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  Top 10 destinations in Laos (05/06/2018 15:54:52)
Had enough of Vietnam, toured the temples of Angkor and now you're looking for the next up and coming holiday destination in Southeast Asia? Crazy for caving, or fancy your hand at tubing in Vang Vieng?

Laos has heaps to offer, and it's still relatively off the main tourist trail. With friendly locals, cheap accommodation and some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world, Laos is definitely worth a visit and so we bring you ten awesome adventures to make the trip:

1. Luang Prabang

Want golden temples, delicious street food and beautiful arts and crafts to bring back as souvenirs? Head to Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage city that has it all. Visit Haw Kham, the former royal palace and now a national museum with stunning gardens and artefacts from the kings and queens of old. Get out of town and check out Kuang Si Falls for crystal clear blue water and some perfect swimming holes to relax in. For an afternoon of traditional art and crafts take a weaving class at Ock Pop Tok, a craft centre on the banks of the river where you can weave your own fabrics and take home your handiwork.

2. Houay Xai

Along the borders of Thailand and Laos, on the banks of the Mekong, lies the town of Houay Xai. Start the day with a visit to the morning market in Ban Muangkeo, grab a fruit smoothie and a Laotian banh mi or breakfast sandwich. Fly through the trees, ziplining through the forests of the Bokeo Nature Reserve, with The Gibbon Experience. That should keep you cheeky monkeys happy!

3. Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands)

After spending some time in land-locked Laos and enduring the intense heat, you'll be crying out for some water to cool-off in. There are plenty of islands to go around in Si Phan Don, also known as Four Thousand Islands, situated in the Mekong River in southern Laos. The main three are Don Khong, Don Det and Don Khon, the last two being the most popular and easily accessible. Hire bicycles and ride out to see Southeast Asia's largest waterfall or simply explore the countryside for a glimpse at traditional Laotian life.

4. Vang Vieng

The once infamous party town- Vang Vieng- has undergone somewhat of a makeover in the last few years since the dangerous tubing parties have been curtailed. You can still rent a tube and float down the Nam Song River from about midday everyday. Four bars have been reopened but there are restrictions on music, and the rope swings have been removed. Aside from the night time activities, you can take a head lamp and explore some of the caves in the area, or take a tuk tuk out to the Blue Lagoon for a refreshing dip.

5. Vientiane

Welcome to the capital of Laos! Visit the artisan patisseries here, for they offer the best croissants this side of Paris and you'll be forgiven for thinking you're in France. Steeped in rich French colonial history, the buildings, food and even the local language has retained much of its European influence. The city has its own Arc de Triompe, Patuxai or Victory Gate, built using concrete donated by the US originally meant for a new airport (hence its other nickname, 'The Vertical Runway').

6. Nong Khiaw

Done partying in Vang Vieng? Travel north to the sleepy riverside town of Nong Khiaw, on the banks of the Ou River, for some downtime. Rent a bungalow and float along the river all day, stopping for an ice cold Beer Lao or something to eat from one of the many riverside cafes. Looking for a bit more adventure? Try scrambling along the '100 Waterfalls' hike. The trail was only discovered in 2008 but the cascading waterfalls are beautiful and Nong Khiaw serves as a great base for the trek.

7. Phongsaly

Laos is home to many ethnic tribes, particularly in the northern regions, where many communities still live according to customs and traditions passed down over the centuries. Phongsaly, is a quaint town with some interesting Chinese restaurants and a great base for departing on treks to some of these remote corners of the country. From here you can go and stay with many indigenous hill tribes (such as the Akha and the Karen) for a unique homestay experience with some of the most welcoming people you're likely to meet in Laos.

8. Vieng Xai

The main attraction here are the caves, used as headquarters by the Pathet Lao, the revolutionaries that fought against the American-backed Lao government during the 1960s. Rent a motorbike for a day and take a guided tour of the sites to see the caves in which leaders of the Pathet Lao lived, where whole villages hid and even established schools and hospitals.

9. Tham Kong Lo

You should realise that Laos is littered with caves, but if you're going to see only one, make it Tham Kong Lo, a 7km underground network of karst limestone caves in Phu Hin Bun National Park. Inside the caves you'll find an emerald pool, believed by locals to reflect the skin of the Hindi god Indra.

10. Phonsavan

Discover the mystery of the Plain of Jars, just outside the city of Phonsavan, the most popular attraction in the area. Having survived bombardment during the Vietnam War, these fields are filled with huge stone jars; the origin or purpose of them remain unknown. Phonsavan is also one of the best places to learn about Laos involvement in the Vietnam War and relationship with the US. Head to the MAG (Mines Advisory Group) Centre and watch free screenings of documentaries about the country's war-torn past every evening.

Source skyscanner

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