Laos is a rewarding and fascinating country to visit on any tour of South East Asia. This is one country that continues to retain its charm and culture with beautiful countryside, wild forests and traditional village life.
This country has endured a difficult and turbulent past that has seen it invaded on several occasions. Today, Laos is a developing country that hasn’t been impacted by urbanization or industrialization. The vast majority of the country and its people maintain their original lifestyle with unspoiled natural landscape.
The Laos population is split between several different ethnic groups with the most popular consisting of the Lao Loum at nearly 65%, with others including the ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese, the Lao Soung and Lao Theung.
The Laos private tour is a perfect destination for the traveller that loves to explore and learn more about the local religion and culture. Buddhism has a major influence on the day-to-day life of the local people and there are plenty of fascinating monuments, temples, and pagodas in Laos. Also, the local people are great followers of the philosophy of Buddha: humility, modesty and honesty.
With friendly and honest people, delicious food, many colourful festivals, beautiful religious architecture and unspoiled landscape, Laos is a destination that is well worth exploring while on the Indochina tour.
Laos has a tropical climate with the average temperature in the region of 28° C with a sky that is mostly blue with very light to non-existent wind. The hot and wet season runs from April to September which can lead to the quite spectacular monsoon thunderstorms with the most regular rain at night in July and August.
The cool and dry season lasts from October to March with the coolest temperatures experienced throughout December and January. For travellers on the Laos holidays during this time the temperature in Luang Prabang is about 14 to 15° C.
Laos is a landlocked country that is quite small and spans a total area of 236,400 sq km with nearly 2/3 of the landscape made up of mountainous regions (Phou Bia is the highest mountain at 2,819 metres above sea level) and the remaining including plateaus and plains. The monsoon forests are also rich in a varied range of wildlife.
This country shares its borders with neighbouring countries like Myanmar to the northwest, Thailand to the west, Cambodia to the south, Vietnam to the east, and China to the north.
There are plenty of rivers throughout the country that flow into the Mekong River, which helps to create the floodplains which are used for the rice paddies. Also, there are several major cities on the Mekong, including Vientiane, Pakse and Savannakhet.
A staple in Laos is sticky rice. Hmong, Vietnamese, Chinese and a few other groups favour the non-sticky type of rice that is eaten with spoons or chopsticks and not with the fingers. Sticky rice is also served with condiments of fish paste and chilli paste which are used as a type of dipping sauce. A regular side dish for plenty of meals is soup.
In the rural parts of the country, many of the people eat locally sourced foods and raw meat that is gathered from the forests. Raw food is less popular in the cities because of the various hygiene campaigns. A popular traditional dish is larb which is eaten cooked or raw and including thin slices of meat with spices.
A major part of the diet for the lowland Lao consists of the fish dishes, while beef, buffalo and chicken is quite common, but pork is rarely eaten. In the mountainous regions and the countryside, a fermented rice beer is very popular and this is regularly consumed with the help of bamboo straws. Also, the consumption of beer is widespread in the cities.
While on the Laos travel packages there is every possibility of seeing the locals in the small market towns and cities eating bread and drinking coffee in the mornings. This is influenced by past French occupation.
Also, in the major cities that attract the tourists, there are plenty of Chinese, Indian, and French restaurants. Similar to other south east Asian countries, Laos has a great food stall scene with plenty of opportunities to try a soup-noodle dish known as feu, which has been inspired by pho; a similar dish from Vietnam.
Top places to visit in Laos
One of the outstanding destinations to visit in this country is the ancient city of Luang Prabang which is surrounded by stunning scenery and close to the Mekong River. Luang Prabang is now a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth a visit on the Laos tours. This elegant little town is rich in exquisite architecture that is well preserved and makes it possible to witness the early construction techniques. A trip further along the Mekong River is the capital city of Laos, Vientiane which is a rich in wandering Buddhist monks, lunging statues of dragons, glittering temples, and city that easily blends traditional French and Lao and architectural designs.
A visit to the north of Laos makes it possible to explore a region that is mostly sparsely populated and remote. There are plenty of isolated villages on the forested slopes that are inhibited by the ethnic minorities. A significant attraction in the northeast of the country is the Plain of Jars which is home to thousands of small and large stone jars. Also, there are a few limestone caves further east.
The Mekong River is an essential aspect of the country and a reliable source of nutrition for its ability to provide irrigation for the rice paddies, and a plentiful source of fresh fish. Plus, the river is used as a useful transport network that links Vientiane and Luang Prabang, as well as several of the southern cities, such as Champasak, Pakse, Savannakhet, and Tha Kaek. Not far from Champasak on the Laos customized tour is the remains of the ancient Wat Phu that is blessed with stunning mountain scenery. Other attractions in the south of the country include the mighty Khone Falls, the beautiful Bolavan Plateau and the islands of the Si Phan Don.