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Travel to Laos

 

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In many aspects, Laos is a still undiscovered gem. It’s quite possibly a snapshot of what Southeast Asia was 50 years ago.  The country is full of natural beauty and much of it is unspoiled.

Laos is also full of historic and religious treasures. From its fascinating history of royalty and awe inspiring temples to a flavor of French colonial architecture, the country offers a unique blend of sites and experiences.

Laos tours and activities

Sightseeing in Laos
Laos is full of natural and cultural highlights sprinkled throughout the country. Visit Laos’ sleepy capital city, Vientiane, to see the Phra That Luang stupa, Putousay, and Wat Sisaket. If travels take you south, visit the scenic area of Si Phan Done (“4,000 Islands”). Be sure to explore Don Khong Island (Done Det, Done Khone, and the Li Phi and spectacular Khone Phapeng Waterfalls).

Luang Prabang, Laos
Most visitors to Laos spend at least a day or two in Luang Prabang – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore this unique town nestled between the banks of the Mekong and Khan Rivers. Visit the main sites including Phoussy Temple, Wat Xieng Thong temple, the National Museum (once the Royal Palace) and Phou Sii hill for panoramic views in all directions.

River Cruising in Laos
The Mekong River is the longest river in Southeast Asia and is often referred to as the lifeblood of the region, with tens of millions of people said to depend on the river for their livelihood. In Laos the Mekong is known as the Nam Khong and runs the length of this land locked country. Several opportunities exist to take river cruises along this beautiful stretch of waterway.

Nature in Laos
The countryside and mountains in Laos surrounds you with natural beauty. If you’re in Luan Prabang, take a day trip to the scenic Kuang Sii waterfalls. If time allows be sure to get onto the mighty Mekong River and see the interesting Pak Ou caves.

Shopping in Laos
Laos is populated with highly skilled artisans in silversmithing and the fiber arts. Traditional woven silk and cotton textiles are plentiful, and hill-tribe basketry is the perfect example of fine craftsmanship. Hand-woven silk or cotton fabrics and scarves with traditional, colorful designs are a real value.  The best place to purchase textiles and silverware in Vientiane is at the talad sao, or morning market.  In Luang Prabang, there is a fabulous night market along Sisavangvong Road and its side streets.

Dining in Laos
Chinese and French influences are prominent in the local cuisine, and the combination is delicious. Sticky rice is a staple served with most Lao dishes, and it’s often served with nam prik, a spicy chili dip. Try some of the local favorites, including fur, a hearty local noodle soup usually served with beef, buffalo or pork.

Laos – Insider tip

Get up early one morning to witness the procession of monks as they seek alms. This is an extraordinary daily ritual that happens after morning prayers (shortly after dawn).

Laos Fast Facts:

Population of Laos
6.5 million

Languages in Laos
Lao, Thai, English, French

Religions in Laos
Buddhist

Time Zone in Laos
Seven hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+7 GMT). Daylight Saving Time is not observed.

Voltage Requirements in Laos
220 volts

Currency in Laos
Lao kip, pronounced geep

Weather in Laos
The best time to visit is November-February, when the day temperatures are in the 80s-90s F. Humidity is high even then, but the worst time to visit is March-May, when temperatures and humidity climb even higher.  The rainy season is June-October.

Laos Geography
The landlocked country of Laos is long , narrow and very mountainous. Its northern region is full of jungle terrain, rivers and high plateaus and peaks.  In contrast, the south is not as wet and serves as farmland. The Mekong River, which defines much of the country’s western border, is a critical aspect to the lives of Laos’ people.

Safety in Laos
Travel in Laos is generally safe, but use common sense and caution just as you would any other international destination.  Keep valuables out of sight and your wallet or purse close by at all times. 

Laos Fun Facts:

  • China has become the largest investor in Laos, dramatically outpacing neighboring Thailand and Vietnam.
  • The Laotian government has signed dozens of contracts with China, including concessions for agribusiness industries, particularly rubber, timber, mining and telecoms.
  • Laos currently has 20 protected national parks and two UNESCO World Heritage Sites—Luang Prabang and the pre-Angkor Vat Phou temple complex.
  • The Lao government recognizes 68 distinct ethnic groups in the country.
  • Lao wats and Buddha images look a little different from those in Thailand and other Southeast Asian cultures. Traditional Lao wats have multitiered roofs that sweep downward. Lao Buddha images have streamlined bodies with robes that flare upward at the bottom.
  • During the Vietnam War, U.S. planes dropped more than 2 million tons of bombs over Laos—double the amount dropped over Germany during World War II. On a per-capita basis, Laos remains the most heavily bombed nation in history.
  • One of the country’s biggest exports and best-selling domestic products is Beer Lao. The brew is regarded as one of the finest beers in Southeast Asia and represents more than 95% of the local beer market.

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