Laos: All Inclusive

Southeast Asia?s most pristine environment

Backpacking

Backpacking in Laos

With its convenient location in Southeast Asia and close borders with the likes of Vietnam, China and Thailand, Laos is the perfect destination for the backpacker. Though you should be aware of local dangers such as diseases (don’t go too far off of the beaten track), this is small consolation to pay for an area of Asia so naturally preserved, largely underestimated by Westerners and providing fantastic value-for-money. Food, accommodation and expenses are generally cheap and you will also likely meet people here the like you never will again. Laos is a great place for backpackers, with the right visa.

Beach

Beach in Laos

As Laos is landlocked, you simply won’t find the coast to have much of a beach holiday in Laos. Some areas (especially resorts) do offer minor beach facilities, particularly along the rivers, but generally Laos is not where you need to go for a good beach holiday.

Camping

Camping in Laos

You will find several tour operators that offer camping holidays in Laos, packaged as part of other popular activities such as trekking. With its mountainous and rocky terrain, unpredictable monsoonal weather and natural beauty, it’s no wonder Laos is popular amongst campers. Though you would probably be best advised taking a tour or a guide if heading out into the Laos outback, camping in Laos can be an energizing and rewarding experience – sleeping under the stars in one of the most unspoiled climates around.

City Breaks

City Breaks in Laos

Laos certainly isn’t a destination for your average city break. Although you will most likely be staying in a city like Vientiane or Luang Prabang, you would be best served travelling outside of the confinements of the city to explore everything this beautiful country has to offer. Though you might spend some of your time in the city, Laos simply isn’t close enough or feature cities big enough to have a city break in Laos.

Corporate Weekend

Corporate Weekend in Laos

Laos hardly has the convenient location that would be ideal for a city break. Flying from Europe would take you around 5-6 hours (double that from America) just to somewhere like Thailand, you would then need to change to actually get to Laos, so you could be looking at as much as a 10-hour round trip to get settled. If you are close to Laos, geographically, particularly in Cambodia, Thailand or China it could be reasonable for a corporate weekend in Laos, but generally you won’t find many tourists of this type here, though at least the alcohol is ridiculously cheap!

Cruises

Cruises in Laos

With over 4600km of water, this is the place to come if you want to spend your time cruising around. River travel in Laos is relatively cheap, especially for large parties, though the introduction of roads are somewhat destroying the ability to travel all around the country. Cruises in Laos are particularly advised and rivers are very much the roads of this part of the world. Tourist cruises, both internal and external are popular, though since 2007, the use of speedboats wasn’t viewed very favourably, due to Laos’ reputation as an ecotourism hotspot. Still cruising in Laos is one of the most visually stunning ways to get around and is highly recommended.

Culture and Arts

Culture and Arts in Laos

Culture is one of the predominant features and incentives to visit the beautiful unspoiled land of Laos and there are many worthwhile examples of a great culture & arts holiday in Laos. From the former Khmer monuments, to the intensely Buddhist origins of the country, there are also some fantastically original and well-preserved examples of French architecture here. As well as some eye-pleasing natural backdrops like the Pak Ou Caves and the Jar Plains, Laos also has many different types of museums available to visit around the country. For culture and arts, Laos is the ideal holiday destination. In fact, the only destroyed cultural sites were as a result of the aggression of other countries.

Disabled Needs

Disabled Needs in Laos

Laos is not exactly advanced in terms of things we may expect as standard in the Western world. As a lot of the way of life is quite traditional in Laos, disabled facilities are a rarity. Unfortunately, the more rural the holiday destination, the more unlikely it is that advanced facilities like disabled access will be available.

Family Holiday

Family Holiday in Laos

Family holidays in Laos used to be a bad expression a few years ago, but these days, there are many types of adventure holidays and tours with specific activities that are designed for all the members of the family to enjoy. Though it can be a potentially dangerous place to take wandering children, Laos does at least have many tour routes and operators who will try and make your stay a great deal more enjoyable. In fairness, Laos can offer a lot of unique experiences like seeing animals in the wild, walking along tribal villages and seeing some of the most insanely stunning natural sights, but it may be all a tad bit enclosed for the intrepid young adventurer. Family holidays in Laos – possible but there are better destinations.

Gay and Lesbian

Gay and Lesbian in Laos

With close links to the likes of Thailand just a horizon or so away, it’s not surprising that there isn’t much of a gay scene in Laos. You will see little evidence of a gay scene in Laos, with the possible exception of the National Cultural Centre, where the National Dance Company includes many overtly gay individuals. Whilst the Lao are perhaps a little more reserved than their Thai neighbours, homosexual activity is hardly frowned upon, but people of such a persuasion tend to live a very reserved life. Though there are openly gay hotels about, it’s hardly the prime destination a gay and lesbian holiday is Laos.

Hen Destination

Hen Destination in Laos

All things considered (especially the ridiculously cheap alcohol and accommodation), Laos isn’t the ideal destination for a hen or stag weekend for several reasons. Firstly it’s not a conveniently close location and second, despite the cheap booze, being drunk isn’t looked upon particularly friendly and you don’t want to be the one to disturb the piece. Added to that, the nightlife in Laos isn’t the greatest you will find.

Honeymoon

Honeymoon in Laos

For those that want to get back to nature and perhaps want a bit of extra luxury for their hard-earned Euros, Laos is a good destination for honeymooning. Though you might not be able to go for romantic strolls on the beach, there are more basically beautiful things such as seeing traditional people carrying out their everyday duties and going trekking in the wilderness. In fact, as long as you’re not a vegetarian and stock up on your medicine and prevention sprays, Laos could be the ideal honeymoon destination, for there are few places as naturally preserved as Laos.

Naturism

Naturism in Laos

Naturists, Laos is probably not for you, for a variety of reasons. Firstly the only way to get the authority to open such a resort would be to get it approved via the strict Communist ‘Republican’ regime and secondly, that particular government is highly religious. Whilst Buddhists aren’t prudes, the Lao would never paint themselves as particularly liberal people, so unfortunately if naturist sites in Laos do exist, everyone is keeping pretty quiet about them.

Party Holiday - Singles Life

Party Holiday - Singles Life in Laos

Whilst there are a reasonable amount of bars and nightclubs in Laos, there isn’t the greatest party scene, especially in Luang Prabang, where you will find most people are in bed by midnight, up early to rise with the monks. There are places to meet people and you may find someone with such a diverse mix of cultures in a place that enjoys a lot of visitors. But on the surface, Laos is not ideal for party holidays or living the single life.

Couples Holiday

Couples Holiday in Laos

Rather like a honeymoon destination, Laos is an unspoiled paradise that many couples will enjoy. There are enough cultural delights and activities here to make your stay a particularly enjoyable one. If you want to stay in luxury, without breaking the bank, as well as being able to visit some places, the like you will never likely experience anywhere else again – Laos can be a great destination for couples. Staying in one of the resorts can be particularly luxurious, with the round-the-clock service, luxury digs and relatively inexpensive lifestyle. Add to that a variety of cosy places to curl up and relax, there are some great advantages to a couples’ holiday in Laos.

Safari Activity Holiday

Safari Activity Holiday in Laos

Traditional safari doesn’t really happen in Laos, you can go on treks which include things like elephants (you can even ride one) and experience the wild for yourself. There are many tour companies which will be keen to sign you up to all sorts of expeditions and trips into the wild. It’s probably the top destination for elephant safari, but perhaps not for other types. Still this is at least a part of the world in which you can experience nature as it was intended, so safari in Laos can be quite unique, if unconventional.

Golf Activity Holiday

Golf Activity Holiday in Laos

In a part of the world blessed with wonderful naturally tricky terrain and natural rivers, it’s not surprising that golf is a popular pastime in Laos. There is a particularly large golfing resort in Luang Prabang, which also combines a casino into the mix. Whilst more golf-orientated facilities can be found in Vientiane. With its stunning backdrops and clean mountain air, Laos is perfect for a spot of golf.

Skiing - Snow Boarding

Skiing - Snow Boarding in Laos

Being a country that doesn’t enjoy the greatest, if any, snowfall, Laos is unsurprisingly not a popular destination for fans of skiing and snowboarding.

Sailing Activity Holiday

Sailing Activity Holiday in Laos

Sailing is popular in Laos and you can pickup exotic and adventurous sailing and cruise programs from all the big cities including Luang Prabang on rivers like the Mekong. If you aren’t lucky enough to find a friendly local, your only option is going to be taking one of the expensive commercial trips that will combine the sailing adventures with other activities like trekking, rock-climbing and candlelit slow cruises. These sailing holidays can be taken from outside Laos as well within it, making sailing in Laos a rewarding, yet rather expensive experience.

Scuba Diving Activity Holiday

Scuba Diving Activity Holiday in Laos

Scuba diving in Laos isn’t as well represented as its neighbours like Burma and Thailand, especially with the lack of coastal areas to exploit. If you are planning a scuba dive, Laos isn’t really ideal.

Hiking Activity Holiday

Hiking Activity Holiday in Laos

Hiking or trekking as it’s more popularly referred to in Laos is the best way to get around. With villages not occupying the greatest areas of landmass, you can quite easily get around Laos by hiking and there is nothing more invigorating then getting back to nature by experiencing the wildlife in the flesh. Though it’s probably not best advised to go hiking in Laos without a guide, there are many tourist companies who will be most pleased to take you on a guided tour of the best areas and some will even combine Laos hikes with other activities to boost the price. Simply put, Laos is full of sheer natural beauty and one of the best ways to experience that is on foot.

Cycling Activity Holiday

Cycling Activity Holiday in Laos

Contrary to popular belief, the Lao government aren’t as harsh as to not allow you to bring a bicycle into the country, though if you didn’t you can easily buy one here for a very reasonable price of around 30 Euros. Bike hire in Laos is also particularly cheap and you can hire mountain bikes too for that more unforgiving terrain. If you don’t fancy walking it, Laos can be ideal for cycling holidays, whether you are literally just passing through the region or if this is your main destination. Cycling holidays in Laos are highly recommended.

Shopping Holiday

Shopping Holiday in Laos

Shopaholics aren’t going to need to mark Laos down as the place to go in order to find a shopper’s paradise. In fact if you mentioned the word ‘mall’ out in Laos, they most likely wouldn’t have a clue what you’re referring to. Shopping in Laos tends to be at a fixed price in places like restaurants and grocery stores and for barter in places like markets. The majority of goods are bought and sold at the morning markets. For those searching for intricate fabrics and elaborate handicrafts, Vientiane is certainly a good place to go though. Shopping in Laos is mostly a specialist hobby, rather than the mass-market madness you are probably used to.

Well-being and Spa

Well-being and Spa in Laos

One traditional Lao experience worth trying is the herbal sauna. Often run by temples, these can be as simple as a rickety bamboo shack, usually open in the evenings. There are a lot of bigger establishments that do things like this too, especially in Vientiane, though these will mostly be bigger spas. You can even get spa holidays and some hotels will have their own specialist facilities too. All in all, a well-being spa holiday in Laos is highly recommended.

Touring - Driving holiday

Touring - Driving holiday in Laos

Laos isn’t the worst place in the world to get behind the wheel, though it will cost you. As it’s not much more expensive to hire a driver who will at least know where he is going, is quite possible to have a decent touring/driving holiday in Laos. This is likely to be comfortable environments too as most drivers you hire will be driving fairly nice vehicles with useful amenities like air conditioning. This isn’t the ideal place for a touring or driving holiday, but Laos is at least a scenic place to do it and I’m sure the driver will stop if you ask him nicely.

Wine Tasting Holiday

Wine Tasting Holiday in Laos

Laos may be many things but it is certainly more famous for creating and exporting beer than it is wine. As such, wine-tasting holidays in Laos are pretty non-existent.