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Laos

GENERAL INFORMATION

Laos is the best destination of Southeast Asia where you can notice varied traditions and villages. Its landscape is amazing to view and the rice fields and tea leaves garden that cover the mountains look luscious. There are many trekking options for the travelers in Laos. Adventurous tours can be performed in underground river caves, jungle ziplines or karsts climbing. Many wild and exotic species such as gibbons and elephants are visible which can be icing on cake for the nature enthusiasts. There are many dining options for food lovers and also spa and yoga sessions can be attained for rejuvenation. Laos is fantastic for people who love to roam and relax.

Some of the finest experiences one can get in Laos are detailed below and these destinations will fulfill all desires of your most awaited trip:

 

Luang Prabang: This place gives you spiritual nourishment and boosts your imagination. It provides a highly comfortable travel throughout and calms you all the way. There is UNESCO protected location which is sacred confluence of the Nam Khan River and the Mekong River. Some of the fantastic chefs in Southeast Asia have moved in to Luang Prabang that allows visitors to experience high class delicacy. Manu affordable boutique hotels can be found and tremendous development can be seen in the last 20 years in this place. This place has so much to offer including aquamarine waterfalls, meandering mountain bike trails, trekking activity, kayaking trips, river cruises and excellent natural beauty. The place is blanketed with green mountains providing an exquisite view. Some of the top sights in Luang Prabang include Wat Xieng Thong (best known monastery), UXO Laos Information Centre, TAEC (3 room museum of hill tribe culture), Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham (sumptuous Buddhist monastery), Phu Si (100 m tall crowned by 24 m gilded stupa called the Chomsi, Phu Si is a top choice hill), Green Jungle Park, Wat Xieng Mouane (A Buddhist temple painted with Gold) and Royal Palace (historical museum).

Vang-Vieng: As there are many mountains and rivers surrounding Vang-Vieng, so one has to be very careful while travelling by scooter, motorcycle, etc. and also while trekking or tubing. All places are stunning to observe, however one has to explore everything with care and caution. This place is lovely to spend few days as it consists of many adventurous places. Its beauty lies in the tapestry of vivid green paddy grounds and serene cliffs. There are well maintained and classy accommodation options for travelers in Vang Vieng. Top sights in Vang Vieng include Tham Nam (cluster of caves), Tham Hoi, Tham Jang, Wat Si Vieng Song (Buddhist temple), Tham Phu Kham, Tham Loup, Tham Sang and Wat Si Suman.

Si Phan Don: It is the land of Laos which is known as Lotus-eaters. Down the Si Phan Don, the Mekong River bulges to a breadth of 14 km. Top sights in Si Phan Don include Khon Phapheng falls, Khon pa Soi falls, Don Khong history museum, Wat Jom Thong, Ban Hang Khon viewpoint, Tat Somphamit, Tham Phu Khiaw andBan Hin Siew Tai Palm Sugar trees.

Vientiane: It is famous for historic old quarter, glittering temples, lunging naga statues which is also famous as river serpent, Buddhist monks, etc. It used to comprise of old French villas and now restaurants and small hotels are present in their places. It is a great place for travelers and food lovers as it consists of everything from street markets, gastronomic places, bakeries, lounging places to silk shops. The top sights for visitors in Vientiane are Wat Si Saket, Cope Visitor Center, Xieng Khuan, Kaysone Phomivan Memorial, Kaysone Phomvihane museum, Pha That Luang, Patuxai and Wat Si Muang. Wat Si Saket was built between 1819 and 1824 by Chao Anou and it is known as the oldest Vientiane’s Buddhist temple. Cope visitor centre is a cultural center and COPE stands for Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise. It is the main source of walking aids, artificial limbs and wheelchairs in Laos. Xieng Khuan is a museum consisting of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures. Kaysone Phomvihane museum consists of Kaysone's half-empty bottles of scotch, white running shoes, tacky souvenirs from the Eastern bloc, notepads and original Kelvinator air-conditioners. In Laos, Pha That Luang is the most important national monument which is known as a symbol of Buddhist religion and Lao sovereignty. It is about 4km northeast of the city centre. Patuxai is known as victory gate and is a monument built in 1960s after the war in memory of people who died. You need to climb to the summit to get the panoramic view.

Phongsali: It is reached through a mountainous road on a ridgetop plateau. It is usually wrapped in mist and panoramic views. It has a refreshing climate varying from pleasant warm to little cold in few hours. It has a great surrounding for trekking and it has a good population of ethnic people. Top sights in Phongsali are Phu Fa, Museum of Tribes, Yunnanese Shophouses, Wat Keo and Chinese temple. Phu fa is more than 400 stone steps high above the ground level and you can get a beautiful view of stupa. Museum of tribes lets you understand ethnic people of Phongsali province following a wealth of cultural information on animism and historical background with photos and costumes. Yunnanese shophouses is one storey wooden house that comprise of Chinese decorated interiors and other items giving you a feeling of a China resident. Wat Keo is a modest Buddhist temple famous for architecture and petang playing monks. The Chinese temple in Phongsali is decorated with red roofs and myriad green and blue dragons. It presents a pretty view over a pond surrounded by old Yunnan houses.
Vieng Xai Caves: These are important war shelter cave complexes which are set in beautiful gardens and karst scenery. Historical information can be taken via guide. Some attractions nearby this cave are Tham Nok Ann, Nang Nok Bar and the main market.

Huay Xai: It lets you have gibbon experience. Comprising of 40m high tree houses and wild animals like tigers, clouded leopards, black crested gibbons and black bears, it gives you an interesting tour. One can get three touring options such as two day express or three day classic and waterfall along with trekking. One can get good savories along through guides who are helpful and vigilant. The nearby noteworthy places are Daauw restaurant, terrasse restaurant Bar How, riverside restaurant, etc.

Tham Kong Lor: It is situated in 1580 sq km of Phu Hin Bun NPA, a 7.5 km river cave that runs belneath Limestone Mountain. A memorable Gothic ghost ride through boat can be experienced here. You will get full excitement and fun through the tour and you will be dresses up in life jackets and torch. It is thrilling and scary.

Wat Phu Champasak: It is the monument of southern Laos. It stretches 1400m up the slopes of Phu Phasak. It has been declared as World heritage site in 2001 by Unesco. Some of the top sights are Wat Phu world heritage area, Wat Phu Exhibition hall, Hong Nang Sida, Uo Moung andl Muang Kao. Hong Nang Sida is an archaeological site which is an easy 2km walk to the south of Wat Phu –built in the middle of the 11th century and might have been the central shrine for a  second ancient city. Muang kao begins from the place where Wat Phu turns away from Mekong. It is known as Champasak;s ancient city and was founded in mid 5th century by King Devanika. A guidance will let you explore the city properly.

River Trips of Northern Laos: It is so much famous for trekking, cycling, ziplining, family homestay and kayaking. A well maintained ecotourism will melt your heart at this place. Twist and turns at roads through mountain ranges makes your heart beat faster. A rural life can be observed through river trips which also allow you to discover the scenery of the place. Top sights in Northern Laos include Vieng XAi Caves, Nam Ha NPA, UXO information center, Jar site 1, Xieng khouang UXO survivors’ information center, Hintang archaeological park, Kao rao caves and Nam Tien.

Now let us throw some light on the tradition and language followed by Laos people:

Tradition: Hidsipsong is a Buddhist ceremony which is performed every year to express love and kindness to God and people. Baci is a multi purpose ceremony conducted to deliver best wishes on important occasions like born of new babies, marriages, departures, friend meeting, etc. Here, ninety percent of people eat sticky rice. Besides this, main food are koy, ping and lap. Laos houses are mainly built on stilt and have free space underneath the roofs with wind plates on each side. People costumes depend on age and gender. Women mostly are found wearing silk skirts, blouses and scarves while attending important ceremonies. They make coiled hairstyles. Men of Laos wear salong and large pants to ceremonies. Paekoma is used to clean body. Rice cultivation is the main occupation along with anmal husbandry, raising silk worms and handicrafts. Other activities include fishery, trading and plant cultivation. People of Laos are friendly and respectful with least quarrels. They love literature and arts plus poetry.

Language: Laos language is commonly spoken here and others used languages are French, Chinese, English, Thai and Vietnamese. Buddhism is the religion followed here since 18th century.

Population: With population about 4. Million in Laos, people share a rich ethnic diversity comprising different groups such as khmu, hmong, akha, lu, etc. Dialects and traditional dresses vary according to the customs.

Least developed and most mysterious of the three former French Indochinese states is Laos. Aruinous sequence of colonial domination, internecine conflict and dogmatic socialism finally brought the country to its knees in the 1970s, and almost ten per cent of the population is left. After two decades of isolation from the outside world, this landlocked, sparsely populated country is filled with peace, stabilizing its political and economic structures and admitting foreign visitors - albeit in limited numbers due to a general lack of infrastructure. Lack of foreign influence offers travelers an unparalleled glimpse of traditional south-east Asian life. From the fertile lowlands of the Mekong river valley to the rugged annamite highlands, travelers who have made it to laos tend to agree that this country is the highlight of south-east asia.

Some of the places of Northern Laos are Luang Namtha, Phonslay, Bokeo, Oudomxay, Xieng Khouang, Houaphanh, Sayabouly and Luang Prabang. Some of the central Laos places are Xaysomboun, Vientiane Capital, Bolikhamxay, Khammouane and Savannakhet. Some of the places in Southern Laos are Salavanh, Skong, Champasak and Attapeu.

Starting from January, some events and festivals celebrated in Laos are as follows: International new year’s day on 1st Jan, Wat Phou festival, Elehant festival and trade firs, Sikhottabong festival and Boun Khao Chi festival in the month of February. International women’s day, Vientiane international half marathon, Boun Khoun Khao or Khoun Lan (Rice ceremony) and Boun Phavet in the month of March. Boun Pi Mai (Laos New year celebration) in the month of April, International labour’s day, Boun Visakha boucha, Boun Bang Fai (Rocket festival) in the month of May, International Children’s day and National tree planting day and Mekong Tourism Forum in the month of June, Asalahaboucha day and Boun Khao Phansa Festival in the month of July, Boun Khao Padabdin and Baat Racing festival in the month of August. Boun Khao Salak Ancestor festival and mini marathon on occasion of world tourism day and international year of sustainable tourism for development in the month of September, Naga rocket, Boun k Phansa, Lhai Heau Fai, National teachers day, Luang Prabang half marathon, Laos handicraft festival and Boat racing festival in the month of October. That Luang Festival and trade fair in Vientaine capital in the month of November and Lao National day, That Inghang festival, Luang Prabang film festival and Hmong New year in the month of December. All of these celebrations are conducted in Laos which are enjoyable and signifies tradition of Laos lifestyle. Every year, the timings of the festivals are calculated according to the Buddhist lunar calendar.