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Laos may be centrally situated in Southeast Asia, but it is a forgotten destination. It is a place where life moves slower and tourism is still something that is relatively new to the culture.
This nation is one of the few on the planet where the population of monks will usually outnumber the population of tourists on any given year.
You’ll find that Laos is a land that offers a beautiful wilderness to explore. The Mekong River takes a leisurely stroll throughout the country, offering limestone karsts and unique hills that make for the perfect backpacking adventure. When the fog rolls in off the mountains, the sight is one that absolutely takes your breath away. Pink dolphins can sometimes be seen in the river and don’t forget the waterfalls in the lowland deltas.
Cultural attractions are important component of any trip to Laos as well. Wat Sen at Luang Prabang is particularly impressive and protected as a world heritage site. The gilded temples which still host orange-clad monks represent six centuries of evolution, but still seems as if it were caught in a time capsule about to be opened.
The Plain of Jars, which is near Phonsavan, offers thousands of stone jars that are just scattered along the foothills. Why these manmade structures are present is not known, but the structures which have survived the wars in the area over the past decade are a stunning sight to behold.
Whether you prefer a mountain trek, a city to explore, or you prefer to kayak along the Mekong, Laos has an adventure waiting for you. Embrace the invitation.
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Laos is a rising tourism destination in Southeast Asia. Surrounded by five countries – Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Myanmar – Laos had often been overlooked by tourists, but increasingly people are drawn to this alluring country due to the beauty of its pristine natural surroundings. Laos holidays provide the chance to visit a serene Buddhist country that is largely unaffected by the commercialism of more long-established tourism hotspots in the region. The capital, Vientiane, lying along the Mekong River, was where French colonists ruled the country from and today it is growing in tourism importance, as people explore its cultural heritage and ancient past that stretches back many centuries.
For many visitors on a holiday to Laos, the capital, Vientiane, might be the most obvious choice as Wattay International Airport is just a few kilometres away. From there, you can set out and explore the city and further afield. One place that’s gaining in popularity among tourists is Luang Prabang, a city in the north central part of the country. It’s famous for its alms-collecting monks and Buddhist temples. There are also some historical and natural attractions in the area, including waterfalls and caves. Another option is the city of Pakse, down in the south of the country and capital of Champasak province, known for its stunning natural landscapes.
Laos has a tropical monsoon climate. It’s naturally cooler in the more mountainous areas of the country, and elsewhere, temperatures range from around 22C to 27C throughout the year. The rainy season is generally from May until October.
If you’re in Vientiane, you might like to begin by visiting the striking Pha That Luan Buddhist stupa in the centre of the city. It’s the country’s national symbol and is believed to date back to the 3rd century, when it was constructed as a Hindu temple, but was later turned into a Buddhist shrine.
Due to its beautiful and largely unspoiled countryside, walking tours and trekking have become popular in Laos, and are a wonderful way to experience the breathtaking countryside. Head out on your own – as long as you know the way, and how to get back – or go on an organised tour.
If you’re in Luang Prabang in the south, be sure to visit the Royal Palace. The palace was turned into a national museum in 1975 and become a favourite with visitors. The palace’s architecture combines French and Laotian elements and there’s a lovely lotus pond on the grounds.
Explore Si Phan Don — commonly known as the Four Thousand Islands — in the Mekong River. The islands of Don Det and Don Khon are popular with tourists and there’s accommodation available. You can get there by longtail boat. Among the attractions on the islands are the breathtaking Khone Phapheng Falls, the biggest in Southeast Asia.
While you’re in Luang Prabang, walk up Mount Phou Si, a hill in the city that reaches up 100 metres. There’s a Buddhist temple halfway up and another at the top – plus expansive views of the city and surrounding areas. If you’d like to get higher up and even better views, trek up Phou Khong mountain in the region, meeting local villagers along the way.
When dining out, whether at an upscale restaurant or a simple foodstall, try the country’s cuisine. Dishes can have more in common with Chinese food than Southeast Asian. Sticky rice is served with almost everything, and the best-known dish throughout the country is surely larb, a kind of salad with minced beef.