Laos has to be one of the most photographic countries in Southeast Asia
Sharing a border with both Vietnam and Thailand, it is easy to see why the official tourism slogan in Laos is “simply beautiful.”
If you are a photographer, then you will not want to put down your camera during your entire trip. Here are some images that you will be sure to want to capture.
Lying at the confluence of the Mekong River and the Nam Khan River, Luang Prabang served as the country’s capital until 1975. A different photographic opportunity lies around each corner in this city that has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
Start your day early by capturing images of monks as they walk through the city’s streets collecting food donations. No photographic tour of Laos would be complete without capturing these iconic images.
Take up-close photographs of over 2,000 plants at the Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden.
There are over 20 structures at Wat Xieng Thong Temple which make for wonderful architectural photographs.
Many of the wooden homes in this community were built during the time that France occupied the area, and they often provide wonderful street photography opportunities. Try to leave time to climb Chomsy Hill before the sun sets with your long lens in-hand to capture stunning images of the entire area.
Kuang Si Waterfall
Nature photographers will adore visiting the Kuang Si Waterfall. This waterfall, located about 18 miles south of Luang Prabang, is reachable by a short hike.
Keep your camera ready as many species of birds and wildlife live along the trail.
This three-tier waterfall bubbles from the top of a hill before the water makes its way down and forms a series of turquoise blue puddles at the bottom. The top of this waterfall is particularly stunning as a mist lifts off the water before it starts its descent.
Early morning is often the best time to photograph this location because the puddles are a favorite swimming hole for locals and tourists alike later in the day.
Vientiane is the current capital of Laos and there are many wonderful places to take photos.
Start your day by climbing to the top of the Patuxai that many think resembles the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Once you reach the top of the 165-foot structure built of concrete, which was donated by the United States government, you will be treated to amazing views of the city below.
That Luang, which many in the country consider the most important symbol of Buddhism, is stunning.
Also, surrounding the Haw Phra Kaew (which was built in 1565) are a number of photo-worthy Buddhas.
The gardens surrounding this complex are very well taken care of, and their colors stand in sharp contrast to the colors of the former temple.
End your day by capturing images of the Ban Anou Night Market with its vast amount of stalls selling unique street food. Make sure to sample the klao niaw consisting of sticky rice rolled into small balls and served in a bamboo basket.
Leave Vientiane heading south towards Savannakhet. Stop at Tha Bak to see the boats made from the fuel tanks of US B-52 bombers and take a ride on the Nam Kading River in one.
While it can be nearly impossible to receive permission to shoot photos inside the Savannakhet Provincial Museum (with its historical displays of guns, photos and archeological finds) it’s still worth a visit.
Then, if you’re still feeling adventurous, make arrangements to hire an English-speaking guide who will arrange a homestay for you near the Dong Natad Forest. It is a wonderful way to see how local people spend their days.
Additionally, make sure to visit the Phou Xang He National Protected Area that serves as home to the Phu Tai and Katang ethnic groups, along with being home to many species of mammals and birds.
You will need to rent a boat to get to Don Khon, but this island’s immense natural beauty will amaze you.
Photograph the Li Phi waterfalls which are formed by water from the Mekong River being forced to flow between the tightly packed boulders.
On the other side of the island, you will find the Khon Pa So waterfalls that are in a much more natural state. Join a cruise leaving Don Khon to see the rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins just off the coast.
After your cruise, make your way to Don Det with its beautiful scenery. Backpackers from around the world are often drawn to this island’s easy lifestyle. Make sure to join a barbecue sunset tour.
There are so many photographic opportunities in Laos, so make your reservations and pack your camera ready to see this beautiful country through your camera lens.
You won’t regret it.
I’m a professional travel photographer, and I’ve been living the digital nomad lifestyle since 2016. I make money by working on client assignments, selling stock photography and helping other photographers by sharing my experiences on this website. I move around at my own pace (I hate fast-paced travel) and like to spend a few months getting to know each place I base myself in.
My writing and photos have been featured on industry leading websites such as Digital Photography School, Atlas Obscura and the world’s leading underwater photography resource The Underwater Photography Guide. I authored an eBook called “Breaking Into Travel Photography: The complete guide to carving out a career in travel photography” that has been published on Amazon. My stock images have also appeared in ads promoting destinations and companies that sometimes has been a surprise, even to me. But I guess that’s the nature of stock photography, you never know who will license them!
I’m always happy to connect, so feel free to reach out!