Long, slim boat docking on a river next to forested hills in Pakbeng, Laos

It's time to turn your ideas into a tailor-made trip to Laos

While its bigger, bolder neighbours draw the crowds with their roster of famous sites, we get the sense that Laos is content to be overlooked – secure in the knowledge that it’s a little slice of chilled-out, tropical heaven.

It doesn’t have the jungle-strangled temples of Cambodia. It doesn’t have the fascinating history of China. It doesn’t have the world-class cuisine of Vietnam, or the white sandy beaches of Thailand. Surrounded by famous neighbours, it has slipped under the tourist’s radar for decades. So why on Earth should you bother with Laos?

Only because it's one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Landlocked and mountainous, Laos's scenery is amazingly varied. It encompasses lush farmland, rustic river islands, thundering waterfalls, cloud forests, wide-open grassy plateaus, and magnificent karst scenery cut through with wide rivers. For outdoor adventuring, nowhere beats it.

But it’s not just the landscapes. It may sound counterintuitive, but we love Laos as much for what it doesn’t have as for what it does. It’s something about the totally unhurried pace of life – about the complete absence of stress or pushiness. Nothing is well-oiled or slick: it’s raw, rough, and totally, indescribably stunning. Like the lazy Mekong, life in Laos just takes its time, and it's quite happy to carry you along for the ride.

Our favourite routes

Laos itineraries featuring the places and experiences we love most

Our favourite guided tours and excursions

For us, travelling in Laos is all about getting outdoors – and there are as many different ways to do it as there are ways to skin a cat. We know, because we’ve been on night-time boat rides through the jungle, ziplined through the treetops, cycled around sleepy river islands and walked with elephants – all to bring you this amazing selection of adventures. We haven’t forgotten about the cultural stuff either, so you’ll find a few petanque games, barbecues and workshop visits too.

Cruising on the Upper Mekong

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The InsideAsia team in Bristol

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