Accommodation is improving and Laos has some excellent places to stay whether staying in the city or a secluded hideaway far away from it all in the mountains or on one of its many rivers. The Capital Vientiane and the world heritage city of Luang Prabang have some great quality hotels some with exquisite colonial charm and all with a genuine friendly service. Getting away to countryside offers stunning views of the countryside. This list is not in any particular order as different hotels offer different experiences some offering the best facilities and others offering the best views. Here are my favourite ten places to stay in Laos taking in a varied selection from across the country.
Seng Arun Bungalows
Set on the banks on the Mekong on Done Khone Island these are small family run bungalows, they are pretty basic in western terms as there is still no electricity on the Island, but the wooden styled bungalows are comfortable, all with en suite showers. They overlook the old French Railway Bridge, with their excellent balconies the day could be spent relaxing on a hammock with a book and enjoying the great view.
La Residence Phou Vao
Set in the World Heritage City of Luang Prabang the city is full of old colonial charm and La Résidence Phou Vao Hotel complements this charm, built in the 1950's and renovated in 2001 it is set at the top of Vao hill. The hotel gives stunning views of the surrounding mountains of Luang Prabang as well as Phou Si Temple and the town. It also offers first class facilities and amenities such as a spa and swimming pool. The hotel uses traditional rosewood, cotton and silk so that the modern facilities and rooms do not lose their tradition feel.
Vang Vieng is a truly great town lying on the Nam Song River with stunning limestone karsts to its west. Vang Vieng was previously known as a backpacker town with cheap basic accommodation and lots of adventure activities to choose from. There are now however more upmarket places to stay now inviting a different class of tourist. The Vansana Resort is one of these on these built on the banks of the Nam Song River and boasting excellent amenities. The rooms are excellent with private balconies where you can enjoy the view of the mountains. Or enjoy one of the facilities on offer such as a traditional massage a meal on the balcony on the river or a swim in its top rate swimming pool.
A few years ago when travelling between the Thai / Laos border town of Chiang Khong / Houei Sai to Luang Prabang the two day boat trip involved a very uncomfortable overnight stay at Pak Beng. This was an unavoidable stop when taking the slow boat. Recently however the opening of the Pak Beng Lodge has changed all of that, with great views of the Mekong and great facilities it has made the two day journey to Luang Prabang and unforgettable one in the best possible way.
Chan-a-Mar Resort, Nong Khiaw
Probably one of the only luxury bungalow's in this part of Laos, set in Nong Khiaw amidst a backdrop of mountains and two rivers this place truly gives the feel of the real Laos. The owners are also set on preserving and promoting textiles of locally grown and made textiles through the GreenHeart Foundation. The bungalows have been individually designed with local materials, each with its own bathroom, hot shower and private balcony offering stunning views.
This lodge is set in the stunning Xe Pian National Protected Area about 60 Km south of Pakse in Champasak Province. It has marketed itself as being an eco-lodge, and its wooden bungalows blend in with the lush forest. There is also plenty of opportunities to explore the Xe Pian National Protected Area taking an elephant ride to Ban Pho Pho or enjoying a two day trek to Ta-Ong where you will hear and maybe even see rare Gibbons and excellent birdlife.
Senesothxeun is one of the newest places in Southern Laos, taking the accommodation options on Don Khong Island to a new level, with old charm and the great aura it gives out, it is a remarkable place to stay. The rooms are all luxury with mod-cons and private balconies, this is the place to stay if you are after luxury in the heart of the natural wetlands of Si Pan Don.
The Settha Palace is set in the heart of Vientiane and has to be one of the best places to stay in Laos an old colonial style hotel build in the early 1930's, the hotel has been restored and is a true masterpiece, with an abundance of old colonial charm. Facilities and service is second to none with landscaped gardens and a swimming pool where you can cool off.
This was the former home of a Lao prince, a boutique hotel set in Luang Prabang it blends in a traditional and modern style excellently. The interior design leaves no compromise with rich silk textiles draped on the walls and ceilings. The facilities are first grade with a spa, swimming pool all set amidst tropical gardens, the food is excellent with top class French and Laotian cuisine and the views from the private balconies unmatched.
La Folie Lodge
On the Island of Don Daeng near the World Heritage site of Wat Phu, this resort is top class giving you the best of both worlds, excellent facilities with a swimming pool and a great sandy beach on the Mekong but you are also on a secluded Island with a great beach on the river! You can explore the island by bicycle or by foot and there are even some old ruins to see on the Island.
Alex Aziz has been traveling and setting up tours in South East Asia since 2000 with vast experience and knowledge of many on and off the beaten places he now spends his time between the UK and Asia. A relaxing break takes him trekking along the Ho Chi Minh trail or kayaking the rivers of Laos http://www.xplore-asia.com