The little country of Laos lies in the middle of Southeast Asia and boarders with some of the most popular and powerful countries in Asia, sitting between China to the north, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west.
While it is often overlooked by some of it’s more famous neighbours, Laos is a beautifully unique and diverse country, brimming with cascading waterfalls, mountain ranges, wildlife encounters and lying along the Mekong River.
Luang Prabang is one of the most popular cities in Laos, and was actually designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. It sits 700 metres above sea level in between the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers.
A beautiful heritage town, Luang Prabang is dedicated to tourism, where you can find everything from Royal Palaces and over 33 temples, to quaint shop-houses, cute cafes and sprawling markets. It also remains the main centre for Buddhist learning in Laos, and is the perfect place to learn more about spirituality and the Buddhist way of life.
Whilst one of the most popular cities in Laos, Luang Prabang is still quite quiet for such a popular a tourist destination, offering visitors a glimpse into the laid back vibe that the locals like to live by. It was definitely one of the most relaxing places we visited in Southeast Asia, where you can completely unwind and go with the flow.
1. All Of The Happy Locals
The people of Laos are some of the loveliest and most friendly we found in all of Southeast Asia. They are not pushy and yelling at you from the their tuk tuks or market stalls, they are always smiling, welcoming and happy to help if you need it.
The locals also understand that tourism and visitors are super important to their businesses and their town. So as long as you’re acting appropriately around cultural and religious sites and showing respect to the locals and the monks, they’re very happy to see you and have you in their town.
2. The Weather Is Always Sunny
While Laos experiences a tropical climate and a wet and dry season, the weather is still nice and warm all year round. The best time to visit Laos is between November and March during the dry season when the weather is cooler but still definitely nice and warm!
January is the most popular time of year to visit, both because of the optimal weather, but also the festival season. Make sure you check out the local festivals and what’s going on around Laos during January so you don’t miss out on any of the fun.
3. Historical Culture & Tradition Continues In Modern Day
All across Laos you will find locals that are deeply entrenched in their culture and traditions. At many of the temples that we visited we saw couples taking beautiful wedding photos in their traditional dress, as well as many locals taking part in cultural and religious ceremonies across the town.
As we mentioned in our previous post – Luang Prabang’s Traditional Alms Giving Ceremony – Tak Bat, in villages all across Laos the local Buddhist monks take part in an alms giving ceremony, where they walk around the village barefoot at dawn, accepting gifts and donations of food from the local laypeople. This beautiful ceremony is wonderful to experience in real life, and is one of the last places in Southeast Asia where this tradition still takes places each day.
For an even more authentic look at a different type of local culture, you can even take a day trip out to spend some time with some of the ethnic tribes living in their villages. Depending on each individual tribe, some are welcoming and open to visitors and some prefer their privacy and do not want to be disturbed. If you are interested in visiting some of these ethnic villages, you can take a day tour into the mountains from Luang Prabang to some of the local tribes.
4. There’s So Much Natural Beauty
All across Laos there are stunning natural attractions that you can experience.
Around Luang Prabang you can find some really beautiful waterfalls, including Kuang Si and Tad Sea falls. These waterfalls have levels of cascading water, falling into azure pools of water where you can swim and escape from the heat and humidity of the midday sun.
Out near the boarder of Thailand you can find the Gibbon Experience, where deep in the forest you can fly across canopies, surrounded by gibbons. If you stay out here, you can wake up some of the world’s highest treehouses, surrounded by the gibbons waking up for the day in the tree tops.
Laos is also a beautiful country full of mountains and beautiful rivers, and no matter where you visit you won’t be far away from some truly gob-smacking natural attractions.
5. It’s Kind Of Still Off The Beaten Track
While Laos is growing in popularity, it is definitely still off the beaten track compared to it’s more popular neighbours. Visiting Laos right now means you are still a little bit removed from the crazy tourist trails of Bali and Thailand.
Although Laos is by no means untraveled, it’s still a nice break from the crazy crowds, with everyone moving to at a much slower pace here.
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