Photo: Rosewood Hotels

This Five-Star Hilltop-Jungle Retreat Proves Laos as a Luxury Destination Worth Traveling For

Laos Luxe Travel Epic Stays
by Katie Scott Aiton Apr 9, 2024

The “Golden Triangle” of Southeast Asia was named such due to the region’s thriving opium trade from the ’50s until the early 21st century. The mountainous region, where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet, subsequently became fashionable with backpackers hopping between the countries before going south to Cambodia and Vietnam.

I’ve done this route a handful of times in my late teens and early twenties. Back then, I could have been the poster child for Lonely Planet’s South East Asia on a Shoestring guidebook. I had a $5-a-day budget, slept on overnight buses to avoid accommodation costs, ate street food, and appreciated the odd hot shower. Visiting the region as a backpacker had a profound impact on my life. Still, I wish I had the means to have a more elevated experience — especially in Laos, a country that’s seen a boom in the luxury market over the past couple of decades.

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View over the Rosewood one of the best Laos Luxury hotels

Hilltop tents at Rosewood Luang Pradbang.   Photo: Rosewood Hotels

Cities such as Luang Prabang have attracted five-star hoteliers who have established some of the best luxury hotels in the country, seamlessly blending world-class service, fine dining, and opulent accommodations with the stunning natural backdrop of the region’s mountainous landscapes and lush rice paddies.

Dramatic moment of a little boy monk.Walking in nature in Asia,Novice monk at Luang Prabang,Laos.

Laos follows Theravada Buddhism, the strictest form of Buddhism. Monks adhere to a set of rules called the Vinaya, which emphasizes simplicity and detachment from worldly possessions.   Photo: M2020/Shutterstock

Laos, landlocked by Myanmar and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, and Cambodia and Thailand to the south, might not have the Southeast Asian white beaches so many travelers flock to, but spirituality, culture, fertile plains along the Mekong River, and the people make up for it. Occupied by the French until 1953, the streets of Luang Prabang and the capital, Vientiane, are lined with colonial architecture, and you’ll note a distinctive French influence on the food scene here, too.

One of the highlights of Luang Prabang, Wat Xieng Thong was built between 1559-1560 under King Setthathirath. Photo: Wuttichok Panichiwarapun/Shutterstock
Photo: Guitar photographer/Shutterstock

Luang Prabang is one of the best examples of a blend of traditional Lao culture and modern luxury. Located in northern Laos, on the meeting point of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, the town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 and is home to some of the most sophisticated Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia.

Today, there are a handful of five-star hotels and resorts, from colonial-style mansions with upscale fine dining experiences to private retreats with infinity pools and stunning views of the surrounding mountains and rivers. One of the better hotels is the jungle hideaway Rosewood Luang Prabang.

The Rosewood lies on a jungle-clad hilltop on the outskirts of town. You’ll note a familiar French colonial architecture interwoven with influences from ancient Laotian temples, but unlike other five-star hotels in Luang Prabang, the riverside and hilltop dwellings are surrounded by a lush forested valley. Here, you’ll find yourself away from the hustle and bustle of Luang Prabang’s town center, yet still close enough to enjoy. The complimentary on-demand transfers between the Rosewood and town ensure easy access to historical sites like Wat Mai and Wat Chomsi, or the lively night markets.

Photo: Rosewood Hotels
Photo: Rosewood Hotels
Photo: Rosewood Hotels
Photo: Rosewood Hotels

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Designed by the visionary architect, Bill Bensley, the Rosewood has 23 rooms. You can choose from elegant rooms and suites, waterfall pool villas, or opt for a stay in one of the hilltop tents — Rosewood’s first (and very successful) foray into glamping. Each abode offers stunning views of the waterfalls, rivers, and hillsides — blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor living. Bensley is also known for incorporating sustainable practices into his designs, and the hotel was built under strict UNESCO guidelines to preserve the surrounding World Heritage Site.

From private candle-lit dinners by the waterfall, complimentary bikes to cycle into town, guided hikes, cooking classes, and traditional bamboo rod fishing to Laotian therapies at the Sense Spa — in true Rosewood fashion, the amenities and packaged experiences are beautifully aligned with the local culture and landscape.

Pak Ou buddhist caves,Tam-ting,Mekong River,boat,landscape,Luang Prabang,Laos

Sailing down the Mekong River allows you to take in the stunning scenery, remote villages, and historical sites that are inaccessible on foot.   Photo: Eve Sittawat/Shutterstock

You can also book a sunset river cruise. For centuries, the Nam Khan and Mekong waterways were the only way people could get in or out of Luang Prabang, and today, it remains the lifeblood of the region. Rosewood’s sailing will take you past the town on a luxury wooden boat embellished with local handwoven textiles.

Turquoise water of Kuang Si waterfall, Luang Prabang. Laos

The turquoise pools at the base of Kuang Si Waterfall are ideal for swimming, although there is a small section designated as sacred and swimming is not allowed.   Photo: Preto Perola/Shutterstock

Another must is the trek to Kuang Si Waterfall. Yes, it’s on most lists, but for good reason. The hotel runs guided tours into the mountains in the comfort of the hotel vehicle. It takes around three to five hours in total, and the hike is achievable by most with a good level of fitness. The route winds through forested hills, farmland, limestone grottos, and small villages before reaching Kuang Si, where you can cool off in the turquoise waters before retreating back to the five-star comfort of your hillside hideaway.

Learn more about the Rosewood Luang Prabang

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