It is only since 1989 that Laos has been opened up to tourism and while other southeast Asian countries had been able to establish a steady economy based on tourism and regional trade, Laos has been swiftly trying to catch up. Despite its remoteness, it’s become a destination for those looking to get off the beaten track, get away from the tourists and experience the bare and laid-back lifestyle that this region is famous for.
Situated in northern Laos, the ancient town of Luang Prabang is known by many as the cultural heart of the country. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, the city is encircled by mountains and is at the junction of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers. While Laos’ is a reasonably inexpensive country reflective of other countries in the region, Luang Prabang is easily the most popular city on the countries tourist trail meaning that it is also the most expensive. Despite its popularity with tourists, there is next to no nightlife. However tourists flock to this area for the city’s natural beauty not to mention its crumbling French architecture and the contrast it forms with scenic ancient temples. The former ancient capital is also very well known for being the main centre for Buddhist learning in Laos making it popular for those looking for spiritual contemplation.
One unmissable attraction on your tailor-made Laos holiday is a journey up the Mekong River. Most well known for the river’s connection with Vietnam, Laos actually has a larger section of the river. With a total span of approximately 4,400 kilometres making it one of the top ten longest rivers in the world, the most popular and the easiest way to see the river is on the river as it is flanked on either side by poor roads and it is extremely mountainous. A great way to see it is by river cruise from Huai Xai at the border with Thailand to Luang Prabang or visa versa.
No trip to Laos is complete without a trip to the capital, a city teeming with gorgeous monuments and history-bruised architecture. The magic of this city lies in the gorgeous monuments set in the city’s coarse streets and unkempt environment. Pha That Luang is only of Laos’ oldest monuments and is the crown in Vientiane’s jewel. It is a must visit for any visitors to the city.
Take a four-hour bus north from Vientiane and you’ll hit Vang Vieng. A very popular tourist spot, one of the most sought after attractions lay nearby in the limestone mountains that are a rock-climbers and spelunkers dream-come-true offering completely unexplored caves. Or instead, many visitors just like to watch life pass by in a rubber tube floating down the Nam Song River.