Laos isn’t undiscovered but it certainly receives far fewer visitors than its neighbour Thailand. The strange thing is that everyone who does visit sticks to the exact same route – Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng and Vientiane. While those places have their attractions, for us the highlights of Laos were found in less visited places further north, in quiet riverside villages overlooked by craggy green mountains. While there are some exciting activities we mostly enjoyed soaking up the very chilled atmosphere and beautiful views. We found Laos wonderfully relaxed, friendly and easy to travel around, without the hassle you find in more touristy countries.
If you are thinking of visiting Laos we encourage you to think beyond the obvious places and try some of our favourite destinations in northern Laos.
Many people enter Laos from Thailand at the Chiang Khong/Huay Xai border, but most don’t bother staying in town but instead hop on the two day slow boat to Luang Prabang. That’s a shame as they are missing out on one of the highlights of Laos and one of our favourite travel experiences.
Huay Xai is a sleepy river town (Laos has a lot of these!) and we enjoyed relaxing there for a few days. It’s also the headquarters of the Gibbon Experience, a conservation project that gives visitors the opportunity to get a monkey’s eye view of the rainforest via a network of ziplines and treehouses. This is no ordinary touristy ziplining tour though – you spend two nights sleeping in treehouses in the middle of the rainforest, far away from civilisation.