Laos, Stamping its Mark on Asia’s Spa Scene

Writer Caroline Eden | October 28, 2013

Famous for its authentic scenery and ethnic villages, Laos is a country that has long been isolated from the outside world. Each year travellers arrive in this Garden of Eden in Southeast Asia to experience what ‘back in time’ truly means, explore all those unspoilt corners and discover the magnificent works of Mother Nature. With the establishment of numerous impeccable retreats and spas, it is slowly becoming one of Asia’s hottest wellness destinations.

Laos, surely a contender for the most laid-back country in Asia, is currently transforming itself as a wellness destination in its own right. The capital, Vientiane, is not the focus; instead nearly all of the top spas and hotels are in the museum-city of Luang Prabang, which lies 340 km north.

Luang Prabang dates back 700 years, so naturally there are plenty of traditional sights, including dozens of temples, museums and Buddhist processions, more than enough to keep even the most curious traveller occupied. Today, added to the mix, are several world-class spas making the city an essential destination for wellness seekers. So, join us and say sabaidee to Asia’s hottest spa destination.


Approximately two km from the main downtown area, is La Résidence Phou Vao, a French colonial-style classic hotel with 34 rooms and suites. The public areas are buzzy, but the hotel, given its small size, retains an air of tranquil intimacy. Guest rooms are decked out in rosewood and Lao linens and many come with comfortable balconies that offer views out into the verdant jungle beyond and the temple studded hills. The infinity pool also offers striking views and there is a sense of understated tropical luxury throughout.

The spa at La Résidence Phou Vao has an impressive, locally influenced menu which offers oils and lotions that rely on local organic gardens and farms for their ingredients and that power the excellent Laotian herbal remedies and therapies. The spa menu sincerely focuses on traditions that have been handed down through generations of locals. It is all too easy for spas with international clientele to promote the usual Swedish and Thai massages, but clearly a lot of time, research and attention has gone into the menu here, and the traditional style of the spa.

Of the numerous choices, Phonklai, a particularly relaxing oil massage, stands out, as does Piu Nuan, which promises to open up the Lao ‘secret of sensual skin’ with black sesame seeds and rice. Then there is the Mo Hom Indigo Healing Art therapy, which, inspired by tribal Hmong Shamans, is seriously effective. Using a steamed indigo herbal poultice, the therapist combines deep tissue massage techniques to rejuvenate and relax. Also, the staff at the spa are particularly attentive and gracious and help to make the Mekong Spa not only top of its class in Laos, but in the whole region.

Today, added to the mix, are several world-class spas making the city an essential destination for wellness seekers