The Mekong River stretches throughout Southeast Asia, making it one of the world’s most important waterways – and there’s no better way to appreciate this natural beauty than to see it at sunset. Head over to the Mekong Riverside Park in Vientiane, crack open a cold one, and watch the sun melt into the river. If the view hasn’t done enough to take your breath away, join the daily public aerobics class at 6pm (for free!), and dance under the dimming sky.
Mekong Riverside Park Vientiane, Mekong River, Vientiane 0100, Laos
One of the most important parts of travelling is learning about history and positive impact. The COPE (Cooperative Orthotic & Prosthetic Enterprise) Visitor Center, centrally located in Vientiane, offers visitors an important insight into Laotian history. As Laos’ biggest supplier of wheelchairs and prosthetics, COPE’s museum exhibitions showcase various mobility mechanisms, illuminating the tragic, lasting impact of unexploded ordnances on Laotian lives. It offers meaningful insight into the lives of those with different abilities, and shows us how necessary enabling developments are across the globe. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.
Top Tip: COPE has bicycles you can borrow for free to explore other parts of Vientiane!
Immerse yourself in Laotian religious culture and watch the morning alms giving procession, or Tak Bat, in Luang Prabang that starts at sunrise. Monks walk along the main road, Sisavangvong Road, to collect their daily meal from the community. Since this ceremony is deeply religious, make sure to be respectful: dress modestly and don’t use flash photography.
Top Tip: Find a secluded side alley for a more authentic, less crowded experience of this sacred ceremony.
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The UXO Visitors Centre in Luang Prabang reminds and educates visitors of the egregious scale of the bombings on Laos during the Vietnam War. It’s a tragic truth that unexploded ordnances still continue to cause damage today. The UXO Visitors Centre’s exhibition informatively takes you through the history and the implications of the bombings, whilst also explaining the process of safely destroying UXOs. Be sure to watch the documentary in the side room!
Temples are a key (and stunning) feature of Laos’ landscape and are a prominent part of the culture. Unlike most of Laos’ temples, Wat Sensoukaram – Temple of 100,000 Treasures is free for you to enter! It was built in 1718 and locals believe that it was originally built with 100,000 stones from the Mekong River. Wat Sensoukaram boasts a stunning red and gold exterior, and features the beautiful unique architecture of Laos’ temples.
Top Tip: Visit it at 6pm to experience the monks praying.
Wat Sensoukaram, Sakkarine Road, Luang Prabang 0600, Laos
Experience some of Laos’ nightlife and wander around the Luang Prabang Night Market, which takes place from 5pm to 11pm, running along Sisavangvong Road. Have fun admiring various artworks, exploring the troves of clothes and handicrafts being sold, whilst sampling delicious traditional Laotian cuisine from the street food stalls.
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Featured Image from Getty, Image 1 by Drouyn Cambridge via Flickr, Image 2 via Flickr, Image 3 by Arian Zwegers via Flickr, Image 4 Wikimedia Commons, Image 5 via Wikimedia Commons, Image 6 via Wikimedia Commons