Laos is a Southeast Asian country traversed by the Mekong River and known for its mountainous terrain, French colonial architecture, hill tribe settlements and Buddhist monasteries. Vientiane, the laid-back capital, is the site of That Luang, a reliquary reportedly housing the Buddha’s breastbone, plus the Patuxai war memorial and Talat Sao (Morning Market), a shopping complex jammed with food, clothes and craft stalls.
Laos has a rich history stretching back 10,000 years. At its height, it ruled over present day Laos and much of neighbouring northern Thailand. Landlocked and laid-back, it’s a unique spin on the Southeast Asia experience.
Here Buddhism permeates every facet of life, change comes slowly, and cities bed down early. The perfect place to break from office politics or put a pause in a hyperactive travel agenda, this land of mountain, mists and untamed natural beauty tempts with unrivalled peace and serenity.
Laos is the least developed and most enigmatic of the three former French Indochinese states. A ruinous sequence of colonial domination, internecine conflict and dogmatic socialism finally brought the country to its knees in the 1970s, and almost ten per cent of the population left. Now, after two decades of isolation from the outside world, this landlocked, sparsely populated country is enjoying peace, stabilising its political and economic structures and admitting foreign visitors – albeit in limited numbers due to a general lack of infrastructure
The lack of foreign influence offers travellers an unparalleled glimpse of traditional South-East Asian life. From the fertile lowlands of the Mekong River valley to the rugged Annamite highlands, travellers who have made it to Laos tend to agree that this country is the highlight of South-East Asia.
Open your heart, open your mind, and let the genuine faith and generous hospitality of Laos replenish your soul.
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