The tourist-laden Laos
By Georgina Parkinson
Laos’ arrival into the traveller spotlight is relatively recent. This is a fascinating nation which is often part of a traveller trail through Asia. Just because Laos is often synonymous with gap year students weighed down with giant rucksacks, doesn’t mean it’s off-limits to couples, solo travellers or older visitors. This is a country which has plenty to offer. If you’re looking for somewhere outside the box for your next adventure, why not consider a personalised Laos holiday?
When to go
Laos has a pleasant climate, but the seasons are very different and it’s best to plan ahead before booking flights spontaneously. The best time to visit is high season between November and March; this is the driest time of year and the heat is tolerable. April and May are incredibly hot, which may be unappealing for some visitors. It rains more in June and July, but this is a fantastic time of year to see the rolling fields in bloom. In September and October, you’re likely to come across torrential rains.
Where to visit
Northern Laos is the place to be if you’re into action and adventure or you’re desperate to admire the breathtaking scenery. Here, you can climb mountains and trek through jungles. Enjoy the views from above as you zip line down to terra firma. Kayak through the narrow rivers and keep your eyes peeled for exotic birds and gibbons in the dense forests.
This is hailed as one of the most beautiful spots in South East Asia by many an intrepid explorer. The meandering waters of the Mekong River glisten in the sunshine and you’ll be transported back in time with traditional villas and glimmering Buddhist temples nestled at the foot of the domineering mountains. This is a charming place to set up camp and do some exploring. There are historical gems around every corner, and you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to sampling local delicacies and fusion foods. Gallic cuisine is big news at the moment in these parts.
When you reach the South, the Mekong River gathers pace and affords the adventurous traveller all kinds of action-packed experiences. Navigate the choppy white water rapids or hire a kayak.
Si Phan Don
This stunning archipelago is the perfect place to recharge your batteries and wind down after the thrills and spills of the tourist hot-spots. Here, you’ll find a gentler pace of life and the opportunity to chill out. The name Si Phan Don translates as ‘four thousand islands’. It’s not really known how many there are in total, but travellers tend to focus their time and attention on three main destinations: Det, Khon and Khong. If you’re looking to escape the crowds and enjoy the tranquillity, head for Khong. You’ll find all the staple backpacker activities on the other islands, such as tubing, island hopping and dolphin spotting, if these excursions take your fancy.
Laos is a beautiful, enigmatic country which has so much to offer. You can do all the traditional tourist things, see the sights and set your pulse racing with action-packed activities. You can discover an intriguing culture and learn about the influence of history and religion and you can see some of the most awe-inspiring scenery on the planet.