What is Laos? A country? Where is it?
Few people have heard of this small country in Southeast Asia, wedged between Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. Well, do not hesitate to come and discover it! Still unknown by tourists, it is one of the most authentic countries in this area of the world. Laos has preserved its Buddhist culture and those of the many ethnic groups living in its territory. It offers huge wilderness with beautiful scenery and great playgrounds for hiking or motorcycle trails.
If you are looking for encountering and authenticity ... Laos is for you. Through this article, the OFF ROAD LAOS ADVENTURES team explains you why you must travel to Laos !
Laos, a country well preserved with old-fashioned ethnic groups
Laos opened late to tourism in the 1990s. It is therefore less developed than than its neighboring countries, in terms of reception facilities. This is the moment to enjoy! Due to its recent opening, economic growth has been concentrated in the cities, while more than half of the population lives in the countryside. Thus isolated from the rest of the world, the tribes have preserved their ancestral ways of living by fishing, breeding, hunting and gathering. Visiting ethnic villages and meeting their inhabitants is a journey through time. Sleeping in a village or spend a night homestay is always an unforgettable experience. Obviously, the stay is not that comfortable but the change of scenery and unusual meetings are well worth 2 or 3 nights on a mattress too hard and the lack of a real bathroom.
A daily Buddhism, and beautiful temples
In Laos, temples are everywhere. You will often meet monks wearing their saffron orange outfit, in the street or near the pagodas. This is especially the case in Luang Prabang, high place for Buddhism in Southeast Asia. Small charming town from which emerges a beautiful spiritual atmosphere maintained by more than 40 pagodas and Buddhist rituals punctuating the daily Laotian life. For example, it is possible to attend the ritual of Tak Bat. It is a Buddhist offering ceremony for monks that takes place every morning in every town and village in the country. At dawn, around 5:45, the monks leave their temple and go out into the street. They make long processions to collect their only meal of the day. Donors, mostly women in traditional dress, are kneeling on the sidewalk. These long rows of monks are a curiosity that deserves absolutely to get up so early !
Festivals are also held all year round according to the Buddhist calendar. In mid-April, the Buddhist New Year, also known as the Water Festival, is celebrated for a week. Cities are turning into a giant water battle. In October, the end of Lent, is celebrated by all the monks and believers coming out of 3 months of deprivation. On this occasion, the whole city is illuminated by candles and lanterns, the show is incredible.
Awesome sceneries and heaven-like places
Do you like beautiful landscapes with 360-degree panoramas? Do you dream of diving in a cascade of turquoise water in the jungle? Do you want to play explorers in an untouched tropical nature? Then go to Laos !
This country stretches over 1500km long and is divided into 3 large areas (north, center and south). It is crossed by a multitude of rivers and by the mythical river Mekong.
The most northerly regions on the Chinese border, such as Phongsaly, LuangNamtha or Nongkhiaw, offer dense jungle-covered mountain landscapes as well as intact and protected primary forests. It is perfect to dive in the middle of tropical nature during a hike. A whole diversity of ethnic groups with very different cultures lives there. You will meet few tribes during your trekking. In the center are the provinces of Vientiane, Vang Vieng and Thakhek. The rice paddies are dotted with kharstic formations. These mountains with sharp peaks give a very special atmosphere. We do not see that kind of mountains everywhere !
In the south of the country, the Mekong and its tributaries draw the landscape. Especially on the border with Cambodia, in the "Si Phan Don" area of 4000 islands. At the heart of this multitude of islets, the gigantic Mekong waterfalls are definitely worth a visit.
Depending on whether you are traveling to Laos in the dry or green season, you will enjoy very different landscapes. When the rivers and the Mekong are low, they reveal beaches of white sand and many small islands where Laotians grow vegetables. While in the green season, the waterfalls are powerful, the vegetation is dense and exuberant, and the rice fields are tall and of an intense green.
Exceptionnal activites : Cruise, trekking, motorbike, encountering the elephants …
Our agency ORLA Tours offers a wide variety of activities suitable for families as well as experts. During your holidays in Laos, hiking enthusiasts can walk happily through the jungle and rice paddies of the mountains of northern Laos (several levels of difficulty are possible depending on the routes), travelers looking for authenticity, will go on discovering the way of life of ethnic groups, totally different from ours.
Thousands of kilometers of country trails make Laos the perfect place for a motorcycle raid. The entire north of the country is full of single tracks of rice fields and dirt roads crossing the mountains. In addition to that, the many rivers, are as many crossings for off-road riding lovers and endure riders.
There are several elephant camps in Laos, built to rescue pachyderms for "retreat" and for the purpose of protecting the species. You will meet these amazing animals. Some elephant sanctuaries even have hospitals and nurseries.
The extreme south of Laos and its idyllic setting meanwhile, will be perfect for travelers seeking relaxation and rest. The 4000 Islands region is the perfect place to spend a few days watching the Mekong River flowing, taking a pirogue ride looking for freshwater dolphins, taking a nap in a hammock clinging to coconut trees, strolling the beaches in complete peace...
A peaceful way of living
In Laos, you will dive into a soft nonchalance. This country has an atmosphere at the opposite with the stressful daily life of some modern cities. Laotian way of life can be summed up in an unique sentence that we hear regularly, the famous "Bo Pen Niang". It literally means "it does not matter". Laotians take life as it comes and do not worry for things that may never happen. This nonchalance implies being patient! It is sometimes difficult for us who live in societies where everything goes very fast. You will see by yourselves that you will get acclimated very quickly to this quiet rhythm. Moreover, holidays are made to slow down and to take advantage of the time that passes !
This is the time to come and enjoy this preserved jewel of Southeast Asia before mass tourism gets developed. OFF ROAD LAOS ADVENTURES offers trekking, hiking, motorbike tours, Buddhist culture, or just relaxing while watching the Mekong river flowing ... Laos is the ideal country for a relaxing or adventurous unique holidays. So do not hesitate anymore, and contact us.
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