Laos off the beaten track: 3 Destinations to visit before everyone else does

What You’ll Find in this Blog

As a land of 237,955 square kilometers and populated by 7,614,919 people as of 2023, Laos is a treasure trove for those seeking unique and off-the-beaten-track experiences. While cities like Luang Prabang and Vientiane attract many visitors, there are lesser-known destinations that offer an authentic and untamed adventure. Let’s Indochina Voyages help you freak it out!

Muang La

Nestled in the remote northern region of Laos, Muang La is a small town that promises tranquility and cultural immersion. Here, you can experience the true essence of Laos away from the crowds. The town is surrounded by lush green mountains, picturesque valleys, and pristine rivers.

The Nam Phak River, in particular, is a paradise for nature lovers. You can take a leisurely boat ride along the river, witnessing the stunning landscapes and passing by traditional villages. Besides, Muang La’s Resort Hot Spring is also one of the highlights. You can soak in the therapeutic warm waters while enjoying the breathtaking views of the river landscape.

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the nearby Akha and Hmong villages, where you can engage with the locals, learn about their unique cultures, and even try your hand at traditional crafts. Muang La offers a peaceful escape and an opportunity to connect with nature and local communities.

Best things to do in Muang La:

  • Bathing in hot springs and admiring beautiful river views
  • Ride a bike around Khmu Village to immerse in the tranquility of Laos’s countryside.
  • Visit one of the most important attractions of Laos, Wat Pha Singkham – the Pilgrimage site of the 400-year-old Buddha
Tranquil Muang La for off the beaten track experience (Image: InsideAsia Tour)
Tranquil Muang La for off-the-beaten-track experience (Image: InsideAsia Tour)


Located in the southern part of Laos, Pakse is a vibrant city with a laid-back atmosphere. It serves as the gateway to the stunning Bolaven Plateau, famous for its coffee plantations, waterfalls, and ethnic minority villages. Start your exploration by renting a motorbike and embarking on a scenic journey through the plateau.

Coffee enthusiasts will find the Bolaven Plateau a paradise, as it is home to some of Laos’ finest coffee plantations. Take a tour of the coffee farms, learn about the coffee-making process and sample freshly brewed cups of aromatic coffee.

For a cultural experience, visit the ethnic minority villages of Katu, Alak, and Ta Oy, where you can interact with the locals and gain insight into their traditional way of life. Pakse offers a harmonious blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and especially delicious coffee.

Best things to do in Pakse:

  • Admire the panoramic view from the Golden Buddha
  • Visit the ruins of the Champa Kingdom – Vat Phow Complex Temple, which is an amazing history of Laos.
  • The Tad Fane Waterfall is a must-visit, with its impressive twin cascades plunging into a deep gorge.
  • Taste the coffee on a coffee farm
The Tad Fane Waterfall is a must-visit in Pakse (Image: The Crazy Tourist)
The Tad Fane Waterfall is a must-visit in Pakse (Image: The Crazy Tourist)

Vang Vieng

Nestled amidst the stunning karst landscapes of central Laos, Vang Vieng is a hidden gem that offers a unique blend of adventure and natural beauty. Once known for its party scene, Vang Vieng has now transformed into an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Embark on thrilling adventures like tubing, kayaking, and rock climbing, taking in the breathtaking views of limestone cliffs and the Nam Song River.

Best things to do in Vang Vieng:

  • Explore the nearby caves, such as Tham Chang and Tham Phu Kham, where you can witness impressive stalactite formations.
  • Enjoy a peaceful hot air balloon ride and witness the vastness of the surrounding landscapes from above.
  • Catch a magical sunset from Nam Xay Peak.
  • Feed the elephants and mud bath in Vang Vieng elephant sanctuary

Vang Vieng also offers opportunities for cultural immersion. Visit the local villages, interact with the friendly locals, and learn about their traditional way of life. You can visit a small-town feel, once very peaceful (However, this is quite commercialized nowadays). Vang Vieng’s untouched natural beauty and adventure-filled activities make it an off-the-beaten-track destination worth exploring.

Vang Vieng - a hub for adventure and outdoor sports
Vang Vieng – a hub for adventure and outdoor sports

For Your Reference

Besides top 3 destinations for off-the-beaten-track in Laos above, you can consider coming to these attractions below:

Si Phan Don – the 4,000 islands in Northern Laos

Set against a scenic section of the Mekong River at the southernmost point of Laos, Si Phan Don is the best attraction in the deep south of Champasak Province on your Laos travel tours and home to a small population of the highly endangered Irrawaddy Dolphins (some of the last pink dolphins in the world).

If you are looking for a quiet place to enjoy stunning mountains, the 4,000 islands fit the bill. This huge riverine archipelago offers you a true respite from the city’s noise and crowds and a great place to kick back and do nothing. There are impressive sights to be admired, history to be learned, and great food to be had in Laos, but it is the 4,000 islands that make the nation with no coastline such a gem.

Si Phan Don – hidden gems to choose for coming to Laos
Si Phan Don – the 4,000 islands

Phonsavan – the hills of paradise

The 4,000 islands might not be the biggest surprise Laos has to offer! What’s bigger? It is Phonsavan – where you will be seeing Hmong “cowboys” wearing violet and brown cowboy hats and finding yourself enjoying their bullfights hosted during Hmong New Year!

A place where you will find real-life Lao cowboys who are dressed in Stetsons and rear cattle on the surrounding lush plains, Phonsavan, which actually means “hills of paradise” in the Lao language, is a good place to experience the U.S.’s Old West, only with Laotian characteristics.

If you really want to fall off the grid and get away from it all on your Laos tours and see a more rural side of the country, Phonsavan offers it all, just do not forget your camera, as you will want to show off this part of Laos – is known, rather surprisingly, for its cowboy culture to your friends back home and be at the mercy of their envy. If you are still hanging in the hills of paradise, the Plain of Jars – a large area extending around the town of Phonsavan is your move for a day exploring a gorgeous natural structure with its ancient megalithic structures that resemble jars.

Phonsavan-the hills of paradise for Laos Where to go
Phonsavan-the hills of paradise

Laos’ off-the-beaten-track cities offer a unique travel experience that allows you to delve into the country’s natural beauty, cultural heritage, and tranquil surroundings. Muang La, Pakse, and Vang Vieng provide a blend of serenity, adventure, and enchantment. Whether you seek cultural immersion, outdoor thrills, or a peaceful retreat, these cities in Laos will leave you with unforgettable memories and a deeper appreciation for this captivating country. Embark on a journey to Laos and explore these hidden gems before everyone else discovers their allure.

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