Laos

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LAOS, hotel rooms,Lying in the southeast of Asia, Laos is an independent mountainous landlocked country. It was also called the French Iindochina earlier as it was part of the Indochinese Union and also a French Protectorate. It was briefly under Japanese control during WW2 but gained freedom from it in 1945. In 1950, cheap hotel stay ,the French re-asserted their control over Laos in 1950 and it was only in 1954 that it gained full independence as a constitutional monarchy. In 1975, after a long drawn out war, the communist party seized power bringing the 6 century old monarchy to an end. Laos is one of the very few communist countries left in the world and up until 1988 tourists were not allowed access to the country. The capital of Laos, Vientiane, is its largest city as well as chief port and lies on the Mekong River, bordering Thailand,holiday rental,Its strategic position on one of the main waterways of Southeast Asia has helped it to become a center for government, commerce, and religion for over a millennium,cheap car hire,

GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE

Laos is bordered by five countries: to the northwest by Myanmar and China, to the east by Vietnam, to the south by Cambodia and to the south by Thailand. It has a total area of 236, 800 sq. km, which consists chiefly of steep, heavily forested mountains with some plains and plateaus. It has many rivers criss-crossing the country and un-spoilt national parks are ideal for activities such as trekking, kayaking and caving,insurance,The country has a tropical monsoon type of climate, with only two seasons- a dry season between Oct and Apr, and Rainy Season between May and Sept. The country is at its hottest during the wet season so it would be best to visit it during its dry spell, between October and April.

ECONOMY AND CURRENCYm,travel insurance,

The monetary unit of Laos is Kip. Even today a large majority of Lao still engage in subsistence agriculture. Industry is limited to small-scale manufacturing of consumer products, though clothing and textile products have become a significant export. The government opened the economy to foreign investment in 1988, making the economy is heavily dependent on investment and trade with its neighbors, Thailand, Vietnam, and, especially in the north, China,top hotel deals,

PEOPLE, CULTURE AND LANGUAGES

According to the latest estimate the population of the country is 6,834,942. Over 70% of the Laos population is of ethnic Lao origin. Other than that there are more than a hundred indigenous ethnic groups and subgroups in Laos, which have been classified into three broad categories- the Lao Lum, the Lao Thoeng, and the Lao Sung. Theravada Buddhism is the principal religion of the country, along with the common animism which is practiced among the mountain tribes, coexists peacefully with spirit worship,hotel bookings,

In almost every aspect of the culture and life in Laos, you can see a marked influence of Theravada Buddhism- from language to the temple and in art, literature, performing arts, the effect of the religion of the country is very evident. However, the pre-Buddhist culture of the country too still has its traces in such areas as music, dance, weaving, and embroidery. 

Rice forms not only a major part of the diet of the country but also has cultural and religious significance and there are many traditions and rituals associated with rice production in different environments, and among many ethnic groups. 

The official language Lao is written with an alphabet derived from a southern Indian script,hotel rooms,

HOW TO REACH

All the flights are mainly via Bangkok, China, Vietnam or Cambodia and there are no direct flights from the USA or Europe. The country’s national airline is Lao Airlines,motel rooms,

The chief airport, Vientiane (VTE) (Wattay) is 3km (2 miles) and approximately 20 minutes away from the city. Taxis are available for transport. From the Thai border to Luang Prabang, it is possible to travel to travel to Laos by a speedboat, slow boat or by a deluxe one-day boat. Whereas the speedboat takes only six hours to reach, the slow boat takes about two days and usually involves an overnight stay in Pak Beng.From Thailand, it is possible to enter Laos by road, over the Friendship Bridge. Also from several places in Vietnam it is possible to enter Laos and Laos can also be entered from China, from Mengla in Yunnan province to Luang Namtha,last minute beds,

TRAVEL DESTINATIONS AND ACTIVITIES

At the Kuang Si Waterfalls, situated 30km (19 miles) from Luang Prabang, it possible for a visitor to go for a refreshing swim or and bathe in the two hot springs, Bo Noi and Bo Yai, some 52km (32 miles) north of Phonsavan.

At the Bokeo Nature Reserve near Houayxai, there is a unique experience to be savored- a stay in a tree house! And if you want to have a thrilling adventure, travel through the forest canopy on zip wires looking for Black Gibbons. 

The hills of Laos resent ample opportunities for trekking and there a number of guest houses, which offer hiking trips starting from Muang Xing, a small town on the river plains in the mountainous Luang Namtha province in the far northwest.An idyllic way to experience the country would be to cruise long the Mekong River from Pakse on a converted teak barge and also be sure to spend two nights on board, visiting Wat Phu, temples and traditional villages,backpacker rooms,

Head to the Boloven Plateau, which is home to many ethnic minority groups, and where one can enjoy elephant riding and trekking.Float along the Nam Song River in a rubber tube in Vang Vien and witness the stunning landscape and while tubing if you feel the need for a drink, the enterprising locals will tow you in to riverside bars for ‘Beer Lao’.

At Vientiane, one of Asia's most relaxed and quiet capital cities, see the old French colonial architecture and numerous Buddhist Wats and stupas. Visit Luang Prabang, Laos' cultural and religious, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1995; it boasts of 33 large temple complexes and around 1,000 resident monks! Near Phonsavan there are hundreds of stone jars, some weighing up to 6 tones, are scattered over the landscape, so that the place is now called ‘Place of Jars’. According to legend were used to ferment rice wine in the sixth century to celebrate a victory in battle.  Visit Wat Xieng Thong, one of Laos' most impressive temples, which is decorated with colored glass and gold.

The village of Ban Phanom, near Luang Prabang is famous for its weavings and offers the opportunity to purchase bargain-priced silk and embroideries. For shopping enthusiasts Vientiane and Luang Prabang are the ideal places to visit; silk, cotton fabrics, wood carvings, pottery, silver jewelry and handmade shirts are some of the things to buy,hotel bookings,

NIGHTLIFE

A typical nightlife in Laos involves a Beer Lao, a stunning sunset firefly display and an early night. Vientiane has several discos that tend to have live Lao bands and other than that most large hotels have their own nightclubs,travel,

CUISINE

The cuisine of Laos is happy blend of Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese flavor and presentation both.  Lao food is very spicy but this kick is often tempered for the western palate.

Vientiane has some good French restaurants, catering mainly for the diplomatic community and some places providing intercontinental cuisine are rapidly coming up at Luang Prabang. 

Sample some national delicacies when in the country: Sticky rice, Pho, a white rice noodle soup, usually served with beef and/or pork although vegetarian versions are available, Laap, a minced meat, fish or vegetables tossed in lime juice, garlic, onions, powdered rice and chilies, accompanied by sticky rice, Tam maal hung, a Lao-style papaya salad and Khai phaan, a weed from the Mekong River.

GETTING AROUND

Domestic air services from Vientiane to Houayxai, Luang Namtha, Xieng Khouang, Luang Prabang and Oudomxai in the north and Pakse and Savannakhet in the south are run by Laos Airlines. 

Water You have a choice between slow boats, speed boats and jet-boat trips between some parts of the country but services are not always regular. There are only a few main roads that are suitable for all-weather or night driving, although many of the roads have been paved in recent years, including the main highway from the Thai border at Savannakhet to the Vietnamese border.Bus services link all the major towns and cities of the country. Car hire is generally not recommended due to low driving standards,top deals,

 

* Note: Room prices change constantly. You should check the latest availability as in many cases the room price can be even lower than the listed price on the LastBeds website.