Laos is a fascinating country with vibrant landscapes, natural waterfalls, hazy green mountains, and an abundance of delicacies to enjoy. It is a landlocked country in the north central mainland of Southeast Asia. The capital of Laos is Vientiane located near the Mekong River in the northern part of the country.
The country is surrounded by forested mountains, plateaus, and lowland plains, culminating in a diverse population held together largely by agriculture, especially rice cultivation.
Must-See Attractions in Laos
Despite being roughly 1.4 times smaller than Malaysia, Laos offers quite a few must-see tourist attractions. At the top of the list is the world-renowned Luang Prabang. Visitors who enjoy French colonial villas, ornate Buddhist temples, and vibrant night markets will most definitely enjoy Luang Prabang. To fully appreciate the Laotian culture and stunning scenery of Luang Prabang, one needs to spend a few days exploring.
Wat Xieng Thong, or also known as The Golden City Temple, is a well-known temple in Laos that was built between 1559 and 1560 by King Setthathirath.
The temple was built with the intention of hosting religious events and festivals. The gold stencilling of mythological creatures and deities painted over the dark red and black walls inside the temple perfectly depicts traditional Laotian art and culture. Various halls are decked with intricate gilded motifs carved into their walls and doors.
Si Phan Don is an archipelago by the Mekong River, occupied by traditional homes, shops, and restaurants. During the monsoon season, the river swells and submerges most of the islands in Si Phan Don. Three main islands (Don Khong, Don Det, and Don Khon) are the most popular.
The Vieng Xai Caves are located in the village of Vieng Xai, which is known for its beautiful scenery and unique history. During the Indochina War, the Vieng Xai Caves housed over 20,000 soldiers and civilians. Visitors can still find meeting rooms, houses, and theatres that were once built in the underground caves.
Unesco-protected Temple Town of Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang was designated as a world heritage site by Unesco in 1995. This temple town consists of traditional architectures as well as Lao urban structures that were built in the 19th and 20th centuries by the European colonial authorities. It is preserved for its unique combination of two distinct cultural traditions and artistic heritage.
The architecture style in Luang Prabang is one of eccentric mixed styles and materials. Most of its traditional structures are made of wood, with the exception of the temples which are made of stone.
Indulge in Laotian Delicacies
Khao Soi Luang Prabang is flat rice noodle with minced pork, fermented soy beans, and mixed with various herbs and spices. Locals typically eat Khao Soi Luang Prabang for breakfast, but it is perfectly fine to eat it at any time of day.
Khao Ji Pâté is Laos’ version of a breakfast baguette. It includes pickled papaya and three different kinds of pork: minced with soy beans and tomatoes, steamed pâté, and “fluffy” dried pork. Served with fried eggs and coriander to round out the dish, the Khao Ji Pâté is also suitable as a late-night snack.
Hua Moo Luang Prabang is a large sausage made of minced pork, lemongrass, ginger, chilli, shallots, garlic, and kaffir lime leaves. Locals would add a bit of sticky rice into the sausage. It is best cooked on the grill, seasoned with fish sauce and sugar, and then sliced to go with dips.
Tum Khao Poon is often bought in a bag. Often considered as Laos’ instant noodles, this delicacy is readily packed with vermicelli rice noodles, steamed pork, beansprouts, long beans, watercress, chopped morning glory, banana flowers, chilli sauce, and peanuts. To eat, simply add water and mix it with the condiments provided in the bag. The condiments are usually chicken stock, fish sauce, lime juice, and some chilli.
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