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Laso Temple, Luang Prabang, Laos

Laos

Blissful temples and saffron-robed monks symbolise the vibe running through this Far East delight. Take in the laid back nature of Laos with a trip along the Mekong river or some textile shopping in the mountains.

Although economically left behind by its neighbours following the Vietnam war, the people of Laos have rebuilt their lives and it has emerged as one of the most delightful countries in the Far East.

Xieng Khuan, Laos
Xieng Khuan, Laos

What to expect on your Laos holiday

When the British departed Laos on independence they left behind an efficient, if somewhat bureaucratic, administrative system. When the French departed they left behind good coffee and delicious bread. It is slightly incongruous and unworldly sitting in a little cafe in Luang Prabang, gazing out across the Mekong as the morning mist rises off the water while you eat a delicious croissant. You have to try it!

Laos is a land of graceful temples and saffron-robed monks. Even the capital Vientiane has more of the feel of a rural town than a bustling metropolis. The infrastructure and accommodation in more remote areas remain limited but there you will find minority peoples, each with their own traditions, culture and intricate textiles for which the country is famous. A surreal cross between Sleeping Beauty and the King and I, Luang Prabang epitomises the easy-going, laid back atmosphere of Laos.

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Explore Laos

  • Luang Prabang
  • Thailand
  • Plain of Jars
  • Vientiane
  • Mekong River
  • Siem Reap

Experiences

A selection of activities and experiences you could consider including in your holiday to Laos.

Cruise the Mekong

Travel the Mekong from the comfort of a private traditional river boat.

Luang Prabang

Journey by river to the UNESCO city of Luang Prabang in Laos – a peaceful two-day Mekong sojourn.

Mekong River Communities

Experience the local way of life on the Mekong.

Search for Irrawaddy Dolphins

Search the Mekong River for the elusive Irrawaddy Dolphins.

Wat Phu Temple

Explore the Khmer Hindu temple of Wat Phu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Local Cuisine

Sample wonderful, local food, or learn to make some traditional Laotian dishes yourself.

Waterfall Dip

Escape from the city for a day and trek on foot or by horseback to Tad Sae waterfalls for a refreshing dip.

Visit Local Tribes

Walk into the hills and visit some of the minority tribes, selling beautiful, handcrafted textiles.

River Kayaking

Journey past limestone karst peaks to Vang Vieng before jumping in a kayak to explore the Nam Song River.

Plain of Jars

Uncover the mystery of the giant stone jars scattered around Phonsavan.

Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Paul Craven

Being from a family with Army connections I can from an early age remember travelling. From camping in Europe and then later being sent to boarding school when we lived in Germany at the age of eight, complete with shorts, long socks, a cap and my suitcase. In appearance not too dissimilar to the children evacuated to the countryside during the blitz. Later, my father’s postings took us to Nepal where we had to transit Delhi and Kathmandu where we were sometimes stranded for days and Hong Kong from where I travelled in 1983 through China for two months.
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Deborah Brock-Doyle

My first journey for Steppes was in 1999 when I set off to explore Thailand to gather those little details that constitute Steppes Travel’s trademark knowledge. I have since been lucky enough to travel extensively in Southeast Asia, China, the Middle East and India. A few special memories include being joined at dinner by an otter in Laos, proudly being shown an illicit picture of the Dalai Lama in Tibet and diving with manta rays on Christmas day in Indonesia. I’m pretty sure I always leave a country wishing I had done more, seen more, learned more ….. but I also always hope to return …
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Clare Higginson

It was my passion for languages that first encouraged me to leave the UK behind and grab my rucksack. Since then, it’s been a mixture of intriguing cultures, jaw-dropping landscapes and the wonder of seeing animals in their natural habitat that sees me continuously extending my travel wish list. I also seek adventure; exploring the deep blue or hiking a peak often winning favour. Although it’s my time horse herding in Mongolia that I regularly want to relive.
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  • 01285 601 784

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A well planned holiday with great advice. As usual we have been very happy with Paul Craven at Steppes. The guides were very knowledgeable and vehicles and drivers excellent.

Laos

Frequently asked questions about Laos

What is the Foreign Office advice on travelling to Laos?

Travelling with Steppes Travel is a wonderful chance to experience a stunning array of cultures, landscapes, ecosystems and activities. At the heart of this experience are the differences between our respective ways of life. You should understand that this means that standards of health and safety will not be the same as in the UK and may often be lower. Please refer to our full health and safety information on our website under Traveller’s Code.

What souvenirs can I find?

When visiting markets, such as the daily Night Market in Luang Prabang, keep an eye open for the local textiles and weavings with patterns unique to the country. Mulberry silk and mulberry paper are also a famous produce of the country, with many different objects made from them.

Can I photograph the monks?

You can photograph the monks, although do so in an unobtrusive way. Respect them as the locals do and do not photograph or interrupt them when they are praying. A long lens is a great way to capture them close up without being intrusive.

Is Laos safe to travel around?

Laos, like a lot of its neighbours, has a very low crime rate. However, always be careful with your belongings, especially when out in crowded areas and leave your valuables at home.

Can I use my mobile phone in Laos?

Roaming agreements exist with a few international mobile phone companies with coverage good in the cities, less so in more rural areas. Sim cards are available to purchase and can be topped up throughout your trip.

What is the international dialling code for Laos?

856

What is the time zone in Laos?

Laos is seven hours ahead of GMT.

How long are the flights to Laos from the UK?

There are no direct flights to Vientiane, the capital city, or Luang Prabang. Flights via Bangkok to either Vientiane or Luang Prabang take around 13 hours.

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