Stuck in a time warp, this landlocked country prides itself on its laid-back nature, wealth of history and strong religious tradition. The bright orange of the Bhuddhist robes is as much part of the landscape here as the myriad of temples, the lush and meandering Mekong and paddy fields as far as the eye can see.
The recent dramatic increase in numbers of visitors has been handled sensitively, and the impact has generally been positive. Of particular interest is the revival of many now thriving arts and crafts traditions, some of which had been underutilised and all but forgotten. Visiting one of the workshops is fascinating: to meet people with such commitment to retaining these skills is a real privilege and for me a highlight of any trip to the region.
Laos combines brilliantly with its neighbours Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. One of our favourite ways to access the country is in fact over the border and along the Mekong from Northern Thailand.
Need to Know
– There are no direct flights from the UK to Laos but connections from Bangkok, a 10-hour flight from the UK, are frequent.
– Luang Prabang is so small you can access it easily on foot or by bike. Explore small villages along the Mekong by boat and you can even enter the country via the border with Thailand.
– The best time to visit is from November–April but weather patterns are increasingly unpredictable, meaning that in off season you can often get wonderful weather, far fewer tourists and lower room rates at hotels. There is also a period in February when the fields are burnt: this can be a real nuisance and should be avoided if possible.
Visa/ entry requirements
– Tourist visas are issued on arrival.
Events (festivals, wildlife migrations)
– Laotians celebrate all the major Bhuddist festivals as well as having their own elephant festival and even a boat race. If you are interested, we can work these into an itinerary and advise the right time to travel.
When to go:
November–April for dry and sunny weather. May–September are wetter but quieter months.
From about £2100 per person for a two-week trip split between Laos and Cambodia including flights. To do it in serious style it’s more like £4000 per person.
"Another Quiet American: Stories of Life in Laos" by Brett Dakin
A relaxed frame of mind. Laos is the country that always sleeps.
Did you know?
Laos was once known as Lan Xang, meaning "the Kingdom of a Million Elephants".