Looking for an exotic adventure in Laos? Explore these hidden gems!
Looking for an exotic adventure in Laos? Explore these hidden gems!


Looking for an exotic adventure in Laos? Explore these hidden gems!


Travellers want more authentic experiences, away from the westernised and sanitised caricatures of culture that have flooded the tourist hotspots of Bali and Thailand. The country of Laos is a relatively unknown wonder of the east, still waiting to be discovered. Some locations have been well established in the minds of travellers and have developed to serve the needs of all types of travellers. Luang Prabang is famed for its mix of tradition and elegance, while Vang Vieng is earned a reputation for hedonistic parties. However beyond these well-established tropes there is a vast wilderness of untapped and unexplored potential. For those looking to get off the beaten path and discover a more authentic Laos we’ve put together list of great alternatives to get you deep into the unknown.


Nothing will immerse you into the life of the locals quite like staying sharing a house. Homestays are available all around Laos and offer an intimate insight into the lives of local people. Experiencing firsthand the lives of local people is a far cry from the five star resorts and can be an eye-opening experience. While the living conditions may come as a shock, you will be overwhelmed by the generosity and hospitality of the local people who, compared to western standards, have so little. 

Joining a family for a night or two in their village can be a great experience, and one that can’t be replicated anywhere else. For people looking for the ‘real’ Laos, its doesn’t get much more real than a homestay. 

Night Safari

If you are looking to experience untouched nature, nothing is more remote and protected than the Nam Et Phou Louey Night Safari. Starting in from a small village in the north of Laos, you travel by boat deep into the Nam Et Phou Louey National Park on a journey of discovery and conservation. Staffed by experienced local guides as well as former hunters and poachers, you will learn about the conservation efforts being used to protect some of Lao’s most endangered animals. At night you will float silently downstream as your local experts spotlight the animals. Your sightings are recorded as part of the conservation efforts, with payments being made to the local community based on what you see. 

Nam Et Phou Louey Night Safar

For the best chance of seeing animals in the wild, while directly contributing to conservation efforts, the Night Safari is a unique experience in Laos. Well off the beaten track, it is a fantastic mix of history, culture, and conservation, nestled deep in the remote jungle. For people looking to experience Lao’s natural splendour it doesn’t get better than the Night Safari.

Nam Nern River Safari
Nam Et Phou Louey Night Safar

Elephant Conservation Centre

The land of a million elephants is facing a crisis of identity as wild elephant populations are rapidly declining. If you are hoping to see elephants in their natural environment then the Elephant Conservation Centre is the adventure you've been looking for.

Located on the edge of a vast wilderness, the ECC aims to rehabilitate domesticated elephants so that they can be released back into the wild. Here you can learn about the challenges and triumphs of this complicated process while observing elephants in their natural environment as they relearn the skills they will need to live in the wild. 

The ECC offers a range of accommodation and includes transportation to and from Luang Prabang. For an experience to see Asian elephants in their natural habitat and contribute to their conservation, there is nothing better than the Elephant Conservation Centre.

Kayaking on the Nam Theun Resevoir

Located on the Thakek Loop in central Laos, the Nam Theun Resevoir is a huge artificial lake created when the building of several damns flooded a large valley. The huge reservoir flooded large areas of uncleared jungle, creating an other-worldly landscape of a sunken forest as stands of dead trees rise out of the still waters. Kayaking on the reservoir is the best way to explore this landscape and experience the eerie silence of the flooded forest.

Kayaks are available to hire from Phosy Restaurant in Thalang Town. Explore the lake on your own or hire a local guide for a tour. Whatever you choose you’re sure to have a good time discovering this unique landscape. End the day back at Phosy Restaurant and enjoy a barbequed tilapia that the town is renowned for.

Ban Chanh Pottery Making Workshop

Ban Chanh Pottery Making Workshop

If you are looking for a less remote but still hands on experience, then a pottery making workshop is a great option. Located just outside of Luang Prabang, the village of Ban Chanh has been making pottery for centuries. Visitors to the town can learn from master craftsmen to make their own creations, under the skillful eye of local experts. Available as a half or full day experience, this is a whimsical way to immerse yourself in local traditions without having to travel deep into the remote jungle.

The Rock Viewpoint

Located on the northern edge of Khammoune Province and surrounded by protected areas, you can find a vast limestone forest of jagged peaks and sheer cliffs. Overlooking this rocky landscape is The Rock Viewpoint, serving excellent food and coffee. But for the intrepid adventurer who wants to explore the landscape you can take a circuit adrenaline fuelled activities to easily immerse yourself in this otherwise inaccessible terrain. Fly through the air on ziplines hundreds of meters long, summit rocky cliffs on a via ferratta, and cross between towering karsts on suspended rope bridges. The Rock Viewpoint is a great way for explore an unspoilt wilderness and have an epic adventure. If you’re looking for adrenaline fuelled wilderness experiences, then a visit to The Rock Viewpoint should absolutely be on your list of activities for Laos.

The Rock Viewpoint, Khammoune Province

Vang Vieng Challenge

If you want to explore what Vang Vieng offers beyond its party scene then why not spend a night in the jungle while having an adrenaline fuelled adventure. The Vang Vieng Challenge offers a great mix of hiking, rappelling, and ziplines as well as staying in an isolated jungle bungalow. The perfect choice for someone who wants to step off the beaten path and explore the jungles of Vang Vieng.

Abseiling during Vang Vieng Challenge

Spend the day hiking through the jungle up to a secret waterfall, hidden deep in the jungle. Here you’ll find a wooden bungalow, secluded amongst the trees and isolated away from the cacophony of civilisation. Solar panels power hot water heaters and lights, giving your jungle adventure a note of comfort and civility, or rinse off in the cold mountain waterfall. Relax in the evening with a freshly cooked dinner and the sounds of the jungle. The next day you will take a series of ziplines across gullies and abseil down giant trees, making your way back down the mountain on an adventure that you’ll remember for years to come.

If you want a multiple day, high octane adventure, deep in the jungle, then you’re unlikely to find anything more exciting than the Vang Vieng Challenge


Lao’s northern most province is also one of its most untouched. The rugged limestone mountains made much of the area inaccessible and is still heavily forested. Bordering both China and Vietnam, it has been heavily influenced by these cultures as well as the cultures of the 13 ethnic minority groups who live there. The remoteness of this cultural melting pot has created a provincial capital that is unique in Lao, with Yunnan and Lao architecture is blended with the cultural motifs of the different ethnic groups who live there. 

Ekor Tribe in Phongsali

Visitors to Lao’s most northern provincial capital can explore the ethnic museum, discover intricate handicrafts, sample potent rice whiskey and the best tea in Lao, harvested from some of the oldest tea trees in the world. Adventurers can also embark on a number of trekking tours in the nearby protected forest or climb to the top of Phou Fa Mountain for an incredible view over the town.

Phou Fa Mountain above Phongsali

If you want to get far off the beaten track and discover a more ‘authentic’ Laos, it doesn’t get much more remote than Phongsali.

From authentic cultural experiences on the doorstep of Luang Prabang to hidden pockets of traditional cultures, Laos has plenty to discover for those looking for hidden secrets. Of course, there is always more to discover, so go and Discover Laos Today!


David Ormsby

David is a writer, explorer, adventurer, outdoor educator, and guide. He was worked across the Asia Pacific in a number of different roles within the eco-tourism and outdoor industry. Since 2016 David has lived and worked in Laos, and brings a depth of experience to his writing in Laos.