Laos Travel Guide
Basic Facts of Laos
Official Name: Lao People's Democratic Republic
Location: the eastern part of Indochinese peninsula, Southeast Asia.
Area: 91,429 mi² (236,800 km²)
Population: 6.91 million
Time Zone: UTC+7
Administrative Division: 17 provinces and 1 prefecture
Religions and Beliefs: Theravada Buddhism
As the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, the geography of the country features dramatic hills and lush forests. Laos is known as "a country of elephant" due to a large quantity of elephants existing in the country. The beautiful natural scenery and the unique architectural style make many travelers fascinated.
Owing to the fresh air, coupled with open visions in both cities and outskirts, tourists can see lightning run through the sky and earth at the same time in the distant plains before raining, as well as the beautiful rainbows after raining.
For people who travel independently or join in escorted tours to Laos, the most important thing is to enjoy the leisure and slow pace of life here, as well as a variety of outdoor water activities close to nature. The Buddhist temples and French-style architectures in Luang Prabang are worth a visit. The slow boats on the Mekong River and the river tubing in Vang Vieng should not be missed either.
Top Destinations & Attractions:
Vientiane: Patuxay, Haw Pha Kaeo/Haw Pha Kaew
Luang Prabang: Wat Xieng Thong, Kuang Si Waterfall, Phu Si Hill, Royal Palace Museum
Vang Vieng: Blue Lagoon/Tham Pou Kham, Nam Song
Champasak: Wat Phu, Pakse, Bolaven Plateau
Best Time to Visit Laos
November to March - the dry season is the best time to go to Laos, when the climate is most suitable for travel. The country is dominated by a tropical monsoon climate. In dry season, the average temperature reaches 27℃ (81℉). In May to October, the rainy season, the average temperature is about 24℃ (77℉). The plentiful rainfalls cause inconvenience in transportation.
There is no railway in Laos. People in the country mainly travel by road, water and air. The airlines in the country provide various international and domestic routes; highway, water transportation and taxi are also available. The highways carry 80% of passengers and cargo with a total mileage of about 29,200 mi (47,000 km).
Buddhist Monks in Laos
Most Lao believe in Theravada Buddhism, so temples and monks are highly respected in the country. Walking on the road, strangers often greet each other by saying "Saibaidii" (hello). Lao people usually do things very slowly, so travelers can experience the slow pace of life here. As a consequence of their slow life style, Lao people don't take much notice of time. They may often be late in appointment, travelers should prepare for it.
The history of Laos dates back to Kingdom of Lan Xang, the first unified kingdom established in 1353. In the early 18th century the kingdom split into three kingdoms. Since 1779, the country was successively conquered and became colonies or dependencies of Siam, Vietnam, and France. In October, 1945, it declared independence. In the next year, France invaded the country again. After decades of international war and civil war, the country announced the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of the Lao People's Democratic Republic on December 2nd, 1975.
The long history left abundant historical sites and relics, including Luang Prabang and Wat Phu, which were listed as UNESCO World Heritage.
80% of the area of Laos is mountains and plateaus, and most of them are covered by forests. With the terrain higher in the north and lower in the south, the country is divided into lowlands, midlands and upper high lands according to altitude. Phou Bia, the highest mountain in the country, is 9,252ft (2,820 m) above sea level. Mekong River, the largest river in the country, flows 1,200 mi (1,900 km) through the western area.