Must-visit places in Laos

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Photo Credit: kwanchaichaiudom

Many people have probably not heard about Laos but this Asian destination is out to compete with destinations that have already been explored. The friendly locals are eager to teach visitors about their heritage and while it is relatively new to most visitors, the back-in-time air around it is welcoming. Ancient cultural attractions accentuate the mountainous landscape and the environment is just fun to be around.

Every Buddhist temple you come across in Laos has a story behind it and so do the many heritage sites.  For any one preparing to visit Laos for a tour, expect nothing short of a cultural rollercoaster. Even UNESCO recognizes Laos courtesy of Luang Prabang, now a world heritage site. This is where you will see the mysterious and unexplained plain with jars. It is easy to get lost in all this fascination but that is not even half of what you should be looking forward to.

Luang Prabang – this destination is in the northern side of Laos. A charming town that every new visitor to Laos must visit, Luang Prabang is home to over 30 temples and former palaces. The buildings in this area are made in the old French style colonial architecture and there are natural sites all around to please the eyes. Are you an early riser? If you wake up in time to take part in the alms giving ritual of the orange-robed monks, you are paid back with a leisure breakfast in a town café.

That Luang – this destination is a must visit if you find yourself anywhere close to Vientiane. A national symbol in Laos, That Luang is ranked as the most sacred monument in the entire country. Look through any of Laos state documents and the Great Stupa as it is referred to makes up the national seal. Watching closely, the structure comprises of a fortress that has high walls surrounding it. It has 2 temples and a gold leaf covers the top.

Vang Vieng – another destination still in of Vientiane, visitors have to drive for four hours to get there. The best description of Vang Vieng is mountain town and its beauty is responsible for drawing visitors to it from many corners of the world. Backpackers especially find this destination to be the ultimate experience because of its ruggedness. Looking around, many visitors are wowed by the rivers, mountains, rice fields and cliffs of limestone that makeup this scenic town. For those who would like to try tubing, the Nam Song River is where the action is.

Wat Sisaket – this is a temple destination and its history spans backwards to 1828. People come here to see this temple that outlived the Siamese occupation while the rest of the capital lies in ruins. Inside are more than 10,000 Buddha sculptures in various styles and sizes. The beautiful appearance of the temple on the inside and out is architectural layout that goes back to 1818 when construction took place.

For those who visit Wat Sisaket, do not leave until you have set eyes on its 5-tiered roof, drum tower, small library with roof in Burmese style and ceiling with floral patterns in the ordination room. Presently, the hall plays host to 7,000 images that have been curved out of stone, wood or bronze.

Bolaven Plateau and Tad Fane Waterfall – it is impossible to see one and miss the other that is why these attractions are mentioned side by side. Located in Pakse – Champasak, in the southern region of Laos, the Bolaven Plateau is rich in scenery, ethnic dwellings and many areas that have never been explored. Asia has some of the world’s spectacular waterfalls but this one takes the whole of Southeast Asia a notch higher. The plateau rises to heights of between 1,000 and 1,350 metres above the sea level, creating the perfect fall for the Tad Fane and Dong Hua Sao.

Bokeo – a peaceful province in the northern side of Laos, Bokeo is a rural province with most of its beauty intact. Rich in natural resources, the tropical forest, hilly mountains and farmland is home to close to 30 ethnic communities. The unity of these groups is not the only thing that draws you to this place but also the manner in which each has been successful in preserving their culture and traditional practices. Visitors can sit on the banks of the Mekong River to enjoy the water scene or walk through the several temples in this capital, Huay Xai.

Buddha Park (Xieng Khuan) – as the name suggests, this is a religious park where more than 200 statues can be found. Apart from marveling at the beauty and uniqueness of each, how about you raise your face to admire the reclining image of Buddha which is 40 meters long. The park in its entirety is a creation of Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat who as a monk studied Buddhism and Hinduism. Visitors must anticipate seeing most of the Hindu and Buddhist gods here as well as demons.

Vat Phou – also known as Temple Mountain in Lao, this temple ruin lies right at the base of the Phou Kao Mountain. All around it is the verdant jungle that enjoys a great view of both Champasak Province and Mekong River. A UNESCO world heritage site, this ancient Khmer temple and the structures that lie around it were put up in the period of time from 5th to 15th centuries.

Obviously, the whole of Laos is beautiful and just waiting to be explored. Even for last minute planners, it only takes a few days to get it processed and the good part is that there is no need to go to a physical consulate or embassy. All you need to make the application if applying for the Laos visa for Canadians is internet, processing fee and the list of requirements needed. The Laos eVisa allows entry into the country for short visit visits such as those required by tourists and people coming to visit their relatives. Longer stay visas are also given but those require a different set of requirements and cannot be processed online.

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