“When to travel to Laos?” is one of the questions we’re asked frequently by clients who want to visit the “Land of Elephants.”
That’s when we ask a few questions of our own:
- How do you handle heat?
- Do you enjoy having time to relax with a cool drink and a good book?
- Do you want to visit hill tribes and remote archaeological sites?
- Do you want to travel mostly on land or by boat?
The reason we answer a question with more questions is because the best time to visit Laos depends a lot on the traveler.
For instance, a few hours of rain each day during the wet season (July-Sept.) isn’t a problem for those who like to schedule a little downtime in the daily itinerary.
On the other hand, if you plan on trekking and visiting the hill tribes, you want to avoid the wet season, because the daily deluge means mud and rising rivers that interfere with land travel. And then there are the leeches! Rising water, though, means smooth cruising on the Mekong, if a river cruise is on your bucket list.
What everyone wants to know is just how hot is it in Laos?
Most days are warm and sunny. However the average 80-degree temperature climbs to 100 degrees in March and April, the hottest months of the dry season.
If you can’t handle heat, late spring is not the best time to go to Laos.
Bottom line: Myths and Mountains schedules most package tours and custom tours of Laos from mid-October through February, because those times are the coolest of the dry season months.
Where To Go In Laos
There’s literally something to meet every traveler’s desire in Laos, which is one reason why the European Council on Tourism and Trade awarded it the “World’s Best Tourist Destination,” in 2013.
Myths and Mountains designs tours of Laos that take you to major sites as well as to places and people of particular interest to you.
So whether you’re fascinated by French Colonial architecture or have a passion for animals, you’ll find sites and destinations in Laos that suit your special interest.
Here’s a list of our top ten places to see in Laos, categorized by special interest.
Culture and Crafts in Laos
For generations artisans among the hill tribes of Laos have created high-quality textiles and are especially well known for their intricate silk weaving.
- The Lao Textile Museum in Vientiane is part workshop, part gallery showing contemporary and antique textiles and part classroom where visitors can take classes. And, of course, there’s a shop!
- The Ok Pop Tok Living Craft Center
in Luang Prabang. This is one of the most important textile and artisan institutions in Southeast Asia. If time permits you can take a
class in batik, weaving, and other crafts.
- Weaving villages near the Kouang-Si Waterfalls offer an opportunity to visit the weavers, mostly women, and watch them work.Markets and stores in Luang Prabang and Vientiane have an abundance of crafts for sale.
Nature and Wildlife in Laos
You name the wildlife you’d like to see and chances are Laos has it. Native animals, from Asian elephants to water monitors, Asia’s large lizards, live in this landlocked country. And, with 50 percent of Laotian countryside still primary forest, an adventure tour allows travelers to do everything from kayaking to caving.
- Nam Kan National Park offers a stay in the world’s highest tree house among the gibbons and a zip line through the park’s forest canopy.
- Khone and Pha Pheng falls on the Mekong are the largest waterfalls in Southeast Asia.
- Elephant Village in Ban Xieng Lam village is a sanctuary that ensures the survival of Asian elephants. A visitor can learn how to be a mahout and practice training an elephant or take one to the Nam Khan River for a bath.
Architecture and Religious Sites in Laos
With temples, former palaces and French colonial architecture, visitors with an interest in ancient sites and European influences have much to see.
- Luang Prabang is a must-see town that you won’t want to leave. This UNESCO World Heritage Site ranks among the most visited towns in Southeast Asia for good reason: It was the capital of Laos until 1545 and is still the center for Buddhist studies. Despite its growth and popularity, Luang Prabang retains the charm of small town life.
- Vientiane, the “Walled City of Sandalwood,” is the capital city of Laos. Its buildings aesthetically reflect the myriad of countries that have occupied it. Here are prime examples of French Colonial architecture. The French made Laos a protectorate in the late 19th century.
- Pha That Luan stupa, the Buddhist “Great Stupa,” in Vientiane is covered in gold. Originally built as a Hindu stupa in the 3rd century, it has been rebuilt several times over the centu ries and is now the national monument of Laos.
- The Plain of Jars in northern Laos is a collection of ancient large stone cylinders scattered in clusters over miles of undulating land–not really a plain at all. It has been called the Laotian version of Stonehenge, since who made the jars and why they are there remain a mystery.
For a country only the size of Minnesota, Laos offers so much to entertain and captivate visitors. And don’t even get us started on the delicious food!