Resting in the shadows of what was once French Indochina, landlocked Laos charms you with her traditional innocence, colonial heritage and natural beauty.
Much of Laos is sparsely populated mountains, fertile plains and tributaries of the mighty Mekong. It is even more rural and relaxed than neighbouring Cambodia, and a world away from hot and heady Thailand. One of the most authentic travel destinations in Southeast Asia, Laos has long been one of our favourite destinations, with Luang Prabang one of the world’s most charming cities.
Once the ancient capital of northern Laos, Luang Prabang has a tranquil, spiritual vibe. Now a UNESCO protected site, it is awash with colourful markets, majestically gilded temples, and beautiful, colonial architecture. The town sits on the confluence of two rivers – the Mekong and the Nam Khan, and we recommend going for an early morning run along the dusty streets as the sun rises. But don’t forget to set aside one morning to get up early and give alms to the dozens of young monks who walk silently down the streets at dawn. While this has become extremely touristy, we can recommend certain spots along their route that are much quieter – a truly special experience. Cap your day off by sitting on the river bank, sipping an ice-cold cocktail, and watching the spectacular sunset over the Mekong. But don’t expect a wild and crazy evening, there is an 11.30pm curfew for all bars and restaurants in Luang Prabang – we find this little fact extra charming!
From here you can go on an incredible elephant trek escorted by mahouts: rustle through the heart of untouched jungles, skirt the Nam Khan River and encounter some astonishing wildlife. River travel also suits the calm pace of life – we can arrange a breathtaking boat trip to the Pak Ou caves or the dramatic gorges of the Ou River.
The capital city of Vientiane has managed to retain a little of its colonial charm, and it’s worth spending a day visiting temples, exploring little shops and cafes, and having dinner outdoors at the bustling night market along the river.
Laos is a favourite of the Lightfoot Travel team for its uncanny ability to leave you completely relaxed. We often get caught up in the rush of daily life, but after a few days in places like Luang Prabang or the northern provinces, we leave calm, refreshed, and ready to tackle the world! When booking your trip with us you are guaranteed expert, impartial advice and a fully bespoke itinerary.