Laos: The Charming Asian Jewel
Discount flights to major cities in the Far East
By TTM on 20 December 2010 in Featured Articles
The increase in the number of discount flights to major cities in the Far East, such as Bangkok, has opened up some of the lesser-explored Asian countries to the delights of tourism. Countries that were previously inaccessible for the majority of visitors have now opened their borders. One such nation currently embracing its new role as a hidden gem of the Orient is Laos.
The country lacks the infrastructure to benefit fully from the wealth of resources it has within its borders, yet tourism is gaining a foothold. Traversing the nation can be slow at times, yet you can still find car hire outlets in the major cities that will take you along the meandering, bumpy roads to any one of a number of sites that will utterly astound you.
If you're not confident about driving in a foreign country, it's possible to hire a driver who can ferry you around to your chosen destinations.
Indeed, for those considering one of a number of Laos holidays available on the market, there is an enormous variety of attractions on offer for those who seek something a little different from their travelling experiences.
The capital city is Vientiane, which translates as ‘city of sandalwood’ and not, as often mistakenly believed, ‘city of the moon’. Vientiane sits abreast the famous Mekong River and as such, the river forms the lifeblood of the city’s community. From sights such as the incredibly colourful and powerful Buddha Park to the Lao National Museum, the city has plenty to charm the visitor, who will often be surprised at the gentler pace of life, especially considering you are in a national capital.
br>Heading out of the capital city, that easier pace of living continues. Laos is not a country in which you can expect western-style immediacy. The people of Laos do things in their own time and the key to any visit is to tune your expectations to that of the locals. Doing so is a good thing, as you can then truly appreciate the beauty and charm of this unspoilt country.
North of Vientiane is the monastic settlement of Luang Prabang, home to many historic monasteries and 32 temples of outstanding beauty. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, such is the importance of its religious buildings and colonial architecture, and many tourists feel witnessing the hundreds of Buddhist monks moving about their historic temples is among the most enchanting sights in all of Asia.
While some may perceive Laos’ lack of infrastructure as a negative, the truth is that it has actually turned into a huge positive for the country. Due to the lack of roads, development and intensive building, much of Laos retains that rustic charm and natural beauty which so many developments seek to take advantage of and yet then ruin by building upon the land.
As such, Laos offers unparalleled natural resources for the visitor. You can become part of a village community and trek through the Laos countryside using a local as a guide. Thrill-seekers can indulge their hobbies of white-water rafting, kayaking, or mountain biking and climbing, against the rugged backdrop of Laos’ forested and mountainous regions. Or, you can experience the unspoilt beauty of a timeless region by heading to places like the Phu Khao Khuay Npa nature reserve, which contains a host of waterfalls and a resident herd of elephants.
Yet, there is so much more to discover, from the Pak Ou Caves to the Kuang Si Falls and the mysterious Plain of Jars, Laos is truly a destination that the seasoned traveller should experience once in their lifetime.
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