Laos is quickly emerging as a giant of South East Asian tourism, despite its diminutive size. In this bite-sized destination there are more thrills, spills, natural beauty and romantic scenes than you may at first expect. Book a hotel in Laos and you’ll find yourself in a land of adrenaline-filled zip line rides through the jungle, mysterious river caves, pristine forests brimming with wildlife, the rather civilised pleasures of its capital, Vientiane, and golden temples that gleam over the trees and the meandering Mekong River. There are many ways to enjoy Laos, but it’s nigh on impossible not to love it.
Vientiane – Book a hotel in the laid back capital that charms you with its cafes and soothes you with its spas. The historic quarter is all tree-lined boulevards and dazzling temples filled with saffron-clad Buddhist monks. Foodies will be in their element in the bakeries, cafes and restaurants, but everyone will enjoy the languid pace and stylish grace that typifies Vientiane.
Luang Prabang – Perhaps one of the true gems in Asia’s bejewelled crown, this UNESCO-protected city offers old-world charms, over 30 wats (temples) to explore and some of the best cuisine available anywhere in the world. Sited at the place where the Mekong and Khan rivers meet, Luang Prabang is a place to lose yourself in. Yet, just beyond its charming outskirts you can find yourself again in the thrills provided by waterfalls, jungle treks, mountain bike trails, elephant camps, river activities and some truly stunning spots of natural beauty. There’s so much to do with a hotel in Luang Prabang.
Northern Laos – Head north for more outdoor exploration. Trekking, cycling, kayaking and zip lining can all be enjoyed in the pristine forests here. Lurking nearby will be tigers and gibbons, and Laos has a very well-established ecotourism trail to take you to them.
Central Laos – The beauty of Laos is far from all above the ground, however. The underworld of Tham Kong Lo is just one area where you can explore the honeycomb of caves interspersed with verdant jungle. Get your best Indiana Jones hat on and go see what you can find!
Laos offers stunning scenery at every turn of the river. The sight of a golden temple glistening over the treetops is one that cannot help but inspire you to make that trek out to it. Tigers, gibbons and many other wildlife spotting opportunities are available, but the more civilised sights of the temples and monks in the capital city and Luang Prabang may be more your cup of tea? Take a trip to the Elephant Conservation Centre near Sainyabuli to see the pachyderms at play, or just pass the evening on the banks of the Mekong as you watch the sun set and your cares drift away.
From relaxing homestays in the remote jungle to thrilling zip line experiences through the canopy, the ‘wilder’ areas of Laos make thrilling and informative opportunities to get off the beaten track. The rivers offer tubing, kayaking and white-water rafting whilst nearby caves invite exploration. For foodies Laotian cooking courses can be organised in Vientiane or Luang Prabang – and once you’ve tasted the cuisine you will just have to know how to recreate it back home!