Laos

ABOUT

The capital and largest city is Vientiane. Other major cities include Luang Prabang, Savannakhet and Pakse. The official language is Lao. Laos is a multi-ethnic country, with the politically and culturally dominant Lao people making up about 55 percent of the population, mostly in the lowlands. aos has been referred to as one of East Asia and Pacific’s Fastest Growing Economies by the World Bank, with annual GDP growth averaging 7.8% for the past decade.

TIME ZONE

Time in Laos is given by Indochina Time (ICT) (UTC+07:00). Laos does not currently observe daylight saving time.

CLIMATE

Laos has a tropical monsoon climate, with a pronounced r

ainy season  May through October

 a cool dry season November through February

 hot dry season in March and April.

Generally, monsoons occur at the same time across the country, although that time may vary significantly from one year to the next.

CULTURE

The ethnic Lao in Laos account for 50 to 60 percent of the population, depending on how some subgroups are classified. The way people self-identify ethnically is often contextual. Related groups include the so-called tribal Tai, Black Tai, White Tai, and Red Tai. These groups are not Buddhistsand are influenced by the neighboring Sino-Vietnamese culture. The country contained forty-three ethnic groups in 1995 according to the official classification, mostly in the countryside and mountains. The cities contain significant ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese populations.

Cities in LAOS for tourism

  1. Vientiane

As you walk around you will also find a plethora of French inspired architecture such as a Laotian version of the famous Arc de Triomphe in Paris known as Patuxai.Vientiane is the charming capital of Laos and even though this is technically a capital city, it still feels like a small town rather than anything else.Vientiane used to be a former French trading post during the colonial period, and as a result it has a delightful old French quarter than you can explore.There are also other attractions that are well worth a visit such as sprawling local markets and temples like Wat Si Saket which is the oldest of its kind in Vientiane.

  1. Luang Prabang

The town is also known for its gorgeous little European style cafes which are located along the scenic river banks and this area is so delightful that it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.You will also find gorgeous temples all over the town and if you like trekking then you can go out to the Kuang Si Waterfalls where you will find amazing azure cataracts that have deep pools which are perfect for bathing in.

  1. Vang Vieng

In the days of old this part of Laos had a rather wild reputation and a surprisingly vibrant nightlife scene, although now it has become a little more staid thanks to action taking by the local government to clean up its image.One of the main reasons to come to Van Vieng is to enjoy the tubing down the Nam Song River and you can take in the lush jungle scenery here at the same time.

  1. Huay Xai

Huay Xai is located on the border between Laos and Thailand which is the reason that many people visit when they cross from one country to the other.

It is also known however for its Mekong River cruises as you can take a boat from Huang Xai to Luang Prabang and for many visitors this is the highlight of a trip to Laos.

  1. Si Phan Don Islands

Laos is known for not having a coastline so it may sound strange to hear that it is the home of the Si Phan Don Islands which means ‘Four Thousand Islands’ in Lao.

The islands are caused by the Mekong River dispersing close to the border between Laos and Cambodia which has created these amazing little islets.

The islands vary in size which is great as you can choose some of the larger islands like Don Khon and Don Det if you want a little more nightlife and a wider range of accommodation options.

  1. Bokeo Nature Reserve

The Bokeo Nature Reserve lies outside the town of Huay Xai and is a well known nature reserve that is known for its conservation work to protect black-cheeked gibbons which were rediscovered in 1997 after it was thought that they had become extinct.

The park allows you to stay in tree houses which give you a bird’s eye view of the forest canopy and you can also partake in fun jungle activities such as swinging on a zip line As well as the famous gibbons, you will also find elephants, bears, tigers and buffalo in the park and keen bird watchers can check out hundreds of species of colorful avians.

  1. Nong Khiaw

Nong Khiaw is also known as Nong Kiau and is a pretty spot in Laos that is rapidly gaining a name for itself as one of the best places to visit in the country if you want to get away from it all.

Here you will find some amazing trekking and hiking opportunities and you can spend time biking around the scenic villages here that surround the main town.

  1. Tham Kong Lo

Tham Kong Lo is the name for the Kong Lo Cave which is part of the wider Phu Hin Bun National Park.

The park and cave sit along the Phu Hin Bun River and the central chamber is said to be one of the most spectacular in all of Southeast Asia.

The cave is some 6.5 kilometers long and is 300 feet high and is known for its stunning jade-hued pools which are said to be the same color as the skin of the Hindu god Indra.

  1. Luang Namtha

This is also a top spot for anyone who likes to go trekking as you can get out into the surrounding mountains and visit the villages of the ethnic hill tribes in Laos.

If you don’t want to trek then you can also rent a bicycle or a motorcycle and then spend the day scooting around the various villages and checking out the gorgeous waterfalls in this part of the country.

In the town of Luang Namtha itself you can spend your time visiting bustling local markets, sampling the street food and indulging in the herbal saunas here.

  1. Wat Phu

This is a Hindu temple which was built between the 11th and 13th centuries and this would have been a strategic location in the mighty Khmer Kingdom that stretched from Angkor in neighboring Cambodia.

  1. Phonsavan

Phonsavan actually means ‘Hills of Paradise’ in the Lao language and this is a great place to come if you want to see a more rural side of the country.

This part of Laos is known, rather surprisingly, for its cowboy culture and you will find real life Lao cowboys here who dress in Stetsons and rear cattle on the lush plains around Phonsavan.

This is also a good jumping off point to visit spots like the Plain of Jars which is a gorgeous natural structure that is so-named as the pillars resemble jars.

FESTIVALS

International New Year’s Day | Boun Pha Vet| Boun Ma Kha Bu Saar (Full Moon) | Boun Bang Fai “Rocket Festival |Boun Khao Salak (Rice) | Boun Ok Phansa and Boat Racing Festival |Boun Khathin | That Luang Festival and Trade Fair in Vientiane Capital

WHY?

Laos is famous for its great scenery, ethnic villages and unexplored corners. It’s probably best known for being home to some of Southeast Asia’s most spectacular waterfalls including Tad Fane and Dong Hua Sao.

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