Laos - Simply Beautiful
If Thailand is the land of smiles then Laos is the land of happiness, the people of Laos, much like the people of Thailand, always seem to be smiling. The two countries are separated only by the border of The Mekong River, and the native language only varies slightly. While Thailand has blossomed into a booming tourist destination, Laos remains slightly less changed by tourism, still off the beaten path for most mainstream tourists. Laos is rich in history and culture, with signs of former French colonialism on display all over the capital city of Vientiane. In the center of the city there is a replica of the famous Arc de Triomphe, also known as the Patuxay, or "Victory Gate".
The capital city also boasts several ancient temples and historical sites scattered not far from the center of town. Located right on the Mekong, most of the attractions for tourists are located right at the river, with several romantic riverside cafes and restaurants, some serving French cuisine that is a reminder of the influence of former French occupation. Vientiane is not a large city considering it the nation's capital, it looks more like a small town than a city.
The former capital of the Kingdom of Laos, Luang Prabang is said to be one of the most beautiful cities in Southeast Asia. Luang Prabang is also recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The city is home to several very important Buddhist temples and historical artifacts. During ancient times Luang Prabang was a major player in Southeast Asia, rivaling the empires of the Khmer and the Siamese. The legendary Emerald Buddha that is now on display at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, had formerly been kept in Luang Prabang, until the Thai General Chao Phraya Chakri returned it to Siam in 1779.
One of the most popular attractions in Laos in recent years is the small town of Vang Vien, located between Vientiane and Luang Prabang. This small town located on the river is very popular with backpacker and adventure seeking tourists that come to enjoy the river. The main attraction at the river is the tubing, floating down the river on an inner tube drinking beer and relaxing while taking in the amazing scenery. There are also a variety of rope swings that are located high in the trees, swinging out over the river, a little less relaxing and more for the thrill seeking adrenaline junkies.
The infamous Golden Triangle is well known to many as the source of most of the world's heroin for the past century. This area on the Mekong River is where Laos, Thailand and Burma all share a border that is divided by the river. Tourists have been traveling to this area since the end of the Vietnam War, to catch a glimpse of this historically significant spot in Asia. These days there are several resorts and accommodation for tourists in this area, however mostly on the Thai side of the border. The people of Laos are very gracious hosts, always welcoming tourists and showing them plenty of hospitality. The amazing history and culture of the country makes for an interesting and pleasant experience for those who come to visit. Laos is still a small quiet country, peaceful and less intense than Thailand, Cambodia or Vietnam. If you have never had the chance to see the natural beauty of this amazing Southeast Asian country, then you will want to see it soon, because as anything that is great .. it won't last forever!
Copyright © 2012 TravelMozo