Laos includes the delightful town of Luang Prabang as well as the small pleasant capital of Vientiane. In Luang Prabang the streets are lined with old colonial French buildings, many of which have been converted into shops or restaurants. The cafe culture is also surprisingly sophisticated, with laid back places where you can relax while sipping on a cappuccino. The French influence is also visible in bustling markets where vendors sell freshly baked baguettes. The food here is some of the best in Asia.
One particular dish I had in Luang Prabang still stands out as delicious and unusual. The dish was a salad with peanuts, sprouts, herbs and other vegetables with a tamarind style dressing, making it slightly tangy and also crunchy. Quite delicious and quite unlike anything I have ever tasted before.
Laos is a small landlocked country bordered by Burma, China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. The legendary Mekong flows along the border between Laos and Thailand. If you're wondering where Laos is, this map might help.
I found that unlike some other more tourist intensive parts of Asia, Laos has a more relaxed pace. There is also a complete absence of the hard sell, bargaining is more gentle and carried out with good humor.
Laos also offers some beautiful wilderness areas and a diversity of colorful tribal people with different ethnic influences. Some of the village people came from as far away as Tibet, via the mountain paths and the Mekong before settling and raising a family.
Buddhism is the main religion in Laos and this is reflected in the country's many beautiful temples. Many boys will live as a Buddhist monk for a few years and receive an education from their monastery. One Buddhist ritual is the collection of offerings of food in the mornings from Buddhists in the village. The giving of an offering is thought to be a form of blessing to the giver.
In summary Laos offers one of the most authentic travel experiences in Asia.
To see the rest of the Laos Gallery, click on this link Laos Gallery, alternatively watch the slide show below or click on any image in the Slide Show and you will be taken to a larger version of that image.