Laos has become very popular among the more adventurous backpacker crowd and nature lovers.For a long time only a few travelers would adventure across the Mekong to Laos. In the last few years this has changed.Cities that only a few years ago would see a handful of travelers, a week now have hundreds a day sometimes. The major cities are now filled with carbon copy foreigner friendly restaurants and cafes similar to the ones in Thailand. It is still possible to see the less developed Laos by going slightly off the beaten track, but if you're expecting a quiet ride down the river in a tube in Vang Vieng.
Laos shares international borders with China to the north, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, Thailand to the west, and Myanmar to the north west. At the present time a tourist can cross legally with all countries except Myanmar. Laos is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, Its thickly forested landscape consists mostly of rugged mountains, the highest of which is Phou Bia with some plains and plateaus. The Mekong River forms a large part of the western boundary with Thailand, whereas the mountains of the Annamite Range form most of the eastern border with Vietnam and the Luang Prabang Range the northwestern border with the Thai highlands.
Some Of The Regions In Laos
Luang Namtha Province
Luang Prabang Province
Xieng Khuang Province
Big Cities Of Laos Include
Vientian set on the bank of the Mekong River is the country's capital.
Luang Prabang a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a beautiful temple town in the north of Laos.
Luang Namtha a small town that's the perfect base for inspiring eco-trekking and village homestays in the Nam Ha NPA.
Savannakhet in the central part of the country.
Champasak former home of the royal family in exile and site of the Wat Phou temple complex.
Vang Vieng backpacker town beside the Nam (river) Song, framed by some spectacular karst mountains.
Pakse capital of Southern Laos and base for exploring the Bolaven Plateau to the east.
Phonsavan a town booming on the sale of scrap metal, the silver lining in America's bombing campaign that has made Xieng Khouang the most densely bombed province in Laos and probably the world. Base for exploring the nearby Plain of Jar sites.
Muang Khong situated on Don (island) Khong, central to Si Phan Don (the 4,000 islands).
For someone looking for great adventures in the rustic wilderness, Laos is the country for them. There are several different outdoor activities that can be found across the country. Remember to think safety first because this is a remote area of the world without good medical care and people have been hurt and died in the past.
Tubing is extremely popular and the epicenter of this is at Vang Vieng
White Water Rafting and Kayaking can be done in several areas of the country including Vang Vieng and Luang Namtha
Caves can be experienced in several parts and are a great way to learn whats underneath everything
Rock Climbing has become popular in recent years and can be arranged at several different cities
Trekking for the experienced or the beginner can be done throughout the country. Great areas to explore include Nam Ha Protected Area and it is even possible to arrange trips that allow trekkers to stay with locals.
The enigmatic Plain of Jars in mountainous Xieng Khouang Province inspire. These large stone jars and sitting in an open plains with no current day purpose. Many think it was part of ancient rituals and customs long forgotten. Luckily these jars survived the Vietnam War and are now considered an UNESCO World Heritage site. A long and hard trip to get to them it is well worth it.
The Gibbon Experience is one of the most interesting eco-projects in all of Southeast Asia. A small group of gibbons, thought to be extinct in the area, were found and this nature preserve was built. The area needs lots of care and so do the gibbons in order to have a fighting chance of recovery. The project is part conservation and part local development.
Skihotabang Stupa is in the southern Savannakhet province and is quite amazing.
Temples can be found across the country and are amazing to explore.Shopping for local handicrafts is a great way to spend time in the countless markets across the country. Remember it is illegal to bring icons of the Buddha out of the country.
4,000 Islands located in southern Laos is an amazing sight. The Mekong spreads out creating thousands of islands home to interesting cultures and fresh water dolphins.
Festivals in Laos
Makha Busa during the February Full Moon is marked by chanting, offerings and a candle lit processions. Vientiane and Wat Phu are the best places to be to witness the celebrations.
Bun Pi Mai on the 14-16 April, also know as Laos New Year, is when people take to the streets and douse each other with water, wear traditional clothing and clean their houses.These include lots of traditional clothing and elephants.
Visakha Busa in May, Full Moon celebrates the day of the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and passing into nirvana.
Boun Bang Fai in May also know as the Rocket Festival, takes place along side Visakha Busa.
Bun Khao Phans in July Full Moon, is the beginning of the 3 month Rains Retreat when monks station themselves in a single monastery.
Bun Awk Phansa in October, Full Moon and Celebrates the 3 month Rains Retreat coming to an end.
Bun Nam in October, day after Bun Awk Phansa. Also known as the boat racing festival, boat races take place in most of the larger riverside towns.
Bun Pha That Luang in November, Full Moon, is when Monks receive flowers. Processions take place between Pha That Luang and Wat Si Muang in Vientiane making it the best place to be. If you find yourself elsewhere in Laos you'll experience fireworks and plenty of drinking.
Lao National Day on 2nd December is a Public Holiday.
Laos has a hot and humid tropical climate. There are two seasons. The rainy season lasts from May until October while the much more pleasant dry season lasts from November until April.Mountainous areas, especially in the north, can get rather chilly during northern hemisphere winter, when northern winds blow from China.
Because of the humidity during the rainy season clothes that are made from quick-drying material is smart. It can get quite cold in the mountains and northern Laos near December, so try to pack a sweater or windbreaker of sorts if you are headed to Xieng Khouang Province or up north towards the Chinese border. Remember that Laos is still a very traditional Buddhist country and it is best to wear modest clothing, so avoiding shorts, tank tops or short skirts is recommended.
Laos food is very similar to that eaten in the northeastern Isaan region of Thailand: very spicy, more often bitter than sweet, and using lots of fresh herbs and vegetables served raw. Some of the raw vegetables can be used to cool your mouth when the chilis are overwhelming.Rice is the staple carbohydrate. The standard kind is sticky rice eaten by hand from small baskets called tip khao. Using your right hand, never your left, pinch off a bit, roll into a ball, dip and munch away.
The national dish is laap a "salad" of minced meat mixed with herbs, spices, lime juice and, more often than not, blistering amounts of chili. Unlike Thai larb, the Lao version can use raw meat instead of cooked meat , and if prepared with seafood makes a tasty.