Land-locked by Cambodia, China, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam, Laos covers an area roughly the size of Great Britain, much of which is dominated by mountains and rivers. For many years this charming destination remained untouched, isolated and over-shadowed by its neighbours – leaving Laos to its own devices.
Visit and you are transported back to the past to find a peaceful, laidback country, and a culture which, based on Buddhism, lends its people a delightful charm and friendliness. Highlights include romantic Luang Prabang, the riverside capital Vientiane, and the natural scenes of the south.
Click on your destination of interest
Flying time from London 12.75 hours
Official language(s) Lao, French
Time difference +7 GMT
Visa requirements Available on arrival for UK passport holders - bring one passport photo.
The Laos Experts
Our experts will be delighted to tailor a completely personalised itinerary to suit your interests, dates and budget.
The Plain of Jars in the north is an interesting sight; the landscape dotted with hundreds of mysterious and centuries-old stone jars. Archaeologists believe the jars were used about 2,000 years ago, but their origins and significance are still a mystery. Tools and ornaments were discovered in the area, left by a civilisation that has not yet been identified. Some believe these are traces of a lost Indo-Chinese people.
Drift along the mighty Mekong
The Mekong river stretches the entire length of Laos, meandering through Luang Prabang and Vientiane and forming the border between Thailand and Laos. It then wobbles its way back into the south of Laos, through Pakse, Champasak and then the 4,000 islands before leading into Cambodia. The route of the river means you can travel from Luang Prabang through untouched northern Laos into Thailand’s Golden Triangle; in the south through the 4,000 islands, or through rarely explored central Laos from Vientiane.
Offer alms in Luang Prabang
For a truly unique spiritual experience, wake early to offer alms to the saffron-robed monks of Luang Prabang. Watch as the monks walk serenely down the main street, and gracefully accept food in their bowls, one of their only possessions. The early morning mists add to the peaceful and respectful atmosphere of the experience.
Stay in Si Phan Don (4,000 Islands)
Relax in the picturesque 4,000 islands area, where you can cycle, take boat trips or enjoy countryside walks in an area where life has remained unchanged for centuries.
Visit Vat Phou
Explore the impressive ruins of Vat Phou, built by the Khmer people and similar in style to Angkor Wat but with far fewer tourists.
The latest from Compass - our online travel magazine