Lao travel stories

Jump to story list

  • Northern Laos or Southern Laos?

    Northern Laos or Southern Laos?

    Laos may be small but this landlocked nation is richly diverse. Its modest population of 6.5 million people is one of the most ethnically diverse in Southeast Asia, with 86 living languages and 49 official ethnicities. The geography also varies greatly, from the open plains and plateaus of the south, through to the north, with its impenetrably high mountain ranges; the capital city Vientiane acts as the dividing hub in the centre.

    Read full story

  • Weaving and textiles in Luang Prabang

    Weaving and textiles in Luang Prabang

    Laos is renowned for its tradition of weaving and Luang Prabang has become a hub for textiles. Weaving is an art and skill that has been passed on between generations. What begins as a silkworm, a bud of cotton or a hemp plant is transformed into a cloth that tells a story about the weaver, her village, her tribe and ethnicity: Hmong, Tai Lue, Tai Dam, Lanten and Katu, just to name a few. Textiles are a fascinating way to connect with the culture of Laos and through them you can discover the country’s astounding diversity.

    Read full story

  • Luang Prabang for kids

    Luang Prabang for kids

    Luang Prabang is a great holiday for easygoing parents and curious, adaptable children -- but not children who must have access to modern distractions as you won't find cinemas, malls or flashy theme parks here. We’ve seen many families with young kids enjoy a week in the town, finding plenty to do while not having to travel far. Luang Prabang is convenient to explore, with everything close and relatively safe. And Lao people are very family-oriented -- it’s very natural to have children around, and you’ll find that yours will be most welcome everywhere you go.

    Read full story

  • What to buy in Luang Prabang, Laos

    What to buy in Luang Prabang, Laos

    Long after we've left, the sight of a special souvenir will trigger a fond memory or feeling we experienced during a trip away. This is especially true for those who have ventured to Luang Prabang, where many various handmade items tell a story about the place and the people. From designers putting a chic new spin on traditional motifs to elephant slippers that have reached cult status, here's a rundown of souvenirs you should consider buying if you're shopping in Luang Prabang.

    Read full story

  • Free the Bears Laos

    Free the Bears Laos

    When five-month old Kobe arrived at the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre, he was traumatised. His mother had been shot and killed by hunters. Kobe had been caught, noosed, bound tightly by all four legs, tied to a length of bamboo and carried through the jungle. He endured being carried around this way for three days as Forest Rangers pursued the hunters. Eventually he was abandoned and found by the Rangers, then saved by Free the Bears.

    Read full story

  • A breeze through Luang Prabang

    A breeze through Luang Prabang

    Five years ago, I first read Travelfish’s assertion that Luang Prabang is the destination in Laos. Though I had come close to visiting in subsequent years, LP had always eluded me, like an itch that I could never quite scratch. At the tail end of 2013, I finally made a spur-of-the-moment break for the ancient capital, and it proved more enchanting than I had imagined.

    Read full story

  • Temples in Luang Prabang

    Temples in Luang Prabang

    With a mix of spectacular yet heavily-touristed temples plus offbeat, tourist-free temples, Luang Prabang offers a great package of religious architectural experiences. Whether you're into seeing the shimmering temples you've glimpsed in tourist brochures or simply want to chill out under a frangipani tree, watching the monks go about their daily routines in a secluded spot, Luang Prabang has it all. Here's a selection of our favourites.

    Read full story

  • COPE: Helping people move on

    COPE: Helping people move on

    Between 1964 and 1973 the US army dropped more than two million tons of ordnance on Laos, earning the country the dubious distinction of being the most heavily bombed country per capita in history. The Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise -- COPE --  is a non-profit based in Vientiane that runs rehabilitation centres aiming to provide access to orthotic and prosthetic devices and a range of other services for the victims of the remains of these weapons.

    Read full story

  • Best budget rooms in Luang Prabang 2013

    Best budget rooms in Luang Prabang 2013

    Luang Prabang has a reputation as an upmarket town catering towards package tours and older folk willing to spend a bit more on their accommodation than the typical backpacker -- and indeed, the World Heritage-listed town has some absolutely world class accommodation, but it's all but useless unless you've got cash. For those with less money though, some decent options are available, if you know where to look.

    Read full story

  • Pi Mai Lao in Luang Prabang: In 1999

    Pi Mai Lao in Luang Prabang: In 1999

    Situated on a hill rising dramatically at the intersection of two rivers, Luang Prabang has for centuries enchanted those who arrive by boat – still probably one of the best ways to first see the former royal capital of Laos. This town dominated by wats of unspeakable beauty is somnambulent, peaceful and languid, masking a fascinating history of conquest and recapture, and only hinting at an intricate culture and complex traditions. And at designated times of year, the town springs to a life that is unique.

    Read full story

  • Vientiane's Chinatown

    Vientiane's Chinatown

    Just a few kilometres from the centre of the Lao capital of Vientiane, you'll find a little piece of mainland China that most visitors don't even know exists. While not on the scale of the Chinatowns you'll find elsewhere in the world, Sānjiāng is still a fascinating enclave, where thousands of Chinese immigrants seek to recreate through food and shopping, the home they left behind in China.

    Read full story

  • Laos' vanishing elephants

    Laos' vanishing elephants

    Our group crouches as quietly as possible, staring into the dense undergrowth, hoping that the crashing noises ahead of us are what we are searching for: the elusive Asian elephant. If we have struck lucky, the heat, the insects and the two hours of exhausting walking on the fringes of a national park in central Laos will all have been worth it.

    Read full story

  • Luang Prabang Film Fest & Gabriel Kuperman

    Luang Prabang Film Fest & Gabriel Kuperman

    Luang Prabang has no working cinema but that didn't deter Gabriel Kuperman from becoming the founder and director of the first-ever Luang Prabang Film Festival in December 2010. The festival of Southeast Asian films was a big hit with tourists and locals alike and is set to run again in 2011. We speak to Gabriel about the struggle to bring films from around the region to Luang Prabang, how Lao teens got involved, his amazement at the turnout and his hope to show Lao sub-titled films at this year's event.

    Read full story

  • Photos of Luang Prabang, Laos

    Photos of Luang Prabang, Laos

    The highlight of many a holiday to Laos, Luang Prabang really can be as beautiful as they say. Sure the main strip can feel like a bit of a tourist trap at times, but it isn't difficult to wander off to find a bit of the serenity that first saw it become a "must visit" on the Southeast Asia tourist trail. The following pictures were mostly taken in and around the town itself.

    Read full story

  • Tubing in Vang Vieng

    Tubing in Vang Vieng

    Like a SE Asian Goa, Vang Vieng offers the constant debauchery that marks any infamous destination on the now well-worn backpacker/hippie/party-people trail. It just doesn't have a beach, nor, frankly, does it even need one. The famed attraction has become, incorrectly but perhaps appropriately, immortalized on t-shirts and tank tops as: "Tubing In The Vang Vieng Laos."

    Read full story

  • Phonsavan and Luang Prabang

    Phonsavan and Luang Prabang

    The laid-back charm of Laos is present wherever you travel in the country, but tourism has certainly developed at dramatically different rates. Both the Plain of Jars and Luang Prabang are internationally known historical sites, the key difference between the two is that the latter is a well-established World Heritage site, while the former is an unsolved archeological mystery scattered throughout several rural fields. Traveling by bicycle these two stops on the tourist trail fall within a few days travel of each other, but their differences could not be more apparent.

    Read full story

  • Elephant trekking in Laos

    Elephant trekking in Laos

    Elephants are the quintessential poster child for tourism in Southeast Asia. If you've opened a guidebook or two, you know that the gentle giants figure prominently in the tourist scene and are featured attractions in almost every corner of the region. For most of us, a generic ride atop one of the massive mammals isn't quite what we're looking for in terms of making meaningful memories. Fortunately, there are a host of other options that promise a closer look into the lives of the peaceful pachyderms -- but do they deliver?

    Read full story

  • Cheap flights with Discovery Airpass

    Cheap flights with Discovery Airpass

    If you're planning a holiday in Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam and are thinking of flying some of the legs, then the Discovery Airpass -- a flight coupon deal offered by Bangkok Airways, Lao Airlines and Berjaya Air -- can work out to be a slight money saver, delivering on the promise of cheap flights right across Southeast Asia.

    Read full story

  • Crossing the Cambodia Laos border

    Crossing the Cambodia Laos border

    Of all the border crossings in the region, the overland crossing between Cambodia and Laos has been one of the most changeable. In some ways, Dom Kralor has all the ingredients of a pain in the posterior crossing -- corrupt border officials, inconsistent travel advice and of course wildly varying traveller tales. Read on to find out the best way to cross this ever-changing border.

    Read full story

  • Exploring Laos' Bolaven Plateau

    Exploring Laos' Bolaven Plateau

    One of the most rewarding experiences on offer in Southern Laos is a motorcycle trip through the Bolaven Plateau. It's home to numerous waterfalls, great scenery, tribal villages, and unexplored corners galore. So while everyone else is blasting straight down to Si Phan Don, swerve off the beaten tourist trail, get yourself a motorbike, a map and do some travelling!

    Read full story

  • The Phonsavan adventure

    The Phonsavan adventure

    Arriving at Phonsavan airport, the internal immigration checkpoint reminds me that sleepy little Laos is still a one-party state. It goes quickly enough however, and soon I'm charging the wall of touts at baggage claim. I pick a shy-looking guide from the back exactly because he isn't shouting at me. My Phonsavan adventure begins.

    Read full story

  • Is Lao Airlines safe to fly?

    Is Lao Airlines safe to fly?

    Update: On 16 October 2013 a Lao Airlines flight from Vientiane to Pakse crashed. The following story is not about that crash, but we're following developments here. You're in Chiang Mai and want to fly to Luang Prabang. Or, you are in Vientiane and want to visit Angkor Wat, but don't have the time to go overland and can't afford flying via Bangkok. There's the rub. Sometimes a Lao Airlines flight is the only way to get where you want to go in the time you have. But given the airline's bad reputation for safety, what do you do? How bad is it really?

    Read full story

  • The Gibbon Experience

    The Gibbon Experience

    Blame it on Alex Garland's The Beach, but when I first heard of a place deep in the jungle where people could fly through trees and stay in tree-top houses it sounded like an old wives' tale. I expected to be passed a map and to find myself lost, alone in the middle of the Golden Triangle. What I hadn't bargained for was The Gibbon Experience.

    Read full story

  • Luang Prabang escape

    Luang Prabang escape

    Luang Prabang's charms, its French colonial architecture and Buddhist heritage are legendary. Add a tropical setting, and the appeal can't be denied. It's an enchanting place for a weekend away, with plenty to see and do.

    Read full story

  • Muang Ngoi Escape

    Muang Ngoi Escape

    Imagine stepping back in time to a world without cars, motorbikes or telephones; where the day begins when the sun rises and ends with the light; where malls have yet to be built and produce is limited to what can be coaxed from nature.

    Read full story

  • Southern Laos by scooter

    Southern Laos by scooter

    During our recent trip through Southern Laos we hired one of those Chinese Honda Dream rip-offs from Mr Vong at Sabaidy 2 Guesthouse in Pakse and did a bit of a loop through what all the guidebooks seem to refer to as Laos' "Remote South" -- if you've got the time, some language skills (not essential but they do help!) and a bit of spare cash, this loop is a great diversion for those who want to see a bit of real southern Laos before they stray down to Si Phan Don.

    Read full story

  • Huay Xai to Pak Tha by slowboat

    Huay Xai to Pak Tha by slowboat

    If speedboats are too much for your heart, the roads too much for your skeletal system and flying too pricey, don't despair: see Laos from the comfort of a slowboat. From Huay Xai, the sense of transition, as the muddy bottom unwillingly releases the boat from its hold, and the prow is snatched by the current's powerful grasp and propelled down river, is only the beginning of what can be a week-long river trip all the way to the Laotian capital, Vientiane.

    Read full story

Feature story quicklinks

Newsletter signup

Sign up for Travelfish Burp!

Our weekly wrap on Southeast Asian travel.
Click here to see a recent newsletter.

We respect your email privacy