15 Laos Fun Facts That’ll Make You LOVE This Country

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Laos is easily one of the most underrated countries in Southeast Asia! Its unparalleled natural beauty and rich culture will have you falling in love with the country from the moment you arrive.

Let’s look at just a few of the interesting facts about Laos that inspire many adventurers to make the trip!

1. Known As “The Land Of A Million Elephants”

Laos was once called Lan Xang, which directly translates to “million elephants”. With only about 800 elephants living in Laos today, they are unfortunately an endangered species.

Elephants are praised as a national symbol in Laos today, with many conservation movements to restore their presence. I highly recommend the Elephant Conservation Center while visiting northern Laos where the elephants will thank you!

2. Live Like A Monkey In The World’s Tallest Treehouse

What better way to experience the natural beauty of Laos than by living as the monkeys do? In Nam Kan National Park you can spend a night in the world’s tallest treehouses by signing up for The Gibbon Experience, a tourism-based conservation project.

The World’s Tallest Treehouse

A beautiful hike into the park followed by a thrilling zipline ride leads you to your new treetop home with native gibbon monkeys swinging right outside your window.

3. Home To The Mother Of All Rivers

The Mekong River winds its way past neighboring countries Cambodia and China, and all the way through Laos. The word Mekong in Laos directly translates to “Mother of Rivers”, which is suitable since it allowed Laotian civilization and culture to grow and flourish.

4. Delicious Sticky Rice Goes With Everything

If you like eating rice, then you’ll enjoy Laotian cuisine. Sticky rice is a staple food to many of Laos’ famous dishes with the average person eating about 345 pounds of it per year! They are even known as luk khao niaow, which literally means “children of the sticky rice”.

Laos and Thai cuisine share many dishes in common after approximately 200,000 Lao refugees migrated to Thailand after the Vietnam war. Some of the most famous Laotian dishes include laab ped, kao niaow, and muu som, all of which are served with sticky rice.

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5. One Of The Most Incredible Waterfalls In The World Is In Laos

The Kone Phapheng Falls located in Champasak Province stretch for 6.7 miles wide, making it the widest waterfall in the world. Since it covers such a wide distance, many of the rapids from the falls have created islands with lush and diverse environments for local fauna and flora.

The rapids flow with such immense force that this waterfall is about twice the power of Niagara Falls, so you wouldn’t want to get too close!

6. Laos’ National Flower Is Absolutely Stunning

Normally I’d consider a country’s national flower to be overlooked, but Laos is 100% an exception. The Dok Champa flower is one of the most remarkable and beautiful flowers I have ever seen and is found all over Laos.

Dok Champa flower

Dok Champa, commonly known as Plumeria, is believed to represent celebrating the joys of life and remaining sincere to yourself. Laotians use these flowers in many religious ceremonies and daily rituals, and often make necklaces with these flowers to welcome visitors.

7. If You Love Coffee, You’ll Love Laos

If you’re looking to find some fantastic Southeast Asian coffee, look no further than Laos! Coffee is Laos’ biggest export, producing about 20,000 tons of it every year.

Coffee was first introduced to Laos when it was colonized by the French in the early 1900s, and today, Robusta and Arabica are the most popular.

If you’re planning on staying in Laos’ capital of Vientiane, I highly recommend checking out Annabelle Café, which is known for featuring some of Laos’ best coffee with a French-style bakery!

8. Don’t Stay Out Late: Nationwide Curfew

There’s an official nationwide curfew in Laos beginning at midnight, so skip those pub crawls! All businesses and restaurants are required to close before this time, with many closing around 10pm.

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While this might disrupt Laos’ nightlife, many Laotians happily oblige out of respect for the large population of Buddhist monks who get up early for morning prayers.

9. The Wondrous Crater Lake of Nong Fa

Up in the mountains of the Dong Ampham National Biodiversity Area is the volcanic crater lake of Nong Fa. A short hike off of a nearby mountain road, this lake is gorgeous and well worth the trip.

This lake is also shrouded in mystery and legend. According to local folklore, Nong Fa is supposedly inhabited by a beast (a giant snake-pig) that will eat anyone who tries to swim in the lake, so no one swims here.

10. Laos Is A Landlocked Country, But Has 4,000 Islands!

Si Phan Don is the riverine archipelago within the Mekong River and consists of about 4,000 unique islands. The four primary islands are Don Khong, Don Som, Don Khon, and Don Det, all of which are inhabited and are home to some of Laos’ most scenic vistas.

Island life is just as relaxing as you’d expect, and the views of the Mekong and its many waterfalls are unmatched. I recommend renting a bike or hopping on a tuk tuk and exploring what each of the main islands have to offer!

11. Dolphins That Smile Back

Irrawaddy dolphins are known for their rounded faces and small beak which give them their adorable “smiling” appearance. They are one of the only species of dolphin that live in freshwater, and they call Laos’ Mekong River home!

A Irrawaddy dolphin

Sadly, the number of Irrawaddy dolphins living in the Mekong have dwindled drastically. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), fewer than 92 dolphins are estimated to still live in the Mekong. WWF continues to work with the Cambodian Mekong Dolphin Conservation Project to try and help the Irrawaddy populations rise again.

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12. Night Safari at Nam Et-Phou Louey

Nam Et-Phou Louey National Park is an environmental conservation area in northern Laos that is home to some of the world’s most endangered species. From sun bears, tigers, elephants, and leopards, the park hosts remarkable biodiversity.

One of the most spectacular ways of experiencing Nam Et-Phou Louey is via the park’s Nam Nern Night Safari. This 24-hour boat tour through the park’s lush jungles provides up close and personal interactions with many rare animals.

13. Thakhek Loop: A Motorcyclists Dream

Tackling the Thakhek Loop via motorcycle is considered to be one of the most spectacular ways to explore Laos! The 220-mile circuit takes you through many of Central Laos’ most scenic locations, granting you an authentic experience of daily life in many small villages.

The loop can be experienced in about 3-4 days, with many fantastic detours to extend the trip. The loop ties in with a multitude of hikes, caves to explore, and boating journeys down the Mekong River.

14. The Impressive Kong Lor Cave

If you decide to travel through the Thakhek Loop, add the Kong Lor Caves to your itinerary! This elaborate cave system includes a 4.5-mile-long subterranean river that you can navigate via a guided boat tour. 

Boating on a river through a dark cave makes for an unforgettable adventure, with the views truly magical!

15. One Of The Most Bizarre Archaeological Sites In The World

In the highlands of northern Laos lies The Plain of Jars, one of the world’s most intriguing megalithic monuments. This expanse of the Xieng Khouang Plateau is covered in thousands of ancient stone jars. 

The Plain of Jars in Laos

This eerie spectacle was actually used for the burial of the dead. The jars range in height and diameter from 3-10 feet and were used in funerary practices thousands of years ago dating back to 1200 BC.


Leland grew up traveling across the United States with his family, visiting the country’s many national parks. These trips helped him find a passion for camping, hiking, and traveling the globe. From Helsinki to Saint Petersburg, Leland has traveled to several cities abroad and hopes to continue exploring and experiencing the many countries of the world. He is currently planning his honeymoon trip to Scotland, where he plans to enjoy seeing the many lochs, castles, and distilleries.

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