What to See in Laos?
Luang Prabang World Heritage City
According to legend the Buddha smiled when he rested in Luang Prabang for a day during his travels, prophesying that it would one day be the site of a rich and powerful city.
Situated in northern Laos the township of Luang Prabang sits on a peninsular at the confluence of two rivers, the Nam Khan and the famous Mekong. With its charming combination of timber Lao houses and European colonial architecture it is easy to see why UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site in 1995.
Luang Prabang was the capital of the Lan Xang Kingdom until 1545 when King Phothisarat moved the administrative seat to Vientiane. The town of Luang Prabang owes its present name to the Pha Bang, a revered Buddha image (now in the Royal Palace Museum) which was brought to the town in the early 1500s.
Wat Phu (meaning ‘mountain temple’), is situated on a hillside and offers stunning views over the surrounding land and Mekong River. Visitors who appreciate art and history will be amazed by the magnificent workmanship in this ruined Khmer temple complex in the form of temple pillars, barays, lintels, pediments, terrace, courtyard, walls, doorways, sanctuary, shrine, library and palaces.
There is also a natural spring that is believed by locals to emit holy water. Older than the great temple complex at Angkor in Cambodia, Wat Phu was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2002.
Plain of Jars
The Plain of Jars is considered the most distinctive and enigmatic of all Laos attractions. The large area around Phonsavan, the main city of Xieng Khouang Province is dotted with stone jars but no one has a clear idea as to why they are there.
The mysterious jars were carved from both sandstone and granite in various sizes from very small to about 3.5 metres high and are thought to be more than 2,000 years old. Legend has it that they were made to store rice wine while some believe they were for storing the dead. Until today the function of the jars is still disputed.
Pha That Luang (or That Luang Stupa or Stupa Luang) is an impressive gold-covered Buddhist stupa in the centre of Vientiane, Laos. First built in 3rd century, the stupa has undergone several reconstructions until the 1930s due to foreign invasions to the area. Pha That Luang is considered the most important national monument and officially a national symbol of Laos.
The beautiful architecture is in Lao style, influenced by Buddhist beliefs – these include finely-gilded, red-lacquer doors, pointed lesser stupas, many Buddha ../../img and beautiful flower and animal ../../img
Built during the 16th Century by King Saysetthathirath, Wat Xieng Thong temple is one of the most interesting examples of Buddhist art and architecture in Luang Prabang and arguably one of the most beautiful temples in Asia. The ornate carved and gilded funeral vehicle of the former king is kept in one of the buildings in the temple grounds. This temple was used for the the most important Royal ceremonies and houses the bones of King Sisavangvong.
Open daily, Time: 08:00AM-05:30PM, Entrance Fee: 20,000kip (US$3)
Tad Kwang Si Waterfall
Situated 25km south of Luang Prabang, Kwang Si Waterfall makes for an excellent daytrip. Accessible by tuk-tuk, minivan, Motorcycle or bicycle. The 650 feet high waterfall is at its most picturesque during the wet season however it can be visited year-round. Children are not recommended to climb to the top of the waterfall, but they can swim in the various pools at the bottom. Walkways and there are many small restaurant available to service you and the Kwang si waterfall area is good for a picnic. On the road out to Kwang Si Waterfall, there are a number of villages housing traditional hydro-rice mills.
Don Det is the most popular and most lively island in the river archipelago. If typical backpackers come to the 4000 islands, this is their preferred island. If you are searching for bungalows overlooking the Mekong and a place to soak up the sun with a frenzy of other gap-year backpackers, you might love Don Det.
Khone Phapheng Waterfall
Just 13 kilometres from the Cambodian border and east of Don Khon on the Mekong River is the pearl of the Mekong, Khone Phapheng Waterfall. Here the Mekong Cascades across a wide fault line, which slopes in a curvilinear pattern and causes the river to pass through with awesome power. Khone Phapheng is the largest waterfall by water volume in due to its great power and steep descent, the waterfall renders this area of the Mekong unnavigable, before flowing peacefully south into Cambodia and Vietnam.