Laos Travel Guide
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Plan Your Laos Vacation

Despite a limited infrastructure, Laos is a wonderful country to visit. Laotians are some of the friendliest, gentlest people in Southeast Asia—devoutly Buddhist and traditional in many ways. Laos has a rich culture and history, and though it's been a battleground many times in the past, this is a peaceful, stable country today. Fewer than 7 million people live in this landlocked nation whose countryside is dominated by often impenetrable forested mountains. Not yet inured to countless visiting foreigners, locals volunteer assistance and offer a genuine welcome.

Luang Prabang and its historic sites are the country's primary claim to fame and the reason most tourists visit, but as a destination Laos also excels with its abundant nature and the chance the small towns and villages here provide to escape normally overcrowded Southeast Asia. In many ways a visit to Laos is a placid throwback to what travel in Thailand was like two decades or so ago. Many parts of the country—among them 4,000 Islands in the Mekong, or Phongsaly, Muang Ngoi, and Luang Nam Tha in the north—offer a fabulous opportunity to unwind, relax, and get away from the stresses of big cities and got-to-see-everything travel. Most visitors to Laos enter via Vientiane, but even here the rhythm of life is calmer than in its regional counterparts. As you venture forth from the capital city, as nearly all visitors do and should, the vibe becomes mellower still.


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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Natural Beauty It may not have the sheer variety of Thailand, but Laos is a beautiful country. Take a multiday trek or bike ride, or enjoy the fantastic mountain scenery from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng. The far north from Luang Nam Tha to Phongsaly offers the best trekking and nature options.
  2. Archaeological Wonders The country's most unusual attraction is the Plain of Jars, which has 5-ton stone-and-clay jars of mysterious origin. Wat Phu, pre-Angkor Khmer ruins, is Laos's most recent UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  3. Buddhist Customs Observing or participating in morning alms in Luang Prabang is a magical experience; so, too, is sitting in a temple to chat with a novice monk, surrounded by the sounds of chanting and chiming bells.
  4. The Mekong The Mekong River is the lifeline of Laos. You can travel down the mighty tributary on a slow cruise, or stop at one of 4,000 islands for a chance to spot freshwater dolphins.

When To Go

When to Go

Laos has a tropical climate with two distinct seasons: the dry season, from November through May, and the rainy season, from June through October...

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