Originally a low-key French protectorate too mountainous for plantations, Laos is one of the few places left where you can experience old Indochina. Luang Prabang, on the banks of the mighty Mekong River, is one of the best preserved cities in South East Asia and has been designated a World Heritage Site. To the south, Vientiane, the capital city, retains its French colonial charm. The That Luang Stupa in Vientiane, built in 1566 by King Setthathirath, echoes the curving lines of an elongated lotus and is considered to be the national symbol.
Outside the cities, another highlight for visitors to this tranquil country are the towering limestone caves of Pak Ou, filled with thousands of gold-lacquered Buddhist statues. Laos is relaxed, quietly contemplative and still visited by only relatively few foreigners.
Itineraries relating to Indochina
Trip Reports for Indochina
Fiona’s travel tips
FOR THE ACTIVE: Kayaking in Halong Bay.
MY FAVOURITE PLACE: Luang Prabang — sitting cross legged on the pavement at dawn watching the silent procession of orange-robed monks coming down the street towards me during the giving of alms.
BEST TIME TO GO : November to March
Cambodia: 14½ hours (indirect)
Laos: 15 hours (indirect)
Vietnam: 16 hours (indirect)
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“The Laos to Thailand trip up the Mekong River was a wonderful experience on the Sabaidee Pandaw Boat. Pre departure I had many questions about flights etc. all of which were answered and arrangements made for me. Your service was very efficient. Booking forms , flight tickets etc all very clear and efficient. The Sabaidee Pandaw was a beautiful boat. It has extremely comfortable cabins and the crew went out of their way to make sure we were well looked after and the culinary experience was very good. An evening spent on a sandbank for a barbecue and music when the local children joined in trying new dance moves by the crew and the lighting of fire lanterns was very memorable.” Catherine Thomas, Laos Mekong Expedition
“All your information was detailed and clear. The guides were excellent, especially in Siem Reap. Quite the best holiday we have ever had!”
Mr and Mrs Nigel Paton and family, Vietnam and Cambodia
“We had a brilliant hugely enjoyable trip and liked the Pandaw Mekong very much.”
Euan and Su Bowater, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand
“With the sole exception of the road to Ha Long Bay, we loved our three weeks in Vietnam travelling from Hanoi to Saigon, via the old imperial capital of Hue, the charming 17th-century trading post of Hoi An, the beaches of Nha Trang, the kitsch-veneered, faded elegance of Dalat (an old French hill station, where Graham tried the splendid golf course) and a couple of delightful days boating and cycling along the Mekong Delta. We didn’t want to leave Saigon. Particularly when we found it was snowing in London. But here we are, from 35C to freezing in 12 hours.”
Sue & Graham Bell, Vietnam
“The Vietnam trip was excellent and we thoroughly enjoyed it – memorable for all the right reasons. In particular the hotels were well-chosen and uniformly of a very high standard, and each had its own individual character. Our local guides were also excellent – friendly, efficient and very informative.”
Andrew and Suzanne Mounstephen, Vietnam
“The trip was awesome. I think the best I can say for our group is that we did not want it to end. We are still talking about how wonderful it was.”
Mrs Kate Huey and family, Indochina
“A fascinating historical and cultural insight and a wonderful trip all round.”
Mr and Mrs Stephen Scott-Smith, Cambodia/Vietnam
“All made very easy for us which is what we wanted… Excellent choice of hotels and flights”.
Mr and Mrs Walter Johnson, Pandaw River Cruise, Vietnam/Cambodia