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Laos Travel – Top 5 Adventure Things To Do in Laos

Laos travel is not only beautiful, but also jam packed with adventure activities.  I’m a selective adrenaline junkie, and sports such as rock climbing and tubing in Laos get me going.  However, suggest jumping out of an plane, and expect me to run for the hills.  Southeast Asia travel continues to be incredibly rewarding.

Laos Travel

Laos Travel - Sailing Away by Dave_B_, on Flickr

Laos Travel

Laos surprised me for how active we could be and just how fun it was. My partner is Mr. Sport Extroadinaire and finding the right balance between the two of us, as backpacking partners, was sometimes challenging.  Pushing your limits is often what backpacking is about though and I’m glad I pushed mine.

You’ll be pleased to hear that Laos is one of the cheapest places in the world for adventure.  The country is easily affordable on a backpacking budget.  We could keep ourselves busy without breaking the bank.

Things to do in Laos

Rock Climbing in Vang Vieng

Whether you are a novice or a pro, Vang Vieng has a rock for you to climb.  I had only tried this once before, tucked up safely in an indoor arena. This was completely different and infinitely better. Laos has some stunning landscapes and in Vang Vieng, limestone cliffs border the town and make for perfect climbs.

With a friendly guide who spoke just enough English for him to answer my burning questions: “Yes, the harness was safe” and “No, you will not fall”, I boldly had a go and heaved myself up the rockface.  There were no markers indicating where you go like an indoor arena, this was free for all, grab on and go.  I tried three climbs (5A-C) with the difficulty intensifying each time and though failing to make it to the very top, I loved every second.

Needless to say my sporty boyfriend whizzed up every wall and even surprised the instructor by trying one of the more advanced 6A ones.  What made this challenging day all the more special was the feeling of satisfaction at pushing my body to limits I didn’t know I had and doing it all with the phenomenal Laos landscape as a backdrop.

Laos Travel

Laos Travel - Rock climbing in Vang Vieng

Tubing in Laos

Now it’s arguable whether this is an adventure sport or just a big drinking binge, but either way it deserves a place on this list.  Tubing is unique to Laos. For a small fee, a tube can be hired out and you basically chuck yourself in the water and whizz down the Mekong.  Some genius (or madman) thought to turn it into a bar crawl and now at the start of the tubing experience and all the way along, bars scatter and haul you in to partake in drinking of quite mad proportions.

Down the river you can fly off huge slides, bounce off giant inflatables and swings and generally get your heart racing. It’s often a recipe for disaster however, especially in the dry season when the river is low. Make sure you plan your trip in the wet season, when the water is high and you can drink (or not of course) and cruise down the Mekong safely in a tube. Completely random but utterly brilliant.

Vang Vieng Tubing

Laos Travel - Vang Vieng Tubing - Flickr photo credit Kressie42

Mountain Biking in Laos

Hiring a bike in Laos is so cheap it’s almost unreal. For around a dollar for a day you can venture around and explore on your own.  We chose a day where the weather didn’t look so promising and lo and behold about half an hour in the heavens opened.  Though completely off putting for me at first and one or two harsh words thrown at my man, I almost turned back. Thank goodness I didn’t as the weather cleared and I had a completely exhilarating day discovering caves and lagoons and breathing in the fragrant air from the Laotian rice fields.

Laos Adventure Travel-2

Laos Travel - Vang Vieng Landscape

Caving in Laos

Laos has many caving opportunities. Some with a guide and others with as little as “here’s a head torch and off you go”. We chose the latter and got to witness the awesome Phu Kam Cave and the Golden Buddha in Vang Vieng.  Beyond the Buddha, the cave goes on for miles and I’ll be honest, it’s pretty terrifying. But those of you that aren’t terrified of the dark and death inducing sink holes will surely love it.

Laos Adventure Travel-4

Laos Travel - Phu Kam Cave, Vang Vieng

The Gibbon Experience in Laos

What could be more heart racing than zip lining through rainforest hundreds of feet up in the air?  The Gibbon Experience was firmly on our bucket list.  I’m sad to say it still hasn’t been ticked off, however, as unfortunately we timed our trip during a particularly heavy wet season and much of the experience was closed down. We made the choice to keep it on the list and have something to look forward to when we inevitably return.

The Gibbon isn’t just a day trip either. You can live in the tree canopy and spend your days zip wiring around, trekking and visiting waterfalls. I can’t wait to move into my little treehouse and experience life as the mystical gibbon.

The Gibbon Experience

Laos Travel - The Gibbon Experience - Flickr photo credit Dave

So there you have it, strap yourself in and get your blood pumping with all sorts of adventure things to do during your Laos travel.


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Alex says:

Hi Kiri,
interesting stuff. Thank you. We are going to Laos next winter. And will definitely try some of those. What can you say about the food there? Have you liked it? Is it similar to Vietnamese or Thai?

Kiri Bowers says:

Hi Alex
Yes the food is very similar to both Vietnamese and Thai. I loved the food! Make sure you try the Laab Salad – it’s really spicy but full of fresh herbs – totally delicious!

Kiri Bowers says:

I had a visa for a month in Laos and that was perfect. You could definitely do it much quicker than that – 2 weeks even but Laos is beautiful, full of wonderful people and just a great place to chill (amongst all the activities) so if you can spend as much as month there then do 🙂

Trish Murphy says:

Wow Loas seems to be full of cool activities, how much time do you think a person needs to spend there if they wanted to do all of this stuff?

Vicky says:

Seems like you’ve put together a great list of adventurous activities in Laos! We will eventually be spending a month there during our backpacking trip and I’m very excited to participate in a lot of ourdoor activities!

Perfect! Thanks for the list. Headed there this Fall. Definitely doing the tubing!!

Lucy says:

Great article. I was hesitant about the tubing in Laos – bit worried it will be full of drunk 18 year olds getting naked, not what I want in case you were wondering!

Kiri Bowers says:

Haha! Yes me too. I’m definitely going to do it but I’m already bricking it!

Amazing! Who would have thought that Laos is an adrenalin junky’s paradise? I heard about the tubing, but I am pleasantly surprised about all the other things. The gibbon experience however freaks me out-I’d probably poo myself…:-)

Kiri Bowers says:

Yep booking ahead of the game is essential. There’s only a few tree houses so places are limited.

And trekking in Laos is awesome! Can’t wait to go back

Holly says:

I really wanted to do the Gibbon Experience but a word of warning to anyone thinking about it – you usually have to book weeks in advance, as it’s so in demand! Sounded amazing though.
If you really want to get away from the crowds, head on a trek in the northernmost hills – absolutely unforgettable.

I would love to try the zip lining thing. I’ve heard about the dangers of tubing there and with the party scene, probably something I would stay away from. Plenty of other options for adventure though!

Kiri Bowers says:

Tubing is definitely mental Jeremy! I do have a friend who did it without going to any of the bars along the way. It’s such a small cost, you can just hire a tube and make your own way down at your own pace (provided the river isn’t going too fast at that time of year)

Biking would be my pick – the scenery looks amazing! Although a whole cave to explore on my own does sound kind of fun too. 😀

Caving & rock climbing too? Can’t wait to visit!

Wow, I didn’t know there were so many adventure option in Laos. I would try everything in here except the rock climbing. I am not sure I can handle that.

Kiri Bowers says:

No worries Andrea. The project was still open despite the rain but large sections of it had to close. We wanted the full experience so have put it on the back burner for now. Also when it is really wet the two hour trek to the zip lines becomes anything up to four to seven hours long due to safer routes needing to be taken. Just bear this in mind when you go. Otherwise enjoy! Laos is a gorgeous country 🙂

Andrea says:

Laos is one of my must-see places, I cannot wait to go! I’ve been obsessed with the Gibbons Project ever since I first heard about it, I really hope it’s not closed when I go! Thanks for sharing all these fun tips 🙂

Jamie says:

Awesome…Can’t wait to try these when I’m there later this year! I definitely want to try the Gibbon Experience. It’s a splurge, but will be so worth it. Great cause too.

How did you know where to go mountain biking? I’m interested in bike touring through the entire country, but planning routes might be tough.

Stephen says:

Tubing in Vang Vieng can be a lot of fun, but be careful, usually at least one backpacker dies each month there, from banging a head on a rock in the river or from ODing.

These all sound like so much fun!

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