Explore the Breathtaking Scenery and Rich Culture of this Fascinating Landlocked Country on a Bespoke Secret Journey in Laos
As one of Southeast Asia’s best kept secrets, Laos is a destination that deserves to be top of an Asia bound traveller’s must visit list, whether as part of a wider trip to Southeast Asia or taking the time to discover its fascinating history and culture as a journey in its own right. This unspoilt gem remains a land of pristine landscapes with friendly locals, age-old traditions, and is one of the best places in Asia to catch a glimpse of life from simpler times.
Laos might not have the tropical beaches and islands or metropolises of its neighbouring countries, but this landlocked nation possesses unrivalled charms that mesmerize its visitors in so many ways.
Whether you like to spend leisurely days in contemplation wandering the UNESCO World Heritage protected streets of old-town Luang Prabang, the same streets where at first light of every day saffron robed monks from the towns 34 ancient Buddhist temples silently and gracefully collect alms from the townspeople. Or visiting the Kuang Si waterfall where pools the colour of a clear blue sky beckon. Luang Prabang has so many secrets to share with the visitor. Take in the stunning sight of a panorama of Luang Prabang from the summit of sacred Mount Phousi, a perfect spot to enjoy the sunset before wandering the night markets. Dine on fabulous local cuisine at Manda de Laos and creative Michelin starred cuisine at Paste at the Apsara. Wander the old-town’s food market too, a panoply of fresh produce and cooked delights, simply grazing your way through the narrow walkways exciting your tastebuds on the taste of the terroir.
Luang Prabang pleases in every sense, gently and slowly, as life is in this sleepy, ancient town. Rich aromas from a myriad of dishes being prepared in the streets and lanes of the town, where every time is meal time, the scents of the forest at Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden, the hypnotic sound of monks chanting as the sun sets over the golden spires of the town, the timeless, gentle, almost singsong chatter of Laotian and hilltribe sellers in the markets as your gaze wanders the kaleidoscope of colours and textures of their produce from forest and field, the stunning natural scenery that surrounds the town with the mighty Mekong river lazily snaking past, and the architecture of these ancient streets tells the story of the town in brick and stucco with French colonial period buildings decaying elegantly against traditional Laotian homes and ancient stucco and gold Buddhist temples – Luang Prabang is a feast for the senses.
Further afield, hilltribe life and culture can be experienced with a stay at the perfectly placed Muang La Lodge. Set on a bend in the river within the forested mountains of northern Laos, a hot spring bubbling up from the riverbed, the lodge gives access to the timeless lifestyles and beliefs of the local hilltribes that live and farm these lands. Head south to explore archeological wonders, most likely alone, on a vast plain littered with thousands of ancient carved stone jars. Or to Vat Phou Temple, an impressive ruin of a Khmer Hindu Temple that dates back well over 1,000 years. And a cruise on the Mekong is not to be missed, north or south, the wonders never cease, and so many secrets await you to discover them.
Secret Retreats’ tailor-made Laos journeys are the perfect way to ensure you see the very best of this beautiful and fascinating country.
A Laos holiday has never been easier or more complete than on a curated journey by Secret Retreats. Each itinerary is carefully curated by our teams of experts on the ground in Laos, local people keen to share the secrets of their homeland and the unique lifestyles within. Thanks to their in-depth knowledge of the region, all you have to do is choose the Laos Luxury Travel Journey that will best tick all of your boxes for fascinating, rewarding and responsible travel in Asia.
Discover The Old Capital of Laos: Luang Prabang
Just like the sparkling mosaics that cover many of its Temples, Luang Prabang offers a glittering variety of experiences that share local Lao history, great cuisine, stunning natural scenery and spiritual nourishment with its visitors. Located at the confluence of the Mekong River and the Nam Khan the peninsula is a UNESCO protected gem of Laotian heritage with its 34 gilded ancient Buddhist temples, French colonial period villas and traditional Laotian homes all encircled by forest, hazy green hills and waterfalls. Even with the many visitors that make it to northern Laos, this ancient northern town remains a sleepy and friendly town, as if time has long since stood still here.
Refreshing Countryside Walks in Northern Laos
The epitome of slow travel, this itinerary in Northern Laos is a wonderful discovery of one of the most unspoilt regions of Southeast Asia. The northern hills and mountains of Laos are home to more than 60 ethnic groups, hundreds of temples, pristine forests and ancient landscapes. A region where the many festivals that are celebrated by the different tribal groups throughout the year add a fascinating splash of cultural colour to those lucky enough to witness them. This itinerary will take you on guided treks through breath-taking natural scenery well off the beaten path, sharing with you sincere interactions with local people in walks to villages and farms while staying at a truly delightful sustainable riverside retreat that is also blessed with a natural hot spring. This Northern Laos countryside holiday itinerary is as refreshing and rewarding as they come.
The People of Heaven
The perfect extension to a stay in Luang Prabang, the People of Heaven shares with you the cultures and lifestyles of the many ethnic groups that live deep in the forests and mountains Northern Laos. Visiting isolated villages of Hmong and Khamu hilltribes you will discover lifestyles so very different to your own amongst these friendly, ancient rural communities.
Discover Vientiane and Vang Vieng
In this journey, we visit the sleepy capital city of Laos, Vientiane, with its deliciously relaxing atmosphere so different from the majority of Asia’s capitals. Staying in the pick of the city’s boutique hotels, enjoy guided gentle strolls along the city’s streets, visits to the city’s most important temples and landmarks and a riverside walk as we share with you the tales of this city. After a couple of days in the city, time to head out to the countryside with a drive to Vang Vieng. Famed for its otherworldly karst-limestone scenery, this rural town lies on the banks of the Nam Song River. Discovered by backpackers a couple of decades ago, Vang Vieng features a vibrant bar and restaurant scene but it is also home to some delightful riverside boutique hotels which we include in this itinerary. Kayaking and tubing on the Nam Song River is maybe the most popular activity amongst the backpackers that visit Vang Vieng, but we will share with you the beauty of the surrounding nature of this part of Laos.
Explore Champasak and the Bolaven Plateau
A truly classic exploration of Southern Laos, this wonderful itinerary starts at the Bolaven Plateau, home to magical waterfalls and pristine forest and jungle. To Champasak, where we will share with you the secrets of this old colonial town and the surrounding region. Staying in a traditional Laos boutique hotel that is set on an island within the Mekong River you are perfectly placed for exploring this beautiful part of Southern Laos. By vehicle, by boat, by bicycle, this slow journey along the banks of the Mekong tells the story of life on the river, from the natural wonders of the Mekong’s 4,000 islands to the lifestyles of the people who call this great river of Asia, the ‘Mother of Waters’.
A visit to Laos also pairs beautifully with a visit to neighbouring Thailand, Cambodia or Vietnam. The Secret Retreats’ team of concierges and travel experts are ready to share their expertise and insider local knowledge of the region with you to create tailor-made holidays that will Unveil the Essence of Asia just for you.