Laos Holidays

Relaxing, green and genuinely welcoming, laid-back Laos is the place to spend unhurried time and find your own pace. Its enigmatic landscapes and exquisite temples are perfect for gentle exploration, while its jungle-flanked rivers offer wonderfully scenic boat trips.

A traditional Buddhist way of life prevails for the majority of Lao people, and days are refreshingly slow-paced, even in the capital city. Visitor numbers are much lower than neighbouring countries, and we’ve experienced a great deal of spontaneous hospitality whilst travelling there.

Spiritual cities

There's no resisting the allure of world-famous UNESCO city Luang Prabang, the country's crown jewel with hundreds of extraordinary historic temples. It’s not exactly Asia’s best kept secret these days, but is still surprisingly charming and visitor footfall is relatively low. Thanks to LP’s towering fame, the capital city Vientiane does count as something of a hidden gem — we like to give it a couple of days, enjoying the uncrowded temples and excellent street food stalls. 

Extraordinary landscapes

Laos is full of intriguing landscapes which lend themselves to simply exploring. The mysterious Plain of Jars, a sprawling megalithic site, is yet to be fully explained by archaeologists, while the Bolaven Plateau offers superb scenery and coffee plantation homestays. In Viang Xai you can visit a cave complex which housed thousands of people during the Vietnam war — complete with underground schools, temples and hospitals.

Time to unwind 

The 4,000 Islands region (Si Phan Don) offers this landlocked country an alternative to the seaside. Riverine islands sit in a broad shallow stretch of the Mekong, where the flow slows and life is laid back even by Laos standards. Spend time here relaxing, island-hopping and messing about in boats, all within reach of the Bolaven Plateau, the peaceful streets of Champasak, and the Angkor-era temple of Wat Phou.

River life 

Rivers are still a significant way for locals to get around in Laos. A river journey will help you synchronize with the gentle pace of your hosts, and there's no better way to sense the country's heartbeat. Catch a boat and you'll be out amongst the local fishermen, with a fine view of life on the riverbank and rarely a tourist boat in sight. 

Superb trekking 

The country’s craggy landscapes are incredibly scenic, and treks here can be adapted to different abilities. It's all seriously satisfying, from the paths through rolling hills and rice paddies to farming villages, to the mountain routes which lead you to tribal communities where forest living is the norm.

Thing to love in Laos

What to do in Laos: Discover more with our hand-picked experiences & highlights
Trekking to the Nam Et ‘Nests’

Trekking to the Nam Et ‘Nests’

Suspended above the shady forest floor, the Nam Et ‘Nests’ are spherical eco-pods where you can snuggle down to rest after a challenging day’s trekking. Hear the songs of wildlife in contrast with the natural silence, and feel the gentle swaying of the canopy rocking you to sleep as you experience tree-dwelling in the dense jungle. 

Time for petanque

Petanque with the locals in Laos

There’s something about sport which transcends language, and takes you straight to the fun part of getting to know people. Petanque, one of the most popular pastimes of Laos, is accessible to all fitness levels and an ideal opportunity to meet a few locals as you travel around this friendly chilled out country.  

MandaLao Elephant Sanctuary

MandaLao Elephant Sanctuary

If bonding with elephants is one of your must-do travel highlights, there are few better places to scratch that itch than in Laos. Whilst there are a small number of responsibly run sites, our preference is the MandaLao Elephant Sanctuary. You’ll trek alongside the elephants and learn and the pioneering conservation work being carried out.

 
 

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Inspirational journeys

Perfect straight ‘off the peg’ or as a source of inspiration allowing us to start with blank canvas. You decide.

The Selective difference

With us, you are taken care of from enquiry until your reluctant homecoming. Your holiday is designed by a specialist who knows your destination first-hand. Throughout your travels, you'll have expert personal guides where requested & our full logistical support. And, it goes without saying, we'll be waiting to hear all about it once you're home.

LOCAL EXPERTISE

Our Brighton-based Destination Specialists spend each day working closely with colleagues and partners across Asia. This ensures we stay several steps ahead when designing inspiring holidays, staying up to date and overcoming obstacles, which means your holiday will be crafted using both local and international expertise.

RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL

The welfare of our destinations and their communities is incredibly important to us. We are focused on ensuring that your money makes a positive impact, as often as possible, by supporting communities and wildlife conservation through dedicated initiatives and by very carefully choosing our partners in Asia.

   EXCEPTIONAL STANDARDS

We may be partial to the occasional bad pun, but we don’t joke around when it comes to designing first class travel experiences. Over 90% of our clients rate us 5/5 after their holiday, and we're not ashamed to crack a proud grin on behalf of our award-winning teams in the UK and Asia.

WORRY-FREE

We know your time is precious, before and during your trip. We want you to have a smooth and relaxing experience so that your main concern on holiday will be whether to order noodles or rice. There will be no hidden extras, and your holiday will be orchestrated seamlessly by your Destination Specialist plus our local guides and behind-the-scenes crews in your destination.

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Explore Laos' highlights

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Responsible Travel in Laos

Whilst Laos has long appeared to be a regional leader in its commitment to reusable energies, in reality much of the power generated is exported to China. The reality is that for projects of this scale, Laos must usually rely on the expertise and wallet of its neighbours. Income from tourism, however, helps show glimpses of a brighter more self-sustainable future, when Laos can rely on its own income to drive such progress forward.

Back on dry land, the country is home to a number of lodges with serious Eco credentials and some inspiring wildlife conservation projects such as the Nam Et-Phou Louey Protected Area. The project protects species includes clouded leopard, gibbons, and an incredible array of birdlife and a very threatened population of tigers. The area was once used by locals as a hunting ground, however villagers are now encouraged to protect the wildlife, generating revenue for the community from tourist's wildlife sightings.

Laos’ commitment to retaining its cultural heritage is also to be applauded - and enjoyed – with the country boasting a healthy number of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Whether experienced whilst residing in a traditional Old Town residence in Luang Prabang or in the villages surrounding Muang La Lodge, you can be sure that a healthy percentage of your travel spend is working in a positive manner.

Find out more about Selective Asia's Responsible Travel policy and our innovative One Bottle at a Time initiative.

What makes Laos tick?

 Beer

Home to Beer Laos - arguably the best beer in Asia.

 Buddha statues

There are a lot of them around! Lao Buddhism underpins the country’s culture, and is an important focus of daily and social life.

 Hidden history

Laos was bombed even more heavily than Vietnam during the 1960s & 70s. 580,000 bombing runs dropped 2 million tons of ordnance in nine years, making it the most heavily bombed country per capita in history.

  Currency

You can generally pay with Laos kip, Thai baht or US dollars in Laos.

  Elephants

Laos’ nickname is the ‘Land of a million elephants’.

 Rivers

Be it the Mekong or the Nam Ou, rivers bring life to Laos, and are sometimes the only way to get around.

 Sticky rice

Laos has the highest per-capita consumption of sticky rice in the world, with each person eating over 345 pounds a year.

 Sport

Laos’ national sport is Kator, which is similar to volleyball but the players use their feet instead of their hands to get the ball over the net. Try a game of petanque with some locals for a more gentle sport.

 Language

Lao is closely related to Thai. Speakers of either language can understand the other. It is a tonal language, which means that the meaning of a word is entirely dependent on the syllable that you stress. French is also commonly used, a remnant of the country’s Colonial past.

 
 

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Stories from our latest Laos blog