Laos

Float down the mighty Mekong river from Thailand’s golden triangle to magical Luang Prabang and you’ll fall in love with Laos. Steeped in culture, clad in jungles and mountains, Laos is one of Asia’s lesser-known jewels.

If you find the mighty Mekong River you will unearth Laos, a country who’s charm lies in its laidback, gentle lifestyle and local culture. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang and visit the mysterious Plain of Jars. A highlight of any Laoatian trip has to be the food; fabulous baguettes and snails, or local cuisine infused with fresh, wild forest herbs and spices.

To many the country’s undisputed gem is the enchanting Luang Prabang, the former Royal Capital and is still home to 50 wats (temples). Climb Mount Phousi to Wat Chan Si for a wonderful aerial view of the town at sunrise or sunset.

Wake early to witness the daily alms processions. As the sun rises, monks create a saffron coloured snake meandering through the streets. Despite being this one of the poorest nations on the planet, the residents of Luang Prabang still take part in this daily ritual of giving.

The mountainous countryside around Luang Prabang offers some great day trips. Take a refreshing swim in the bathing pools of the mystical Kwang Si Falls or a river trip to the Pak Ou Caves to view thousands upon thousands of wooden and golden Buddha statues. In total contrast to the quiet sophistication and subtle charms of the town, head to the mysterious Plain of Jars.

Though not as developed or established on the global tourism scene as its neighbours Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, its friendliness, natural beauty and cultural sites make it well worth visiting.

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