Do you know?
Laos is a Southeast Asian country and is located in the Indochinese peninsula. This land is also known as the country of the Million Elephants, and the elephant is also the symbol of this country.
Previously, Laos was not a strong country for tourism. But in the recent years, the Government and people of Laos have determined to make their image become a new destination in the world tourism map. Laos is aiming to attract 5 million tourists in 2018 and 6.2 million in 2020.
What makes the success of travel come from the simplest things. Laos does not have the shadow of amusement parks or skyscrapers. Instead, it is the simplicity of this place, the diversity of culture and the enduring beauty of nature that has transformed Laos into a resort paradise.
Natural landscape of Laos has not been devastated by humans. So when you get on your Laos tours, surely the tropical forests and ancient caves will make you think you are in another world. Also, Laos is a religious tourism destination with Buddhist culture has long been worshiped by people.
Your journey to Laos can’t miss inviting destinations such as the exotic Vang Vieng or the 4,000 Islands. You can choose to customize your schedule with experienced Laos local tour operator to make sure you have the best trip ever.
Location & Population
Laos is an independent country in the Indochinese Peninsula and is located in Southeast Asia. It borders Myanmar and China to the northwest, Cambodia to the east, Cambodia to the south, Thailand to the west and southwest. The capital of Laos is Vientiane City. This city is the only municipality of the nation and is in cooperation with 16 other provinces forming the administrative system of Laos.
Surprisingly, Laos is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia. This has led to the sea trade of Laos depends on the neighboring countries. However, due to the policy of the East-West Economic Corridor of Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand, tourists can still travel by sea to Laos through Vietnam’s seaports.
Laos is the least populous country in Southeast Asia with 6.758 million people by 2016, according to The World Bank. The population in Laos is unevenly distributed and mainly live in northern and central Laos. This has made some areas of southern Laos ideal adventurous destinations.
The Environment & Climate
Laos has mostly dense forest and rugged mountains. A various mountain ranges contribute to the natural boundaries of Laos and neighboring countries. To the east, the Truong Son Range forms almost all of Vietnam’s borders. Meanwhile, the Luang Prabang Mountains separates Laos and Thailand. Interspersed with mountain ranges are the deltas and highlands.
Due to its tropical nature, the climate of Laos is a typical tropical climate and is influenced by the monsoon. Like South Vietnam and Cambodia, Laos has two distinct seasons. The rainy season lasts from December to April next year while the dry season occurs from May to November.
Temperatures in Laos depend on the seasons and vary depending on the height. In the rainy season, especially in January, the temperature is quite cool but in the high mountains will become cold. Tourists are advised not to visit Laos from March to May because the weather is quite hot.
Although not bordered by the sea, Laos’s climate is also regulated by the Mekong. Typhoons from the Pacific often cause only rainfall in Laos due to the high mountain ranges forming a natural shield on the Eastern borders. However, major storms and some tropical depression can cross this range and cause flooding in Laos.
Language & Currency
Laos is a country with many ethnic communities. Surprisingly, the Lao government recognized 160 ethnic groups among the 49 major ethnics living in the country. Therefore, the number of languages used here is up to 84 languages. The official language of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is Lao and is used by 52% of the population
If you come from a Francophone country, you probably can communicate here since French is introduced in public schools. Laos is the second most populous country regarding the French-speaking population in Southeast Asia as a result of French domination in the 19th century.
The official Lao currency is Lao Kip (K). However, some places use some alternative currency in commercial transactions such as Thai Baht and US Dollars. Vietnamese Dong may also be used at some border points but not commonly.
Laos’s cuisine is not as diverse as its neighbors, but visitors once they come they will always remember the brilliant taste of rural foods here. The cuisine of Laos is like a hidden gem on the Southeast Asian tourist map as it receives minimal media promotion.
Most of the dishes here are not complicated. They are considered fresh and creative because the Laotian people make use of the familiar ingredients to generate new inviting flavors. However, due to the cultural interference with neighboring countries and in particular Thailand, Lao cuisine often offers the sour, spicy and sweet taste.
Famous dishes in Laos that visitors can try are the famous soup Khausoy, Ping Gai roasted chicken or Tam Lao salad.
The visa policy of Laos is quite similar to that of Southeast Asia. All visitors to Laos must hold a valid passport in 6 months. Citizens of the following countries do not need to apply for a visa to Laos: Cambodia, Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Denmark, Norway, Finland, South Korea, Japan, Sweden, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Myanmar và Brunei.
Citizens from non-visa-exempt countries need to contact Laotian diplomatic missions to obtain a visa. Visa on arrival is also available at 27 entry and exit ports in Laos.
Transportation systems in Laos are improving in recent years. The Lao government has built many highways as well as upgraded international airports here for tourism.
There are only three international airports in Laos namely Vientiane, Luan Prabang, and Pakse. The airfares here are quite high, so people use only airplanes to move to neighboring countries. The best way to move from one city to another in Laos is by bus.
Vientiane is located on the left bank of the Mekong River and is just on the natural border with Thailand. As a result, the city became an important traffic hub between Laos and Thailand.
It is peaceful city is an intersection of the old and the modern. It will not be difficult for you to see refurbished French colonial villas as busy cafés. Many people might expect a bustling capital like Bangkok. But then they will soon expose their love for this subtle city.
Take advantage of highlights such as Morning Market, Night Market as well as museums to better understand the Vientiane local life. Alternatively, you should not miss Tuk Tuk trips to hundreds of temples with outstanding gold-framed temples and shrines like the Wat Si Saket and Wat Inpeng.
Before 1975, Luang Prabang was the capital of the Kingdom of Laos and also witnessed the rule of 63 kings during the feudal period. Because of its historical and cultural values, UNESCO has recognized Luang Prabang as a world cultural heritage site.
Luang Prabang is a beautiful heritage city with the magnificent beauty of historic buildings. Coming to this royal city, visitors can see the remains of Laos Royal architecture. Most prominent include the Royal Palace Haw Kham, now the National Museum of Laos, and 30 other royal palaces.
That few places in the area show as clearly as in Luang Prabang the harmony between busy streets and gentle nature. With just a short tuk tuk trip, you are leaving behind the noisy pub streets. Outside the suburbs, the Kuang Si Waterfall or Pak Ou caves welcome you back to the root.
Being a very religious monument of Laos, Luang Prabang is home to several famous temples such as Wat Visounarath, Wat Xiengthong and Wat Vixum. Arrive a these place, a distinctive calm atmosphere quickly takes over you. You might try to participate in local’s rituals or join a meditation course for good karmas.
Named as the backpacker’s paradise, Vang Vieng is a natural tourist destination that anyone who goes to Laos can’t miss. Vang Vieng is a small town 150 km north of Vientiane. Many Laos holiday packages often select Vang Vieng as the ideal stopover because it is located on the road from Vientiane to Luang Prabang.
Eventhough backpackers are flooding into Vang Vieng in recent years, the town make its way to maintain its untouched beauty. This small town itself is likened to a watercolor painting combining the Nam Song River and the majestic mountains.
Surrounding Vang Vieng are cool rivers and lakes. The most prominent is the Blue Lagoon. This place quickly became the ideal spot to blow away the summer heat. The water in Blue Lagoon is turquoise and very quiet. You will probably find yourself on the swing with the lower half floating with the fish below. Words can’t describe enough of how people enjoy the breeze here.
Plain of Jars
The Plain of Jars in the Muong Phuong Plateau, Xieng Khouang Province of Laos is one of the most mysterious areas on Earth. Since it was discovered in the early 20th century, this place attracts the attention of the scientific community as well as of thousands of visitors every year.
The Plain of Jars is known as the land of giants. Locals believe that the 3000 remaining jars are used in some sacred rituals. When you explore this place, it might raise your concern about how people can put heavy jars of tons across the high mountains to come here. Perhaps the giant is real. Or the ancient Laotian have their secrets kept in these jars.
Cruising on the Mekong
The Mekong River boat ride is perhaps the most favorite activity for those who want to explore the nature of Laos. The Mekong River runs along the border of Laos so visitors can sail in many places across the nation.Whether traveling by a boat or by luxury cruises, your memories of the Mekong will undoubtedly be the most vivid one with shining sunset and beautiful villages.
If you’re just crossing the border from Vietnam to Laos, don’t miss the 4000 Islands. This is an archipelago on the Mekong River and is quite pristine and peaceful. From the boat, visitors can admire the timeless charm of each island and the stunning scene made of blue clouds, clear water, and the surrounding landscape. If you are lucky enough, you can spot the Irrawaddy freshwater dolphins hanging around.
The former name of Laos is “Million Elephants.” This name not only refers to Laos as the residence of thousands of elephants but also to the military power of the ancient Lao kingdoms.
Currently, an estimated 900 elephants are living in the country, with half of them is in the wild. The journey of elephants would ideally bring you to the wild jungles and pass over the rivers in Luang Prabang. People claim that this has to be their most joyful adventure in Laos.
An elephant ride can last from one to two days. If your time is limited, you can contact us for elephant rides for a few hours. With each tour, visitors will be accompanied by an English speaking guide for demonstration along the way.
Swimming and Trekking at Kuang Si Waterfall
The most beautiful waterfall in Luang Prabang has located about 30 km from the center of Luang Prabang. Travelers can quickly move to this waterfall by Tuk Tuk (for a maximum of 6 people) or rent a motorbike.
After about 60 minutes, visitors are ready to immerse into nature. Hiding behind thick layers of tropical jungles, the Kuang Si looks so inviting with its emerald water and calm pools underneath. Come to Kuang Si, in addition to sightseeing, relaxation and swimming are among favorite.
The water of the pools surrounding Kuang Si are kept in cool temperature year round. These captivating turquoise lagoons offer you a natural treatment to calm down the heatwave and stress.
You can choose to have a private picnic party down the stream or challenge your courage to hike to the top of the falls. Leaving the crowd behind, Kuang Si grants you a breath-taking adventure to its secret trek route as a reward.
There are plenty of activities for you to discover in the most peaceful capital of Southeast Asia. One of which is visiting the famous temples here. Perhaps visiting That Luang or the Great Stupa will give you a more unobstructed view of Lao Buddhism.
If you are the curious ones, there is a place called Xieng Khuan just outside the city. It is also known as the Buddha Park where there are more than 200 statues of the Buddha.
One of the favorite activities of tourists is the daily tour. This one-of-a-kind tour will introduce to curious travelers the architectural values of Laos such as the Patuxai Victory Monument or Lao National Museum. In the evening, you can’t ignore the bustling Night Market with beautiful crafts and tasty local foods.
Discover the Pak Ou Caves
Pak Ou is located near the center of Luang Prabang province. This is a unique tourist destination that has a significant spiritual and cultural value to Laotian people. Additionally, Pak Ou has a second name, Tam Ting and it means the cave of a thousand Buddhas.
The name has it all! There is an astonishing number of 4000 Buddha statues placing here. People put these statues made from wood covered with gold leaf to pay respect to the cave as they believe Pak Ou appeared even before Buddhism.
Because of the majestic and sacred scene inside the cave, tourists can’t hold their breath and have to give outstanding praises. Besides exploring the cave, getting here by boats is also a fascinating activity since travelers can get an insight of the incredible landscapes of Laos.