...Laos has become known as Asia's star country. Amongst those who have traveled throughout the region, Laos is known as a genuinely fascinating, friendly and above all exciting destination. Its reputation precedes it - touch down in Bangkok and you'll already start to hear the acclaim.

..It is a country where a foreigner is still welcomed and often showered with hospitality, where people have time for things like talking to people because their lives are still governed by tradition. It is a country whose startling natural beauty remains largely intact. The pace of modernisation remains slow and as a result a sense of history is still evident at every turn. It is nothing less than fascinating to come to a country where people's lives, experience and priorities are far removed from your own.

Travel is sometimes adventurous in this country, particularly if you want to venture off the beaten track, but the rewards for those who venture out there are too numerous to list. Firstly and best of all are the Lao people, the vast majority of whom remain kind, gentle, generous and best of all fun-loving people. The bad vibes, resentment, foreigner-fatigue and desire to do nothing but rip you off is largely absent in Laos. Flash a few smiles around and see how many you get back - almost all of them. Attempt a few words of Lao and see the results - the kind of response you get can't be faked. Travel through the moutain ranges and see just how beautiful this country is, wander the markets and marvel at the textiles, blow your head off with spicy papaya salad and savour the sheer excitement of a country where something amazing is likely to happen every single day of your trip.

If you've seen much of the world you'll probably agree that there is often some correlation between how interesting a country is to visit and the degree to which the country is genuinely different from 'home', wherever that may be, and also from it neighbouring countries. Laos remains relatively undiscovered and therefore startlingly different in a world growing increasingly similar. Laos only opened to tourism in 1992 and prior to this was effectively shut off from the West. Only 8 years have passed since then..............

If Thailand is'Amazing Thailand', then Laos is by rights 'Laos - wow'. But don't take our word for it. Read the testimonials below to see what people make of the country.

Louise Roberts, 24, UK - "Everybody told me how good it would be, but I didn't appreciate just how good. Absolutely the best part of my trip round the world,"


You can't bungee, ski, paraglide, horse ride or go to the beach in Laos. You can't eat MacDonalds, drink cherry coke or travel in a tourist minibus all over the country. You can't fly business class or pick up information from the tourist office. FANTASTIC! Here's what you can do:

Enjoy the fact that the country is an attraction by itself without having to worry too much about seeing all the 'sites'. All you have to do to enjoy the country is be there
Seek all the thrills you could ever require in speedboats, helicopters, buses and trucks
See a country in many ways little changed from the way it was many years ago
Sit on a bus sharing fried grasshoppers with your fellow passengers
Visit Luang Prabang, the most intact historic city in South-East Asia
Enjoy the high life or the low life as your desires or budget dictate
Travel for 3 days in a bus, then on foot through the jungle for two more, and still enjoy cheap beer (although it may not always be cold)
Try to explain to people back home where it is, and that it should not be pronounced 'lay-os'
Enjoy the lack of people (lowest population density in Asia) and their lack of interest in hassling you


The most enchanting thing about Laos is that it is an intensely atmospheric country. Every journey oozes adventure every town and village comes laden with tropical aesthetics. The country hasn't become like everywhere else yet: there's no danger of being able to imagine you were back home!