Laos is an enchanting country, landlocked between Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Burma. Laos offers ancient history, glittering temples, incredible scenery and a charming slow-paced way of life. Much less travelled than its neighbouring counties, Laos offers a wonderful opportunity to get off the beaten track and experience local culture.
Laos’ capital Vientiane offers a fascinating insight into the country’s economic, political and cultural history, with an intriguing variety of architecture including Colonial houses, Soviet-style government buildings and pretty palaces, temples and monuments.
The cultural jewel of Laos is the delightful town of Luang Prabang, which is surrounded by lush green hills in the middle of the northern part of the country. The town has a wonderfully serene atmosphere, where saffron-robed monks stroll along the pavements and ornate temples twinkle in the sunshine. Luang Prabang is also the base to explore some of the country’s most picturesque scenery, such as the Kuang Si Waterfalls, and more mysterious sites such as the Pak Ou Caves.
There is plenty more culture to discover beyond Luang Prabang. Those seeking ancient history should certainly spend some time in southern Laos in Champasak Province. This is the location of the impressive Wat Phou temple, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and pre-dates the temples of Angkor. Most of the enigmatic Bolaven Plateau also lies within Champasak, with coffee plantations, waterfalls and hilltribe villages dotted throughout the countryside. Located right down in the south of the province, the 4,000 Islands offer picturesque scenery and stunning waterfalls, as well as a potential chance to spot one of the rare Irrawaddy dolphins.
The most ancient historical site in the country is the intriguing Plain of Jars. No one knows the origins and purpose of the thousands of urn-like stone jars, which are scattered across the countryside, however they date back thousands of years and make for an interesting visit. Beyond the towns and cities there are also incredible adventures to be enjoyed in untouched countryside.
Few people visit Laos without taking in the amazing capital city of Luang Prabang but few people head further north than this. Holly tells us why the north of Laos has a lot more to it than people think…