Life moves slowly in Laos – a complex, landlocked nation that has maintained its traditional values, despite rapid regional development.
This slow-paced rhythm is plain to see in places like Luang Prabang, which sits on the sacred confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers. Each morning, you can watch hundreds of saffron-cloaked monks breeze through the streets en route to one of 33 gold-gilded Wats. The ancient town is also an ideal base from where you can explore the surrounding countryside of verdant mountains, cascading waterfalls and buddha-filled caves.
Vientiane, the capital that straddles the border, may be bigger but is equally as laid-back. Here you’ll encounter an enticing mix of golden temples, relic-strewn meadows and French architecture. Visit Pha That Luang, the country’s most sacred gold-leaf temple, before wandering over to Patuxai Gate – a huge, baroque archway reminiscent of Paris’s Arc de Triomphe.
Laos is officially known as Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), or, as the locals often joke, ‘Lao: Please Don’t Rush’. It’s this sort of relaxed attitude that flows through the rivers and valleys of Laos, whether it’s among the remote Hmong hill tribes of the north, the tattooed Kahu and Alak communities of the low-lying south, or the green rice paddies of Vang Vieng.
You’ll find a wide range of accommodation in Laos, including a variety of hotels, apartments and guesthouses in Luang Prabang and Vientiane.