Picture-perfect landscapes, cultural riches and a relaxed pace of life have earned the landlocked nation of Laos something of a cult reputation among travellers during the last decade or so. The least visited of the three countries that make up Indochina, Laos is seen as a special, secret place, and one that has retained much of the tradition that has disappeared elsewhere in the region.
Political and geographic isolation have meant that Laos lags behind other countries in the region in terms of economic growth and tourism. In many ways that is precisely its appeal, a romantic reminder of Indochina as it once was, a land of wats (temples) and saffron-robed monks, notably friendly people and unspoilt scenery that includes the mighty Mekong River.
Click on a place name below to find out more. Alternatively, to start planning where to go in Laos, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0613.
The Practical information displayed here is taken from The Traveller's Handbook, published by WEXAS (2009). While all possible care was taken to ensure accuracy at the time of publication, we are aware that situations change, so for the latest information and up-to-date visa requirements, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0613.
Hot, tropical climate. The rainy season runs from May to October, while it is generally dry from November to April. Humid in the Mekong River area, cooler in the mountains of Xieng Khuang.
Visakha Bu-saa, in May, commemorates Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death. In April, celebrations are held for Pi Mai, the new lunar year, best experienced in Luang Prabang, where the festivities can keep going for a week or more. Be warned, you will be drenched in water wherever you go! Bun Nam (Water Festival) is in October in Vientiane: as well as water fights there are boat races on the Mekong. In November, the country celebrates Pha That Luang. Best experienced at That Luang in Vientiane, this colourful event sees processions of monks receiving alms and floral votives. Normally, there will also be fireworks and music.
Laos food is very spicy and usually accompanied by sticky rice. Laap is a salad of minced meat or fish, with garlic, lime juice and chillies. Papaya Salad is also popular. Noodle soup or French style baguettes are popular breakfasts. Rice wine, known as Lao Lao, is very strong. Beer Laos is often named the best beer in Asia.
Visitors should be warned that extra-marital sexual contact between foreigners and Laotians is prohibited, and is punishable by fines of up to US$5,000 or imprisonment. It is important to remember that, as Buddhists, Lao people should not be touched on the head. Don't point your feet at people or religious objects. Women should never touch or sit next to a monk. Greetings are made with palms put together and a slight bowing of the head.
Vientiane - Wattay (VTE) 4 km from the city.
Domestic flights available. Rivers are a vital part of the country's transportation system. The most popular route is from Luang Prabang and Huay Xai on the Thai border (by slow-boat taking two days or speed boat taking six hours). Smaller boats also connect to very remote villages. Buses cover most destinations. Tuk-tuks and cycle rickshaws can be found in towns. You can also hire a car with a driver.
The itinerary ideas listed below are designed to give you a flavour of the things to do in Laos. We can adjust any element and tailor-make your trip though, to suit your individual needs and available time. To start planning your trip, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0613.
The places to stay listed below only represent a handful of the accommodation options available in Laos. We can also recommend and arrange accommodation to suit your personal tastes and budget. To start planning where to stay in Laos, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0613.
The types of holiday listed below are just a flavour of the experiences available in Laos. We can also suggest and plan alternative types of holiday to take into account your individual interests. To start planning what to do whilst away, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0613.
Belinda Gillings - Asia Specialist
To make an enquiry or to start planning your trip talk to our team of specialists on 020 7590 0613