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In Laos you'll discover a virginal landscape, wats alive with orange robed monks, peaceful riverside villages and friendly people. Tranquil, green and completely refreshing, Laos is one of Asia's best-kept secrets. Those in the know compare Laos to Thailand 30 years ago;much of its land is still untainted and it has a relaxed, friendly vibe. Nowhere is this unhurried atmosphere more apparent than in the former royal capital, Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage city displaying ancient temples alive with monks as well as beautiful colonial architecture. Vientiane is perhaps Southeast Asia's calmest capital, despite bearing evidence of a tumultuous history. Here, spend the morning viewing temples and the afternoon sipping a cool Beerlao before watching the sunset over the Mekong. Laos' varied landscapes include the flat plains of the remote Bolovens Plateau, the Khone Phapheng Falls, the mysterious Plain of Jars and the dense forests of the north. The country is growing in popularity yet offers rugged natural landscapes and some of the most unspoilt areas to be found in modern Asia. One of the best ways to experience rural Laos is by heading south towards the border with Cambodia where you can enjoy a cruise on the Mekong River, gliding by ancient temples, lush countryside and traditional riverside villages. If you're lucky, you might even see the elusive and captivating Ayeyarwady river dolphins.
Laos with A&K
Forget what the authorities tell you, goes the joke. Laos PDR doesn't stand for the People's Democratic Republic. Instead, so laid-back is this lush landlocked nation, PDR actually means Please Don't Rush.
Laos will undoubtedly give you one the more relaxed and tranquil holidays of your life. But that doesn't mean the hard-working A&K staff take it easy. Far from it. As part of a long-established, highly experienced and brilliantly connected regional team, they're on call 24 hours a day, pulling out the stops to perfect your journey.
Such service wouldn't surprise Alex and her party. After their guide promised an impromptu Baci ceremony - the celebratory ritual of tying strings around someone's wrist - they found themselves watching a lovingly rehearsed performance involving over half a village.
But this isn't just a welcoming country. As an Abercrombie & Kent luxury Laos holiday reveals, it's also beautiful. Startlingly beautiful. From the south's Bolaven Plateau with its elaborate thread of rivers, and the thundering Phapheng Falls, to the centre's haunting limestone karsts, to the north's mysterious Plain of Jars, fecund mountains, hill tribes and floating hotels, it's a photographer's dream.
We'll take you to the capital Vientiane, where the temples are good but the coffee and patisserie - a tasty legacy of French rule - and sunset Beerlao, are even better. And, perhaps most memorable of all, we'll show you Luang Prabang. The delicate morsel of a city, pinched between the chopsticks of the Mekong and Khan Rivers, has temples, night markets and the dawn ritual of saffron-robed monks shuffling through tranquil streets to collect alms.
Laos PDR. Please don't rush, but please do come.
Best time to be there
The cooler part of the dry season, November to February is when Laos is at its best, avoiding the torrential rains of the summer months, and the sweltering heat of April and May.
Luang Prabang or Vientiane via Bangkok
13 hours via Bangkok
GMT + 7 hours
Issued on arrival
Yellow Fever certificate if arriving from an endemic area
Our experts can tailor-make the perfect holiday to suit your individual requirements, however, if you need inspiration or a starting point, below are some of our suggested trips and experiences:
Below are some of our suggested places to stay:
Annie, Brandon, Debbie, Margaret, Vicky Hamlin, Vicky Smith and Rachel - are experts in designing travel experiences across the region to suit your personal needs, interests and budget. Their intimate knowledge of every hotel and resort featured in our Orient, India, Australasia and Indian Ocean portfolio, together with our own network of offices throughout these areas, allows us to offer unique in-depth knowledge, unparalleled insider access and the VIP service for which Abercrombie & Kent is renowned.
Read about our lastest experiences in our Travel Blog pages.
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In Laos, the guide added trips to the morning market and an opportunity to attend a shaman ceremony she heard about when we were in the village. I've seen some events, but I'll never forget that. I gather it's pretty rare to see it - the guide had only seen it once before.
- AF, London