Laos is the country in Southeast Asia where traditional lifestyles remain most to the fore. Isolated for decades by war, its people clung stoically to the old ways of the past – subsistence farming, religion and family – which makes a journey here very special.

This is the place to come to see monks in vivid saffron robes filing past stone-carved Buddhas and resplendently gilded temples; or to take a ride on an old bicycle through rice fields ploughed and planted by hand, by villagers dressed in old-style sarongs.

Experience the heady atmosphere of the ancient riverside capital, Luang Prabang, whose exquisitely painted monasteries and temples are home to a thriving community of monks; the tree-lined boulevards of the Indochina’s most relaxed capital, Vientiane; bucolic Si Phan Don (‘Four-Thousand Island’) region, where the Mekong River flows through a tangle of tributaries; or the extraordinary Plain of Jars in Xien Khuang province, whose grassy expanses are dotted with enigmatic ancient pots.

Wherever you travel in this enchanting country, however, one thing’s guaranteed: a smiling welcome from the Laotians themselves. Laos redefines the term ‘laid-back’. The pace of life here is noticeably slower than any other country in Indochina. People rarely seem in any kind of hurry, especially when it comes to the important business of eating and meeting.

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Suggested tours to Laos

Discover Indochina

Discover Indochina

18 days from £2575 per person

From the grand temples of Angkor and the laid-back town of Hoi An, to the islands of Halong Bay, vast stretches of the Mekong Delta…

Discover Laos

Discover Laos

11 days from £3600 per person

It’s hard to think of any tour in Asia cramming so many exotic sights and wonderful experiences into such short a time as this 11-day…

Pandaw: The Laos Mekong

Pandaw: The Laos Mekong

11 days from £2500 per person

This expedition traverses Laos to touch Thailand and Burma at the once notorious Golden Triangle. The cruise stops for two nights at the UNESCO World…

Laos and Angkor Wat

Laos and Angkor Wat

14 days from £4200 per person

The highlights of Laos combined with the Angkor temples of Cambodia. A journey to the highlights of Laos: Luang Prabang, Vientiane, an unforgettable cruise on…

Explore Laos

Explore Laos

21 days from £4850 per person

If you’ve three weeks to devote to exploring Laos, this route starting in Luang Prabang and ending in the far southeast is without doubt the…

Laos & Cambodia Explorer

Laos & Cambodia Explorer

13 days from £2995 per person

Laos and Cambodia, neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia, are known for the World Heritage Sites of Luang Prabang and Angkor Wat and for their shared…

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Laos Places and Experiences

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang

Enfolded by low, wooded hills, Luang Prabang languishes amid a gauzy tranquillity on a peninsula in the Mekong. Long regarded as the country’s preeminent cultural and religious capital, the town served for 15 centuries as the abode of Lao r…

Vientiane

Vientiane

Southeast Asia’s smallest capital, Vientiane, started life as a Khmer trading post on the Mekong and later expanded during the reign of the Lao Kings. Gallic influence, dating from the French Indochina era of the 19th and 20th centuries, is…

Si Phan Don

Si Phan Don

One of the most formidable impediments to full navigation of the Mekong is the mighty Khone Phapeng Falls near the Cambodian border – the largest in Southeast Asia, and a jaw-dropping spectacle, especially during the rainy season. Beyond th…

Nong Khiaw

Nong Khiaw

Sleepy Nong Khiaw, 78 miles (126km) north-east of Luang Prabang, straddles the languid Nam Ou River at the bottom of a deep, forested valley. Wonderful views of the surrounding peaks are to be had from the Chinese-built bridge that connects…

Pakse and Vat Phou

Pakse and Vat Phou

Dominated by the Mekong, the flat, riverine terrain of Laos’ southernmost region is prodigiously fertile, though seen by comparatively few foreigners until recently, when a cluster of ecolodges, boutique hotels and – crucially – a luxury ri…

Bolaven Plateau

Bolaven Plateau

Lying between the Annamite Mountains and Mekong River in the far south of Laos, the Bolaven Plateau ranks among the most remote and beautiful corners of Indochina. A lush, fertile upland filled with waterfalls, spice plantations, cardamom a…

Luang Namtha

Luang Namtha

In the far north of Laos near the Chinese border, Luang Namtha is a small provincial capital and market town that’s fast emerging as one of the country’s foremost eco-tourism and adventure centres, thanks to its proximity to the Nam Ha Nati…

Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng

Nestled on the banks of the Nam Song River, against an awesome backdrop of lofty limestone ridges and peaks, this small town 90 miles (150km) north of Vientiane, is the adventure capital of Laos. The wooded slopes, karst caves and broad, gr…

The Gibbon Experience, Bokeo Nature Reserve

The Gibbon Experience, Bokeo Nature Reserve

Huay Xai, a long, bumpy day’s drive west of Luang Prabang lining the Thai border, is home to the Bokeo Nature Reserve and its legendary ‘Gibbon Experience’. In a tract of dense, humid rainforest, a network of observation platforms high in t…

The Ethnic Minorities of Northern Laos

The Ethnic Minorities of Northern Laos

The far north of Laos retains the highest proportion of ethnic minority people in the country – a fact attributable to its convoluted geography of deep, isolated valleys and forested mountains. Collectively referred to as ‘Lao Sung’ (‘Highl…

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