Landlocked Laos is not the easiest to get to in Southeast Asia.

But don’t miss it if you want to avoid crowded cities, enjoy extremely laid-back countrysides, and see nature.

Inspire your adventure to Laos with these must-visit places and top things to do for first-time travelers.

1. Luang Prabang

Monk apprentices at the riverside in Luang Prabang, Laos

Monk apprentices at the riverside in Luang Prabang, Laos

Why go — Luang Prabang in Northern Laos is the country’s most popular tourist attraction. This laid-back town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its exquisite Buddhist temples, French colonial buildings, and riverside setting. There’s also a lot to do and see in the area like waterfalls, caves, hiking, and slow boat cruises.

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2. Muang Ngoi & Nong Khiaw

Overlooking Muang Ngoi Neua in Ngoi, Laos

Overlooking Muang Ngoi Neua in Ngoi, Laos

Why go — If you want to go deep into the cultural and natural landscapes, go off-the-beaten-path in Northern Laos. Nong Khiaw is one beautiful place to enjoy the riverside scenery dominated  by monolith karst cliffs. Go farther down the river onboard a local slow boat to Muang Ngoi Neua and go trekking around off-the-grid farming villages.

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3. Bolaven Plateau & Champasak

Tat Fane Waterfall in Bolaven Plateau, Champasak, Laos

Tat Fane Waterfall in Bolaven Plateau, Champasak, Laos

Why go — Champasak Province in Southern Laos is the place to go if you love to see nature! The Bolaven Plateau is worth visiting for its majestic waterfalls, some of the most beautiful in Laos and maybe even Southeast Asia. Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands) is another popular place in Champasak, but only go there for serious riverside relaxing. For a change of scenery, Vat Phu located near Pakse (the main city) is worth a peek for its ancient temple ruins.

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4. Vang Vieng

View along the bicycle trail in Vang Vieng, Laos

View along the bicycle trail in Vang Vieng, Laos

Why go — Vang Vieng is infamous as a major party town, but even if you don’t go there to party, the natural scenery is worth at least a day of sightseeing. Take a bicycle and follow the village roads that pass through rice paddies surrounded by steep jungle-covered limestone karst formations.

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5. Vientiane

Patuxai Victory Monument in Vientiane, Laos

Patuxai Victory Monument in Vientiane, Laos

Why go — Vientiane is probably the most laid-back capital city in Southeast Asia. This is a good thing if you want to relax while enjoying the convenience of the big city. If you have a day to spend in Vientiane, check out the Patuxai Victory Monument and Pha That Luang (National Symbol of Laos). Or, simply watch the sunset along the peaceful Mekong riverside.

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Note: Destinations featured above are not listed by rank.