Small and land-locked, Laos is becoming an increasingly popular southeast Asian destination, and for good reason. The country is home to some spectacular natural sights, intriguing historical sites, varying volunteer experiences, and totally unique ecotourism experiences.
Water, Water Everywhere
Despite being a land-locked country, travelling in Laos offers multiple opportunities for water-based activities.
Not far from the northern city of Luang Prabang are two of Laos’ most impressive waterfalls, Kuang Si and Tad Sae. Kuang Si, which is typically accessed via tuk-tuk and hiking, is a stunning multi-tiered waterfall, and has steps that allow visitors to access higher tiered pools for a spectacular view. Tad Sae is further away from Luang Prabang, and thus is often reached by hiking or, impressively, by elephant. Compared to Kuang Si, Tad Sae are less frequented by tourists, but are similarly awe-inspiring, and exceptionally tranquil.
One of the most relaxing and festive experiences you can find in Vang Vieng would have to be tubing down the Nam Song River. Considered to be akin to a floating party, tubes are cheap to rent and meander so calmly down the river that it’s easy to grab a drink from any of the riverside vendors as you float. Most riverside restaurants even having parking for your tube!
Plain of Jars
One of Laos’ most famous, and most mysterious, historical sites is Plain of Jars. Located in Xieng Khouang, Plain of Jars are massive clay jars scattered throughout a large rolling plain in varying degrees of density. The site is one of legends, and Plain of Jars is one of the most treasured sites in this region, even in the entire country.
More than 2,000 of these jars have been discovered, all carved from one solid piece of rock, estimated to have originated in the Iron Age, around 900 BC. It is thought that the site is an ancient burial ground, but some believe that the jars are giant kegs intended to hold massive amounts of rice wine. Regardless, a visit to Plain of Jars is one not to be missed for travellers interested in an ancient mystery and a magnificent site.
Volunteer Your Heart Out
Volunteering in Laos is a popular activity for travellers, whether they are in the country for a short period of time or an extended stay.
Big Brother Mouse is an organisation that promotes literacy in Laos. You can help by donating Lao language books that you purchase within Laos or engage with locals during English practice time in the office by conversing with them in English to improve their language skills.
There are a number of international organisations like i-to-i and GVI that help place volunteers long-term in areas throughout Laos. Projects primarily involve teaching English and working in orphanages.
The Gibbon Experience
In the middle of Bokeo, Northern Laos, lies the Bokeo Nature Reserve, which is home to The Gibbon Experience, a multi-faceted organisation with an overarching focus on conservation. The Gibbon Experience was established by Animo, a conservation-based ecotourism company supported by the Laos government in their goal to create profitable conservation and tourism enterprises for locals.
Guests of The Gibbon Experience are accommodated in canopy level tree houses and have exclusive access to the Bokeo Nature Reserve, breathtaking views of the reserve, unlimited opportunities to explore the forest, and exceptionally enthusiastic local guides on hand to show off the beautiful surroundings. There are also opportunities for guests to get educated on the animal rehabilitation programs that are central to the Bokeo Nature Reserve. The Gibbon Experience is one of the most unique and ethically-minded ecotourism experiences in Laos, and would easily be an experience of a lifetime.
Ecotourism Action Activities
If you are looking for some action Teamworkz is a local travel expert for Laos. An ecotourism travel agency specializes in sustainable tourism, ecotourism, and use a unique understanding of local areas to help customers, clients and friends find what they are really looking for out of their visit to this amazing region. If you are up for some adrenaline try their new top tree jungle adventure and then relax on a magical river cruise through remote villages and ancient temples.
Ecotourism in Laos
The dedication to responsible and ecotourism in Laos is excellent. There are numerous initiatives to support local enterprise in conservation and tourism, like The Gibbon Experience, as well as a solid infrastructure to support the growing tourism industry in the country.