Landlocked between Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and China, Laos does not get much attention from travelers and therein lies its immense charm if you’re of the opinion the fewer the people, the better the travel experience then Laos, one of Asia’s least populated and visited, is the place for you. The country’s isolation, for reasons of war and politics, has preserved an older, slower, and more traditional way of life: Old Asia, Asia without the crowds.
“Luang Prabang a little city of 50,000 people which neither teems with excitement nor seethes with intrigue. Life flows slowly here, like the muddy Mekong. The people are gentle and unassuming. Two lazy rivers happen upon each other in their wanderings through Luang Prabang — the Nam Khan and the swirling brown Mekong.”
This is the perfect antidote to the frenzied pace of Bangkok or New York or London, for that matter. The landscapes and tranquility of northern Laos are impossibly beautiful but it is in the sublime Luang Prabang one discovers the last Shangri-la of Indochina. Without exaggeration, Luang Prabang remains one of the most delightful places in Asia.Luang Prabang is the splendid old capital, featuring a cluster of shimmering royal temples, palace, and administrative buildings, remnants of the faded grandeur of the Lao monarchy.
Small and compact, Luang Prabang is a jewel, encircled by peaks and camouflaged by palm trees and dense tropical foliage. From a distance, only golden-spired stupas can be seen-flashes of gold among the greenery. Situated on a tongue of land at a strategic junction of the Mekong and Khan Rivers. At the heart of Luang Prabang is Mount Phousi, a high rocky outcrop with forested slopes, dotted with sacred shrines and stupas. The serene town remains one of the most well-preserved in Asia bypassed in the rapid development that has seized the rest of the region. Delicious cuisine, authentic markets, and gentle residents round out one of Southeast Asia’s most remarkable places.
The unhurried pace and picturesque setting in a lush mountain valley on the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers is the perfect place to spend a few days between the busier, more developed countries bordering it. With a network of 19 National Biodiversity Conservation Areas (NBCAs) in Laos, there are a multitude of trekking, bird watching, kayaking, or boating activities. Let us plan a few remarkable days away from the crowds, discovering the natural beauty, wildlife, and charm of northern Laos. For the more adventurous, our overland trip from Hanoi to Vientiane through the rarely traveled northeast region of Laos, with optional cycling, is one of the last great adventures in Southeast Asia.