Places to Visit in Laos
For people who love to visit temples, monasteries and shrines, you will be very happy to explore Laos. Most of its attractions are man-made temples that come with a legend. If ever you see these places, the locals would be very happy to tell you the supernatural stories behind each temple. With that being said, you can follow Wanderlust15’s Laos travel guide. It will make your holiday to Laos memory-filled and more than worthwhile.
15. Wat Sen
Wat Sen is a Buddhist temple in Luang Prabang, Laos. It is a pretty old place of worship as it was established in 1714. In full, the name of the temple is Wat Sensoukaram – but it’s rather hard to pronounce which is why it was nicknamed as such. They also call it Temple of the Patriarch. When you see Wat Sen, you will witness a very intricately created ruby red and gold colored temple. It is still being used to this day and it most definitely is one of the places to visit in Laos.
14. That Dam
Another temple in Laos located in Vientiane is the That Dam. They call it a “stupa” which means a structure where Buddhists can pray which looks like a mound and that it has artifacts inside it. Legend has it that this temple now the home of a Naga with seven heads. This Naga protected them from an invasion in 1827. Anyway, a Naga is a snake-like being with mythical powers. The female version of the Naga is called the Nagi. That Dam was also believed to be covered by pure gold back then.
13. Si Phan Don
Laos has beautiful rivers as well and one of those is the Si Phan Don archipelago. This riverine is located in Champasak Province and it has small islands whenever water is shallow. It is connected to the Mekong River and when it is high tide or when the water from Mekong rises, the islands of Si Phan Don disappears underwater. The great thing about this place is that you will find dolphins swimming around but sadly, they are an endangered species.
12. Haw Phra Kaew
Haw Phra Kaew is another Buddhist temple which can be found in Vientiane, Laos. It was built in the 16th through the wishes of King Setthathirath and it is known to house sitting stone Buddha statues from the 6th century and some standing Buddha monuments inside. At one point, the King even placed an Emerald Buddha within the temple. Today, it is a museum which exhibits the sacred art works of the country and in the landscaped garden, there is a 2,000 year old jar made of stone.
11. Wat Si Muang
Everywhere you look in Laos; there is a temple in every corner. Some are regular places of prayer but there are temples which brings a history behind it. This makes some temples more important than others. Wat Si Muang is a tourist attraction in Ventiane and it is one of the places to visit in Laos with a story. They call Wat Si Muang the “Mother Temple” of Ventiane because a pregnant woman named Si Muang sacrificed herself to appease other wordly spirits. Thus, the temple was made in her honor.
10. Lao National Museum
Lao National Museum in Ventiane is also known as the Lao National History Museum. You have to go here if you want to learn about the history and culture of Laos. The museum is a bit old and needs repair but what’s inside is the gem. It has relics from the prehistoric era up to the modern day Laos.
There is an entrance fee but it’s very cheap. Also, if you go inside the museum, you are not allowed to take pictures.
9. Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham
They call it Wat Mai for short because the name is so difficult to master. Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham is another Buddhist prayer monument in Luang Prabang. It is the biggest wat in all of Laos and the most detailed temple when it comes to decorations. The intricate designs depicted Laos village living, among other scenes. The roof has five tiers and a verandah in front. It was erected sometime in the 18th century and the Emerald Buddha monument is within the temple.
8. Royal Palace, Luang Prabang
The Royal Palace is also a popular landmark in Luang Prabang, Laos. It was constructed in 1904 so that King Sisavang Vong and his Royal family will have a palace to reside in. The location was a prime area because at that time, visitors from other states would dock on the riverside and enter the palace from there. The last family to stay in the Royal Palace was that of the Crown Prince’s Savang Vatthana. After the re-education, the palace was made into a museum. It is one of the places to visit in Laos.
7. Bolaven Plateau
A volcano erupted in the area where Bolaven Plateau is situated millions of years ago. It is in a high altitude and you have to climb more than 1300 meters just to enjoy the tourist spot. Once you get there, the plateau itself is not just the attraction. There are national reserves within the area and intense waterfalls in its rawest feature.
Are you a coffee lover? If you are, then, you will love it here. Bolaven Plateau is home to the best coffee beans in Laos. You can always ask for a cup from the nearby sellers.
6. Mount Phousi
There is a lovely hill at the center of Luang Prabang called Mount Phousi. Residents regard this place as a religious area and it has a number of Buddhist shrines and monuments on top. One of the most visited temples on Mount Phousi is the Wat Chom Si. It lies on the peak of Mount Phousi.
When you are up there, you will see Luang Prabang. You will also be able to witness the vastness of Mekong River and Nam Khan River.
5. Wat Xieng Thong
They regard Wat Xieng Thong as an important monastery because of its religious nature as well as art inspiration. The temple was designed in the Lane Xang Arts style and it was created in 1559. In English, it is called the Golden City or Golden Tree Monastery.
Within the area, there are beautiful gardens with shrubs and trees. There is also a funeral chapel which functions as a display only. There is also a golden wall on the outside of Wat Xieng Thong.
4. Vat Phou
Laos has an archaeological location called the Vat Phou. It is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the country and UNESCO inscribed it as Vat Phou and Associated Ancient Settlements within the Champasak Cultural Landscape in 2001. The site was given a level iii, iv and vi criteria. Naturally, it is a World Heritage Site. It is indeed one of the best places to visit in Laos.
All the ruins and structures discovered within the site dates back to the 11th up to the 13th century. The temples in the area were built to honor the God Shiva.
The literal meaning of the name Patuxai in Laos is Victory Gate or Gate of Triumph. The monument was erected sometime during 1957 to 1968. This was a war memorial and a structure to honor the liberation of Laos from the French.The Patuxai was created and inspired to look a bit like the Arc de Triomphe of Paris. But it still boasts a Laos-type artistic flair and a mythical creature called the kinnari is displayed on the monument.
2. Wat Si Saket
Wat Si Saket is a one of those Buddhist temples located in Lan Xang Road. It was built in the early 19th century by King Anouvong and it looks like a Siamese temple, in terms of architecture. The most notable feature of Wat Si Saket is its cloister wall. A cloister wall is like an open air path and for this particular temple, the wall is composed of more than 2,000 images of Buddha in silver and ceramic makes.
1. That Luang
One of the best places to visit in Laos is the That Luang. Actually, That Luang is the number one tourist attraction in Laos. Some believe that the temple was constructed in the 3rd century and because of its ancient history, Laos declared it as their most significant national structure and it is also consider the country’s national symbol.
At present time, the whole area of That Luang is a gated location. If you want to visit, you need to park outside and walk all the way in just to witness the national symbol.