Laos is one of earth’s least developed countries, has one of the lowest population densities in Asia, and is one of the last Communist countries still existing. All of this could be viewed in a positive or negative light, depending on how rosey one’s glasses are.
Over half of Laos is untouched wilderness, lush jungle forests where panthers slink through the undergrowth. Eco tourists can spend the night in a tree house, while black cheeked gibbons, formerly believed extinct, cavort in the trees below. Boats traverse the 7.5 km waterway through Konglor cave, and in the cave at Tham Pa Fa one treks past 229 bronze Buddhas, discovered in 2004. The artisans of Laos create a range of beautiful collectibles. In Ban Kiet Ngong Village one can ride an elephant, and take home a carved elephant statue. Ban Saphai Village is a weaving centre where one can acquire Lao textiles. Mountains surround the UNESCO World Heritage city of Luang Prabang, where the royal families of Laos resided for centuries. On the Mekong River, Laos’ capital city, Vientiane, reflects the calm of the Laos’ Buddhist majority. One can bike past temples, stop by the market to barter for souvenirs, then relax at one of the many beer gardens along the riverfront.