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.
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)
“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
“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