Laos is often referred to as the hidden gem of Southeast Asia and has recently gotten much attention as one of Asia’s hottest destinations for active travellers and nature lovers. With stunning nature, rich culture and seemingly lost in time, the “Land of a Million Elephants” has a lot to offer, especially for those seeking a once in a lifetime adventure. Unlike its neighbours, Laos is landlocked, but what it lacks beach-wise, it makes up for with awe-inspiring landscapes and age-old traditions. An advantage of being “hidden” is that Laos is relatively untouched by crowds of tourists, especially in the wake of the pandemic.
At Easia Active, we feel this small, landlocked country doesn’t get the attention it deserves, and we are on a mission to change people’s minds. After reading this article, we hope you’ll feel the same and join us on our quest.
An Active Paradise: Explore the unexplored
We’ve said it before, Laos isn’t just a checklist of places to see or things to do. It is a feeling, something one experiences, an adventure through and through. The various landscapes and terrains make it a natural playground for active and adventurous travellers. Breathtaking scenery and exotic wildlife are just some of the rewards for those willing to walk the extra mile.
Hiking not your cup of tea? Head underground and explore some of the largest caves in the world! Too intense? No problem! How about cycling through the rice paddies and ethnic villages or exploring the rivers and islands by kayak?
Vientiane – Cycling in the Laid-Back Capital of Laos
Local snacks and colourful temples punctuate this laid-back adventure around Laos’s easy-going capital.
Luang Prabang – Easy Hike from Ban Nong Heo to Kuang Sy Waterfalls
An easy hike in the countryside, over hills, through forests and plantations, takes travellers through charming villages to reach the stunning Kuang Sy Waterfalls.
Getting in and out: find the perfect combo.
Laos has three international airports: Luang Prabang, Vientiane and Pakse. However, there are no direct flights from either the USA or Europe. Depending on the airports, flights are mainly via Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam or Singapore. That’s why it’s widespread for Laos to be part of a multi-country trip; not only can it be cheaper, but it’s simply there for the taking with some beautiful sights to be seen along the way.
One of our favourite ways of entering Laos is via Thailand and the Friendship bridge in Houei Xay. From there, a cruise down the Mekong takes passengers to Pakbeng and then onto Luang Prabang.
Getting around Laos
Once in Luang Prabang, you’ll be able to hop on to the new high-speed railway, a real game changer when exploring Northern Laos. The Land of a Thousand Elephants is notorious for its laboriously long transfers from one area to the next, but all that has changed since December 2021. Thanks to the new railway line, travellers can speed up their transfers and slow down the rest, making the most of their time away from home by focusing on the good stuff: adventures.
Green and eco-friendly – it’s electric and 80% of Laos’ electricity is from hydropower – travelling by train frees up time and money to visit places that are a little bit further off the beaten track and that sadly often get overlooked. There are some incredible hidden gems out there waiting to be rediscovered.
Check out our blog article about the new railway in Laos and how it changes how to plan an itinerary in Laos.
As a DMC, the new railway allows us to start developing new products and, as a result, support local communities in places where we have never really operated before due to the long transfers. The high speed railway is an exiting development both for travelers and ourselves.
Feel like a true explorer with Easia Self-Guided Tours
Our Self-Guided Tours offer travellers a flexible way to explore a neighbourhood, a city, or even a large region of a country, in their own time and at their own pace. It’s a great way to offer your travellers a sense of independence, especially for those who aren’t too keen on group tours.
Our self-guided tours range from short “stand-alone” excursions and hybrid itineraries to fully autonomous programs. For longer journeys, various traveler services such as transfers, accommodation, luggage transportation, and more can be available. Most importantly, we can assist your travellers along their journey if any issue should arise or if they wish to book any other services during their trip.
Meet Matt – Our new Country Director
Matt has been a member of the Easia Laos team for quite some time now and has supported the company in various roles before becoming Country Director. In addition to his leading role as Production Manager for Laos, he has also been actively involved in the Marketing and Business Development of the destination. He supported Easia Laos’ sustainability efforts and guided them to become Easia Travel’s first Travelife Certified destination.
Matt spends most of his free time exploring Laos, travelling the country from top to bottom on his trusty bicycle and searching for incredible places that nobody else has discovered!
Three questions for Matt Clancy
With tourism starting to pick up, what’s in the cards for Laos?
Laos as a single destination. It’s always just been an add-on to our more famous neighbours, but it needn’t be like that. There is so much to offer here… and with fewer regional flights than before, why not use this time to transition to more single-destination programs? We hope to see more and more people choosing to slow down and spend more time in Laos, really experiencing the country rather than just passing through.
What does Laos have to offer that is so unique?
We all know it has stunning natural beauty, untouched jungles and jaw-dropping waterfalls, incredible Buddhist and French Colonial architecture, and elephants… but what makes Laos unique are the people, the way they interact with you, and the magic that permeates everything here. From the sounds of the temple drums to the smells of fresh food cooking over an open fire and the monks chanting at sunset, the feeling of being so small when you summit a mountain viewpoint and see the vast expanse in front of you, the excitement as you venture into one of the world’s longest river caves…
What is your most memorable active travel experience in Laos?
How to choose? There have been so many! If I had to choose just one, it would have to be the trekking in Nam Et Phou Louey in the north! I know I keep going about it, but it’s so cool! On the second day of the hike, we encountered a baby monkey sitting on the trail just after leaving the camp. A few seconds later, the canopy shook, and 50 howling Langur monkeys swung through the trees! Such a magical experience!
Are you interested in learning more about Laos, its active product portfolio, the destination’s particulars and much more? Contact Matt directly to organize a call!