Travel off the beaten path
Laos is a Southeast Asian country traversed by the Mekong River and known for mountainous terrain, French colonial architecture, hill tribe settlements and Buddhist monasteries.
Explore 7 destinations & discover why Laos should be on your travelwishlist:
1. LUANG PRABANG
Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of Luang Prabang Province in northern Laos, lies in a valley at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers. Inhabited for thousands of years, it was the royal capital of the country until 1975. It’s known for its many Buddhist temples, including the gilded Wat Xieng Thong, dating to the 16th century, and Wat Mai, once the residence of the head of Laotian Buddhism.
2. MUANG NGOI
Historically the town is known as Muang Ngoi, Mueang for main centre and Ngoi for the Nam Ngoi river, that flows into the Nam Ou at the town. The name was changed to Muang Ngoi Neua (Muang Ngoi North) to reflect population shifts that occurred in Ngoi district during and after the civil war. Muang Ngoi now covers the joined towns of Nong Kiau and Ban Saphoun, 40 kilometres to the south. The town is also referred to as Muang Ngoi Gao (Old Muang Ngoi).
3. NONG KHIAW
Nong Khiaw is a village in the Luang Prabang Province on the Nam Ou River, where tour boats and kayaks travel. Close by, narrow footpaths wind through jungle and ascend steep limestone cliffs for expansive views. Tham Pha Thok is a series of limestone caves that served as a shelter during the Second Indochina War. Small villages dot the nearby forested mountains and rice fields.
The city of Pakse is located in southern Laos, where the Mekong and Xe Don rivers meet. It’s home to the central Wat Luang, a lavishly decorated Buddhist temple where monks collect alms at sunrise. The Champasak Historical Heritage Museum explores the region's culture through jewelery, textile and musical instrument displays. The city's past is reflected in its French colonial architecture, especially in the old quarter near Xe Don River.
5. VANG VIENG
Vang Vieng is a small town north of Vientiane, on the Nam Song River which is surrounded by striking limestone mountains and caves. Tham Poukham, to the west, is a cave with a blue-green lagoon and a reclining Buddha statue. North is the deep Tham Nam Cave, which has a spring at its entrance. Nearby, Tham Xang Cave has a stalactite resembling an elephant. The town is home to 16th- and 17th-century monasteries.
Vientiane, Laos' national capital, mixes French-colonial architecture with Buddhist temples such as the golden, 16th-century Pha That Luang, which is a national symbol. Along broad boulevards and tree-lined streets are many notable shrines including Wat Si Saket, which features thousands of Buddha images, and Wat Si Muang, built atop a Hindu shrine.
7. SI PHAN DON ISLANDS
The Si Phan Don (meaning '4,000 islands') is a riverine archipelago in the Mekong River, Champasak Province in southern Laos. Si Phan Don is dotted with numerous islands, half of which are submerged when the Mekong River is in flood. The principal islands of Si Phan Don are Don Khong (the largest), Don Som (the second largest), Don Det and Don Khon. Si Phan Don borders Cambodia and historical and cultural ties link the people on both side of the border. Pakse is the closest of the bigger cities in Laos to the area
EAT BEEF NOODLE SOUP
EAT PAPAYA SALAD
DRINK LAO LAO RICE WHISKEY
SLEEP @ LE BEL AIR RESORT (LUANG PRABANG)
Set on the riverbank of the Nam Khan river overlooking the UNESCO Heritage city of Luang Prabang Le Bel Air Resort is the premier 4-star resort in town. The resort features 66 rooms in 3 categories, has a majestic river view, a riverside restaurant as well as an infinity style pool and bar. It is the perfect place to relax in peace while being close to all central attractions.
SLEEP @ NAMKHAN ECOLODGE (LUANG PRABANG)
NamKhan EcoLodge provides the opportunity to discover the beauty of Laos and experience traditional culture whilst protecting the planet with sustainable tourism. Reconnect and feel the nature around you, awaken your senses and recharge your personal battery. They owe their name to the Nam Khan River which surrounds them on 3 sides, located just 7km from the Unesco World Heritage city of Luang Prabang in northern Laos.
SLEEP @ THE SANCTUARY LUANG PRABANG HOTEL
Located in the historic heart of the city of Luang Prabang , midway between the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers, the Sanctuary Luang Prabang Hotel is a haven of tranquility on the edge of the peninsula, close to the night market with streets, temples and restaurants typical of Laos.
SLEEP @ THE SANCTUARY NAM NGUM BEACH RESORT (VANG VIENG)
Located 30 minutes away from Vang Vieng and 120km from Vientiane capital, the Sanctuary Nam Ngum Beach Resort is ideal for sharing privileged moments. Alone or with your family, you will have the opportunity to relax on the banks of Tha Heua. The picturesque village will charm you with its inhabitants mainly composed of fishermen, its home on stilts and its various markets.
SLEEP @ THE SANCTUARY PAKBENG LODGE (PAKBENG)
Sitting on the banks of the Mekong, the Sanctuary Pakbeng Lodge is midway between the World Heritage Town of Luang Prabang, and Huay Xai, the main border crossing between northern Thailand and northern Laos. Both towns are reachable by boat, within a day.
SLEEP @ TMARK RESORT VANG VIENG
Tmark Resort Vang Vieng is the first 5-star Resort in Vang Vieng. Tmark Resort, boasts a panoramic view of the Karstic Mountains and Nam Song river and provide excellent service to all it’s guests.
SLEEP @ VILLA MAYDOU (LUANG PRABANG)
Enjoy the traditional Laotian atmosphere of one of the oldest neighborhoods of the ancient Royal capital of Laos. Located only few steps away from the historic center of the peninsula, next to the “Wat Meuna” temple, Villa Maydou embodies the heritage of Laotian culture and its peaceful way of living.
EAT @ CARPE DIEM RESTAURANT (LUANG PRABANG)
In a stunning green setting you will enjoy the delights of their cooking or simply sip a cocktail while relaxing in the middle of the magnificent Kuang Si waterfalls.
PLAY @ LAOS GROUP TOURS (LUANG PRABANG)
Laos Group Tours is one of the most professional tour operators in Laos and also leading in group tours to save cost but maintain the highest quality.
HOW TO GET THERE: There are no direct flights from the USA or Europe; flights are mainly via Bangkok, China, Vietnam or Cambodia. Popular airlines flying into Laos include Bangkok Airways, Thai Airways and Vietnam Airlines (www.vietnamairlines.com).
BEST TIME TO GO: Laos is best visited between October and April, when the weather's warm and dry throughout. River travel is best between November and January, when high water levels make passage easy along Laos' main waterway, the Mekong River
HOW TO GET AROUND: Long-distance public transport in Laos is either by bus or minivans. In some areas, you can find pickups that are converted with benches down either side. These means of transports are often used by locals and travellers.
CURRENCY: The kip is the currency of Laos since 1955. Historically, one kip was divided into 100 att.
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