An Ancient Land

The landlocked southeast Asian nation of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic or Laos has a rich history going back thousands of years. Wondering just how ancient Laos’ civilization is? A human skull found in a cave in northern Laos is considered to be the oldest modern human fossil ever found in Asia, at more than 46,000 years old. The cultural capital of Luang Prabang holds the key to ancient Buddhist temples like the Wat Xieng Thong, dignified royal monuments like the Haw Kham Royal Palace Museum and the very interesting Pak Ou Caves containing hundreds of miniature Buddhist sculptures, believed to have been whittled over centuries by devotees.

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Best of three countries, Cambodia-Vietnam-Laos - Tour
  • 18 Nights 19 Days

Best of three countries, Cambodia-Vietnam-Laos

£ 1

19 days and nights spent extensively exploring the natural, historical and cultural evidences of the Indo-China plateau, beginning in Phnom Penh, a city once known as the Pearl of Asia, currently finding its place back into being a moderately busy capital, and heading on to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, which many consider as one of the seven wonders of the world and the temple which is believed to be the world’s largest religious building. Moving on to the hustle and bustle of Saigon, to experiencing up close more culturally relevant towns of Hue for its many attractions featuring the majestic tomb of Minh Mang, renowned for its architecture and forest setting. Along the way, we explore the city of Hoi An, that boasts of its historical and cultural uniqueness and individuality. Living life like a local and overlooking the karst cliffs in the vanishing grey mists of the Halong Bay in Hanoi before moving on to the capital of Laos, Vientiane- home of the massive gilded stupa, Pha That Luang, a national symbol of Laos. Finally, finishing up the last leg of the journey by stopping over in Luang Prabang, the quaint and laidback town with its waterfalls, scaling peaks and the milky-brown waters of the surreal Mekong River. Notes: Museums remain shut twice a week, every Monday and Friday The Mausoleum in Hanoi are open throughout the year apart from September and October Hiring cycles and two wheelers are subject to government permits and availability of vehicles

Call of the Wild

Covered in rugged mountains and thick forests, Laos offers unspoilt vistas and stunning diversity in flora and fauna. Indulge your taste for trekking with a unique elephant trek in the Xe Pian National Protected Area, to the top of Phou Asa and back. Laos has been in the news for recent discoveries of new species such as the saola and kha-nyou. You may also spot the more famous resident, the Indochinese tiger. In addition to mammals, Laos is home to hundreds of species of reptiles, amphibians and birds. Another jewel in the forests of Laos is the orchid. Dozens of varieties of wild orchids may be found here, especially in the Phou Khong Mountain in the Phou Xieng Thong National Protected Area. Admire them during peak blooming season in March. Breathe in the verdant surroundings at ‘car-free’ Don Daeng Island and let Laos smoothen away the wrinkles of daily life. Laos offers plenty of opportunities for ecotourism. Help local communities by travelling responsibly!

Mighty Mekong

The Mekong river forms a natural border between much of modern-day Laos and Thailand. Hence, with the tropical monsoon climate, despite being a land-locked country, Laos has a natural affinity for agriculture, sailing, fishing and life by the water, in general. Moreover, the rugged terrain creates sparkling cascades like the Kuang Si Falls and the Tat Sae Falls that surprise you around odd corners. These misty waterfalls and waterways are a balm to parched eyes. The Mekong is home to the magnificent Irrawaddy dolphin and if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of one as it breaches the surface of the river. You’re welcome to skip putting up at a stationary hotel and take a cruise down the Mekong instead. It’ll be quite an adventure!

Food for the Soul

Laos may look small on the world’s political map but the variety of flavours it offers in its cuisine makes it a force to be reckoned with on the gastronomic map. Laos has everything from Asian staples like noodle soup (khao piak sen) and Lao sausages (sai oua), sticky rice with steamed fish, locally brewed wine and whiskey, to some of the world’s best French food outside France. Street-side baguettes with a savoury filling and Lao-style crepes are bound to make it to your list of hot favourites.

A Diverse and Resilient People

The people of Laos belong to many different ethnic groups and ‘Laotian’ is an encompassing political identity. Interestingly, the government categorises the people on the basis of what altitude they live at, rather than by ethnic sub-groups. Ethnic Lao people make up the majority of the lowland Lao group, which, in fact, accounts for the majority of the country’s population. The upland Lao are composed mostly of Mon-Khmer tribes, and the highland Lao are made up of mountain tribes like the Hmong, Yao and Akha. The traditional way of life continues to be the mainstay for many ethnic groups in Laos and ProVacation gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in village life. Try your hand at distilling rice wine and observe Khor women engaged in the highly intricate embroidery that they are famous for. Be sure to dress modestly when visiting temples and sacred spaces. Whether in the cities or in rural areas, the hospitality of the Laotians will make you feel right at home.

A Gateway to the Region

With Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, China and Myanmar within easy reach, Laos is a strategic gateway to southeast Asia. A few days in Laos is the perfect complement to a holiday in Thailand, Vietnam or Cambodia. Multi-country tour packages offer fascinating insight into the political, natural, culinary and ethnic similarities and differences in the region. While these differences have long been the cause of significant conflict, they have created a rich and multi-faceted culture and experience of life here. As the official tourism slogan says, Laos is “simply beautiful!”

Step into the past when you come to Laos

While there is ample evidence of the region’s proto-historical period including stone tools, burial jars and bronze and iron objects of everyday use, the modern-day country of Laos traces its origin to 14th century Lan Xang kingdom. Political relations and conflict with the neighbouring Siamese, Chinese and Vietnamese kingdoms feature prominently in this history, along with nearly 100 years of French colonial rule. Laos won its independence, overthrew its monarchy and saw a period of civil war in the latter half of the 20th century, culminating in the establishment of its present-day Communist government. Thus, Laos is dedicated to the preservation of its ancient heritage and significant natural bounty. The fascinating Plain of Jars dates back to the Iron Age and various theories of the origin and purpose of the thousands of stone jars dotting a stretch of the Xiangkhoang Plateau attempt to solve the mystery.