Laos is south-east Asia's secret jewel

23rd Jul 2013

Whisper it quietly, but Laos is south-east Asia's best-kept secret destination.

Alexandre Tsuk, vice-president of the imminent Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Laos Chapter says: "This is a wonderful place for someone who wants to experience Asia from its most natural side. Trees, waterfalls, hills and mountains, relatively small cities have left Laos well preserved."

In fact, Laos is everything a tourist needs for perfect trekking holidays.

Rock climbing, cyclo-tourism, architecture and heritage trails, river tourism and Laotian cuisine all feature among the republic's holidaying delights.

No wonder that the number of international visitors jumped 91% from 1,740,000 in 2008 to 3,330,000 in 2012.

Laos also boasts two UNESCO-accredited World Heritage Sites in the provinces of Luang Prabang and Champasak.

Luang Prabang is an incredible example of the fusion of traditional architecture and Lao urban structures with those built by the European colonial elite in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Its unique, well-preserved townscape marks a key stage in the fusion of these two distinct cultural traditions.

Champasak's cultural sites, including the Vat Phou Temple complex, date back well over 1,000 years.

The complex was built to express the Hindu vision of the relationship between nature and humanity, employing a line from mountain top to river bank to form a geometric pattern of temples, shrines and waterworks extending over 10 kilometres (more than 6.2 miles).

Two planned cities on the banks of the Mekong River also form part of the site, in addition to the Phou Kao mountain.

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