Rugged travellers in search of an underrated country to explore will enjoy the gilded temples, rice paddies and robust jungles of Laos tremendously.
For instance, Vientiane is as quirky as a capital city can get. Fly into this city and you’ll find that its easy ambience and relaxed atmosphere is a colourful (and relieving) contrast to the other capital cities of Laos’ neighbours. But don’t think it’s a sleepy city – its ‘town-lie’ feel keeps you on your feet, still, with the beautiful architecture and handicraft boutiques that will surround you.
If you’re up for something more traveller-specific, Vang Vieng is the place for you. This backpackers’ heaven (or hell – depending on how you look at it) has everything you’ll ever need to for a great party fix. A unique experience that even involves river-tubing – so go figure.
Then, re-align your spiritual half by visiting the must-see historical site of Luang Prabang. You can either trawl through the numerous temples and enjoy the tranquility of the sunset views or head over to the Pak Ou caves; either way, Buddhism-paraphernalia will be most of what you will admire.
Make the most of your time by heading up to Nong Khiaw for a day trip for one of the most picturesque and stunning views in Laos. You’ll fill up your camera storage with snapshots of the landscape. But if you’d rather get your feet moving and arms working, there are also options to kayak or trek along the Tiger Trail while you’re there.
Phonsavan is a city with an ominous and curious history. The nearby Plain of Jars will stump you. And be sure to ask of the different versions of legends that claim to explain their existence. This was also the most heavily bombed area in the world during the horrors of the Vietnam war. You'll see the locals make use of unexploded shells for all kinds of household items - unique flower pots, anyone?
(This itinerary is based on our Laos Backpacker CheatSheet, a visual guide available for free download. We offer Backpacker CheatSheets for many more countries.)