Ecotourism has been promoted as a tool for economic development and nature conservation in remote areas, yet successful projects are rare. The aim of this research was to examine benefits and burdens sharing among ecotourism stakeholders and how ecotourism contributes to nature conservation in two protected areas in Laos. Mixed case study research methods were applied in the study. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected using techniques such as participant observation, semi-structured interviews, life history interviews, questionnaire surveys, and stakeholder seminars. From the analysis of the two cases, this study argues that the participation of local people ensures the long-term operation of ecotourism enterprises. By allowing local people to control the design of the rules regulating ecotourism, local communities manage to make more benefits from tourism, but it is more effective only for better-empowered communities. For disadvantaged communities, donor organizations and the public sector should play facilitating roles to empower the communities to negotiate with actors outside communities. An involvement of the private sector sustains ecotourism operation in the long run, yet the allocation of benefits and burdens between the private sector and local communities must be balanced. The conditions of the protected areas can satisfy visitors demand; however, service quality needs improvement. Also tourists voiced concerns over possible negative impacts to local communities. As long as ecotourism generates only a marginal income for the local communities, ecotourism in its current form, might not achieve long term nature conservation objectives, as alternative income options such as rubber plantations might have negative impacts on conservation.