Our blog series on UNESCO World Heritage Sites draws to a close with exotic Laos. A destination of true mysticism, Laos has an incredible ethnic diversity and rich history that is reflected in three heritage sites: Luang Prabang Town, Vat Phou Temple Complex, and the Plain of Jars.
The town of Luang Prabang is nestled in a lush mountain valley in northern Laos. It was the first of Laos’ heritage sites to be inscribed (in 1995), and has a fascinating architectural and religious character. The city was once the capital of the Kingdom of Lane Xang (the Kingdom of a Million Elephants) and has distinct European influences from its time as a colony in the 19th and 20th century. The town has a unique blend of Buddhist and European tradition that will interest history and architecture enthusiasts.
Luang Prabang Town
Luang Prabang is situated on a peninsula formed at the convergence of the Mekong and the Nam Khan River. Its stunning location makes it more than just a religious and cultural hub. We have numerous options for activities in and around Luang Prabang in our Product Portfolio, including hiking and cycling, pottery-making, visits to temples, therapeutic encounters with elephants and many stunning cruises.
Ancient Laos Pottery Making
Luang Prabang Elephant Village
Much like Luang Prabang, the Vat Phou Temple Complex is not only great for travelers interested in history, culture and art, but also nature lovers. The complex lies between the Mekong River and the Phou Kao mountain, and the many dams, reservoirs and fountain-type statues here receive underground water directed from the mountain’s peak. The site is older than the famous Angkor Wat Complex in Cambodia, and incredible Buddhist and Khmer architecture and idols attest to the beautiful spiritual balance between nature and humanity.
Vat Phou Temple Complex
Travelers can enjoy a leisurely two-hour cycling tour passing villages and bright-green crop fields in the rural countryside of Champasak, ending just one kilometer before the entrance to the complex, in our activity, LAOS – Champasak – Along the Red Trail – Cycling. And for those looking for a longer excursion with greater insight, we offer a full-day cycling tour to the complex and the Vat Muang Kang, the oldest temple in Champasak, as well as a short boat crossing to the island of Don Daeng in our activity, LAOS – Champasak – Cycling tour: Historical & cultural trails.
Cycling Along the Red Trail
Finally, the mysterious Plain of Jars have just recently been added to the World Heritage List and are a must-see in northern Laos. The site constitutes over 2,100 unusual tubular-shaped jars that had been used for funerary practices from 500 BCE to about 500 CE (or even later) and are especially reflective of cultural systems of the Iron Age. It is the size, number and distribution of these jars that make this site so remarkable. While the area doesn’t have many hotels or a developed infrastructure, we still organize one or two-day visits to the jars.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Plain of Jars
For more information about what exotic Laos has to offer or for bookings, please contact our Sales Team here.