roll. I was floored. I had to keep from laughing during this silent ritual. All the way in Laos and I felt right at home for a moment. Not to pull an “US Weekly” but I guess Monks really are just like ‘US'.
Despite my sarcasm, I did find this to be really interesting and definitely worth the early morning wake-up call. It was an enlightening and moving experience for the most part. I didn't let my one experience taint the rest.
Lao religious images and art is also distinctive and sets Laos apart from its neighbors. The Calling for Rain posture of Buddha images in Lao, for example, which depicts the Buddha standing with his hands held rigidly at his side, fingers pointing to the ground, cannot be found in other Southeast Asian Buddhist art traditions. Religious influences are also pervasive in classical Lao literature, especially in the Pha Lak, Pha Lam, the Lao version of India s epic Ramayana.
Projects are underway to preserve classic Lao religious scripts, which were transcribed onto palm leaf manuscripts hundreds of years ago and stored in wats. Another excellent example of the richness of Lao culture is in its folk music, which is extremely popular with the people throughout the whole country. The principle instrument is the Khaen; a wind instrument, which comprises a double row of bamboo-like reeds, fitted in a hardwood sound box. The khaen is often accompanied by a bowed string instrument or Saw. The national folk dance is the Lamvong, a circle dance in which people dance circles around each other so that ultimately there are three circles: a circle danced by the individual, another one by the couple, and a third one danced by the whole party.