Poetically dubbed the “land of a million elephants”, the charming country of Laos is situated in the centre of the Indochina Peninsula. Bordered by China to the north, Myanmar to the northwest, Vietnam to the east and Cambodia to the south, the sandwich of Laos embodies everything that makes its neighboring countries great.
Friendly locals, stunning countryside and a warm tropical weather system are just a few of the reasons why Laos has become popular with travelers. Add in the fact that it’s also as cheap, or at least similarly priced, as its neighboring countries and you can appreciate why backpackers flock there in their thousands every year. Laos also has a rich culture based around influences such as Buddhism and its unique relationship with its environment.
Buddhism plays an integral role in the lives of Laos’ citizens and evidence of this can be seen around the country in everything from the small spirit houses that sit outside businesses and residences to the ornately decorated temples in the cities. The people of Laos are devoted Buddhists and this translates into their everyday behavior through a distinct lack of aggressiveness and a level of calm rarely witnessed in the people of western nations. Tourists are attracted by the both the mystique of Buddhist traditions and friendly and passive demeanor exhibited by the followers of it.
Laos is a country with a developing tourist infrastructure and as such it may not meet the expectations of high-class tourists, indeed some destinations are simply not designed to appeal to them. Backpackers however will find the country well geared to meet their needs with prices to match. Luang Prabang is perhaps the exception to the rule as it is now classed as a World Heritage site and is home to some expensive hotels and more classy eating establishments.
Laos is one of few countries in the world that are cheap. If you come from the western world, everything will be just peanuts. The first expensive thing could be Visa which is about 40$ for 15 days.
Laos is a good place to explore at any time, but it really comes alive during its festivals, especially the New Year and Rocket Festival. It’s a good idea to time your trip to coincide with one of these festivals as the streets are filled with singing and dancing and people put on their best clothes and biggest smiles.