Laos

A country of astounding physical beauty, kind-hearted people and compelling cultural heritage, Laos, a Buddhist nation, is one of the most undeveloped and least-visited countries in the world, making it quite appealing to the adventurous traveller. A former French colony like Cambodia and Vietnam, it remains much more isolated, in part because of its landlocked location between Thailand, Burma (Myanmar), China, Vietnam and Cambodia. Luang Prabang,

The majestic crown jewel of Laos is Luang Prabang on the banks of the Mekong River. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and former capital of the Kingdom of Laos, it features gorgeous palaces and temples. Founded in the 7th century as the capital of the Kingdom it is now a communist state and gateway to this little-visited country.

Walking and cycling are the norm in this ancient city and on any given day you will meet monks making the rounds for their daily rice, French Indochina expats, Luang Prabang Provincial Secondary School of Fine Arts art students and others who call this peaceful place home.

Vientiane

The relaxed capital of Laos has the luxurious Settha Palace Hotel, a lovely, turn-of the-century French colonial architectural gem, with immaculate landscaped gardens and custom-designed furniture, ideally located near the city centre. Explore the city on foot, visiting the exotic Talat Sao market and various interesting shops, including Sandra Yuck’s Caruso gallery of ebony wooden creations, and Carol Cassidy’s Lao Textiles. Meet wood and stone-carving experts and have a hands-on demonstration, or stop by the Vientiane Silk Museum recognized for its fine collection. Visit the striking golden That Luang Stupa, Vientiane’s most revered temple and Laos’ national monument, attended daily by numerous local pilgrims.

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