LAOS

DRAMATIC KARST SCENERY, MAJESTIC WATERFALLS, ENCHANTING TOWNS, ANCIENT RUINS, & IRRESISTIBLY FRIENDLY PEOPLE

Why Laos

Rich in Buddhist traditions and beliefs and covered in lush jungles, steep mountains and majestic river valleys, Laos still remains a mysterious and off the beaten track destination. The landlocked country borders Vietnam to the East, Cambodia to the south, Thailand to the west and Myanmar and China to the North. It was a place that had been largely forgotten by visitors for decades after being embroiled in the Vietnam War. But this is not the case anymore, as the word has finally begun to spread of the countries pristine natural wonders, abundant adventure and ecotourism opportunities, picturesque towns steeped in spirituality and perhaps above all the irresistibly laidback attitude and charm of its people.

Those who embark on a journey here will witness a fairytale scene of pristine jungles, dramatic karst mountains, majestic waterfalls, stunning limestone caves and endless waterways.

as Laos continues embrace the outside world; it still retains its spirituality, mystery and charm. Those who embark on a journey here will witness a fairytale scene of pristine jungles, dramatic karst mountains, majestic waterfalls, stunning limestone caves and endless waterways. Dotted amongst the abundant nature you will discover enchanting towns and ancient Khmer ruins and be captivated by the irresistible friendliness and hospitality of the people.

Most journeys to Laos will begin in Vientiane, the delightfully sleepy capital city. Situated on the banks of the Mekong River in central Laos, the former French trading post is steeped in history and represents an eclectic mix of the countries past, present and future. Tree lined boulevards, colonial architecture and sacred temples mix with a new wave of world-class boutique hotels, gastronomic eateries and stylish cafes.

Moving North along the banks of the Song River leads to Vang Vieng, Laos’s adrenaline fueled adventure capital. The outstanding landscape of rivers and mountains surrounding the town make for a perfect setting for world class trekking opportunities, winding mountain-bike trails, kayaking trips and thrilling caving expeditions. To the east lies Phonsavan , gateway to the remarkable Plain of Jars, clusters of giant, millennia-old sandstone vessels, the origins of which remain a mystery to this day.

As you journey deeper into the country, the feeling of spiritual ambience and mystique continues to grow and this feeling is no more evident than in the northern city of Luang Prabang, the former capital of Laos and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated at the confluence of the Mekong River and the Khan River, Luang Prabang is a wonderful mosaic of traditional Lao teak houses, gilded Wats and elegant Indochinese villas set against a backdrop of verdant greenery and dramatic mountains. Wonder the tranquil streets of the city, whilst saffron-clad monks pass by collecting daily alms, and discover a treasure trove of history and heritage that would awaken the imagination of even the weariest of travelers.

For memorable hill tribe encounters, head further north to remote Luang Namtha. Embark on a trekking, cycling or kayaking journey into the enchanting countryside and immerse yourself in the culture of the colorful ethnic minorities during a homestay at one of the rural villages.

In the rarely visited but highly rewarding south, you will find Tha Khaek, a small provincial town, base for treks and mountain biking trips into the sprawling Phu Hin Bun National Protected Area, a breathtaking wilderness area of dramatic karst topography and verdant forests reminiscent of a classic Asian landscape painting. A definite highlight of the park is a boat ride into the otherworldly Tham Kong Lo caves, a 7.5km long river cave that runs deep beneath a vast limestone mountain, considered to be one of South East Asias geological wonders.

Further south you’ll reach Pakse, a relaxing regional capital that serves as a gateway to the mystical Angkor Temple Complex of Wat Phou as well as to the Bolaven Plateau, a highland region of myriad waterfalls, ethnic minority villages and coffee plantations.

Approaching the Cambodian border the Mekong River widens to reveal Si Phan Don (literally Four Thousand Islands), a picture perfect archipelago of small islands scattered along the river. Whilst exploring this idyllic landscape, time seems to almost slow down to match the pace of life here, and the laidback charm of the people you come across becomes irresistible.

Laos was controlled by Thailand (Siam) through most of the 19th century until becoming a part of French Indochina, a federation of French colonies and protectorates in Southeast Asia. In 1953 it declared its independence from France, civil war and internal conflict followed, which lasted for about twenty years. The country was also tragically embroiled in the Vietnam War, suffering through heavy bombing and the subsequent loss of people and infrastructure. It emerged from that conflict as one of the world’s poorest nations, economical mismanaged with little invested in the welfare of its people. Tourism was also severely restricted, further isolating the country.

However, since the 90s, the countries fortunes have gradually improved as its embarked on a series of major reforms, embracing private enterprise and opening up to foreign trade and investment. Foreign tourism was also welcomed as part of the effort. Today, Laos is emerging as one of Asia’s fastest growing economies, rich in valuable natural resources and a major regional supplier of hydroelectricity. Challenges remain but the future looks optimistic for this small nation as it makes its entrance on the world stage.

Laos Highlights

Bagan Myanmar Tours
Laos Culture Tours
Laos Adventure Tours
ethnic minority ladies
Minorities of Laos
Mekong River Cruises
go local tours
Laos Nature Trips
Laos Festivals

Destinations

VIENTIANE

Vientiane, the delightfully sleepy capital city. Situated on the banks of the Mekong River in central Laos, the former French trading post is steeped in history and represents an eclectic mix of the countries past, present and future. Tree lined boulevards, colonial architecture and sacred temples mix with a new wave of world-class boutique hotels, gastronomic eateries and stylish cafes.

VANG VIENG

Vang Vieng, Laos’s adrenaline fueled adventure capital. The outstanding landscape of rivers and mountains surrounding the town make for a perfect setting for world class trekking opportunities, winding mountain-bike trails, kayaking trips and thrilling caving expeditions.

LUANG PRABANG

Situated at the confluence of the Mekong River and the Khan River, Luang Prabang is a wonderful mosaic of traditional Lao teak houses, gilded Wats and elegant Indochinese villas set against a backdrop of verdant greenery and dramatic mountains. Wonder the tranquil streets of the city, whilst saffron-clad monks pass by collecting daily alms, and discover a treasure trove of history and heritage that would awaken the imagination of even the weariest of travelers.

HILL TRIBES & TREKKING IN NORTHERN LAOS

For memorable hill tribe encounters, head further north to remote Luang Namtha. Embark on a trekking, cycling or kayaking journey into the enchanting countryside and immerse yourself in the culture of the colorful ethnic minorities during a homestay at one of the rural villages.

SOUTHERN LAOS

In the rarely visited but highly rewarding south, you will find the sprawling Phu Hin Bun National Protected Area, a breathtaking wilderness area of dramatic karst topography and verdant forests reminiscent of a classic Asian landscape painting. Further south you’ll reach Pakse, a relaxing regional capital that serves as a gateway to the mystical Angkor Temple Complex of Wat Phou as well as to the Bolaven Plateau, a highland region of myriad waterfalls, ethnic minority villages and coffee plantations. Approaching the Cambodian border the Mekong River widens to reveal Si Phan Don (literally Four Thousand Islands), a picture perfect archipelago of small islands scattered along the river.

Itinerary Ideas

Laos / Essential Information

  • Visas and border crossings
  • Country facts and figures
  • Language and culture
  • Security
  • Money
  • Mobiles and the Internet
  • Travel to and around Laos
  • And more