What is Laos Most Famous For? Top 5 Things to See in Laos

August 10, 2022

Although it’s still fairly off the beaten path, Laos is quickly making a name for itself as a tourist destination in Southeast Asia.

 

This colorful and unique country has something for everyone, whether that’s lush nature, architectural gems, cultural traditions, and much more.

 

After the coronavirus pandemic forced nearly every country to close their borders at the beginning of 2020, many travelers wondered when the time would come for Laos to reopen for tourists. Thankfully, times have changed and Laos is open for tourism in 2022.

 

If you’re planning a trip to Laos soon, be sure to add the following 5 places to your itinerary immediately.

 

Buddha Park (Wat Xieng Khuan)

Wat Xieng Khuan is a very unusual and interesting park that has a special atmosphere due to the 200+ Buddha statues that are housed there.

 

The park is located 25 kilometers from Vientiane, the capital of Laos, right near the banks of the Mekong River. The aptly-named Buddha Park has become popular among locals and tourists due to its unique scenery. The park is decorated with hundreds of different Buddha sculptures, as well as various mythical creatures, animals, and even humans.

 

All the statues in the are stylized to appear to be ancient, although this isn’t actually the case — the park only opened 50 years ago and the statues are about the same age.

 

Travelers can walk around the park in about an hour or so, enjoying the different sculptures, gardens, and scenery. With so many things to see, it’s no wonder why this park is considered one of the most visited tourist attractions in Laos.

 

Also in the park, you can visit a special three-story building, which symbolizes the three dimensions of heaven, earth, and hell. Don’t forget to go up to the top-level (‘heaven’) to see a panoramic view of the park.

 

Pak Ou Caves

Another place that captivates travelers and locals alike is the Pak Ou Caves.

 

Many people call this place the Cave of a Thousand Buddhas, and it’s no coincidence why: Inside the cave, there are more than 4,000 Buddha statues. The tradition of offering a Buddha statue started many years ago, and new statues are still being added by locals and pilgrims to this day.

 

Just like the Buddha Park, this temple complex overlooks the Mekong River and is located in a rocky cave. The journey is just as interesting as the destination, as the Pak Ou Caves can only be reached by boat.

 

Pak Ou consists of an upper cave and a lower cave. Each presents a wide variety of Buddha statues, from small 5 cm statues to large human-sized statues.

 

In all corners of the cave, religious candles and incense are lit, which give this place a special atmosphere and aura.

 

Patuxai Triumphal Arch

The Patuxai Triumphal Arch is considered to be one of the most beautiful architectural masterpieces of Laos. The design of this landmark is similar to that of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, yet the many mythological figures and intricate patterns give the Patuxai a unique advantage.

 

The memorial is located in the very center of the capital, on one of the main avenues, and always garners a crowd of locals and tourists who come to admire the ornate details and statues.

 

Near the arch, there is a small park with ponds, fountains, and neatly-groomed paths for walking. If you want to enjoy views of the entire city, there is an observation deck at the very top of the arch as well.

 

Plain of Jars

Perhaps one of the most mysterious and unusual places in all of Laos is the Plain of Jars.

 

The valley is located just a few kilometers away from the city of Phonsavan in central Laos and is one of the most popular attractions in the country. In fact, the Plain of Jars was even inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2019.

 

There are hundreds of ancient stone jugs (some weighing more than a ton!) of unknown origin spread all over a vast territory. However, the most interesting part is that nobody really knows how — or who — made these giant jars, stumping scientists and archeologists along the way.

 

If you’re interested in archeology, history, or just quirky attractions, this is one place to definitely add to your itinerary.

 

Ruins of Vat Phou

To truly immerse yourself in the history and ancient culture of Laos, a trip to Vat Phou is in order.

 

This ruined Khmer Hindu temple is a real treasure for those who love to explore ancient temples hidden in the jungle (like those in Myanmar). The complex is located in Champasak Province and is surrounded by picturesque green hills, jungles, and mountains.

 

The original temples were built more than a thousand years ago, and the currently surviving structures date back to the 13th century. Due to its importance to the history of the region and its incredible beauty, Vat Phou is under the protection of UNESCO.

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Michelle Myles

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