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Join us on an escorted tour to Laos, a beguiling land traversed by the mighty Mekong River and carpeted in emerald green mountains. Discover ancient Buddhist monasteries, French colonial cities and much, much more.
Sandwiched between Thailand and Vietnam, Laos – the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia – sits at the heart of the Indochinese Peninsula, and also shares borders with China and Myanmar in the north and Cambodia in the south. Roughly the same size as England, Scotland and Wales combined, Laos is home to just 7 million people, giving the country a distinctly spacious and easy going atmosphere, even in the ‘big’ cities – a real rarity for this part of the world.
Laos is famous for its breath-taking natural beauty: up to 85% of the country is estimated to be covered by unmanaged vegetation and forest. The rolling green mountains and jagged limestone peaks of the north gradually give way to the flat, languid south, which is sprinkled with palm trees and lined with rice paddies. Much of life in Laos – both literally and figuratively – is based around the majestic Mekong River, which flows its way through the country and into Thailand and Cambodia.
Laid-back capital city Vientiane is located in the far south of the country, on the north bank of the Mekong near the border with Thailand, and is home to just under 1 million Laotians. Further north, also on the banks of the Mekong, nestled amongst emerald hills, is the picturesque city of Luang Prabang, an intoxicating blend of French colonial architecture and ancient Buddhist temples.
With its stunning setting and easy-going cities, Laos has much to tempt the visitor with. UNESCO-protected Luang Prabang, the country’s former capital, is undoubtedly Laos’s most picturesque city, its streets lined with palaces, temples and colonial cafés. A short drive from the city is the Kuang Si Waterfall, a picture-perfect three-tiered torrent of bluish-green water that tumbles down from the verdant jungle. Vientiane and Vang Vieng, both in the south, and Pakse, in the east, are also popular destinations in Laos.
Steamed sticky rice is a staple of the Laotian diet – it is believed that the Lao eat more sticky rice than any other people in the world! Larb – a spicy dish of marinated meat or fish, cooked with herbs and spices – is also very popular in Laos, along with tam mak hoong – a spicy green papaya salad. The culinary legacy of the French is still evident in the larger cities, where fresh baguettes are baked every day and sold by street food vendors. Coffee is also ubiquitous in Laos, as is the state-owned beer, Beerlao.
First trip to Laos? Here are a few questions you might have.
Laos is considered one of the cheapest countries to visit in Southeast Asia, and very cheap by Western standards.
Laos is a friendly and safe country for tourists to visit. That being said, petty crime isn’t uncommon, although taking sensible precautions should negate any risk. The most hassle tourists encounter is usually from over-eager street vendors and sellers. There is unexploded ordnance from the Vietnam War in some parts of the country, so you should always stick to the marked pathways and never trek alone.
UK passport holders will be issued with a 30-day visa upon arrival into the country. You must ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months from your arrival date.