Laos‏ award at last recognises hidden gem

10th Jun 2013

Laos has been voted the World's Best Tourist Destination 2013 by the European Council on Tourism and Trade (ECTT).

Now this isolated south-east Asian gem's next move is to try and find enough money to spread news of the award through the tourism industry - and there's plenty to brag about, not least its cultural sites.

Its crowning glory is Pha That Luang, a large gold-covered Buddhist dome-shaped shrine in Vientiane.

If its caves you're after, then Vieng and Pak Ou are unique in their own ways.

The Vieng Xai caves are an extensive network of underground caverns that during the Vietnam War served as a hidden city, home to 23,000 people and containing a hospital, military barracks, shops and even a theatre.

The Pak Ou caves are famous for hundreds of miniature Buddha sculptures lining the wall shelves.

Luang Prabang is the country's most popular attraction among tourists enjoying a city break here. Monks collect rice at dawn as they walk through streets lined with golden-roofed temples and crumbling French colonial buildings.

The recent award was presented to honour the Laos government's promotion of free and fair tourism, safety of tourists, access to sites of historical and cultural significance, investment in the preservation of historical sites and creating tourism benefits for grassroots communities.

Arrivals to Laos leapt 22% to 3,330,072 in 2012.

Laos is a mountainous landlocked country bordered by Burma and China to the north-west, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, and Thailand to the west.

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