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The land of a thousand elephants opens to the western tourists.


Laos is a country in the Southeast Asia whose capital is Vientane and whose nearest neighbors are Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia and China. The country is mostly mountainous and has no direct access to the sea. Laos ethnic people are known for their sense of hospitality, kindness and simplicity. They are a little more of 6000000 inhabitants for about 236000 km². The Mekong flows through the country from north to south, forms part of the border with Thailand and is an important area of communication in Lao. Through its multi-ethnic origins, the country is rich with a multitude of dialects grouped into four linguistic family. Education is an important vector for Lao, where learning a second language is imposed. Russian, French or German are rarely used to the benefit of English. The main religious communities coexist in harmony: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, animism. The agriculture practiced is for the self-consumption of the citizens. In addition to agriculture, the main sources of income of the country are the hydropower industry and the exploitation of its natural resources in coal mines like zinc or copper. The growth is also based on cross-border trade and a stock market quotations opened to Vientane in 2011, demonstrating the dynamism of the Laotian economy. And foreign investments are mainly dedicated to the tourism sector.

lao03Its topography consists of high plateau, forest and mountain to the tropical climate make it a paradise for the hikers. Tourism in Laos is growing since the early 90s, visitors come mainly from the other Southeast Asian nearest countries but the cities of Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng also attracts Western tourists. The city of Savannkhet in the western part of the country is highly visited for its former French colonial area along the Mekong River, and grows commercially thanks to its proximity with Thailand. Tourism in Laos is growing strongly on the sustainable, equity and solidarity level, with the presence of numerous associations. Which helps people or to the protection of biodiversity, for example by saving the elephant or assist children in remote villages to learn reading. Cruises on the Mekong are also very popular with the visit of site classified to the Unesco World Heritage list, falls, navigating the river delta and  crossing of the 4000 Islands region, Irrawaddi dolphins,

The country has a rich ancient tradition that dates back to before the Christian era, for example with the riddle of the Plains of Jars which is not yet fully elucidated. From the fifth century AD the influence of Khmer kingdoms will be felt and they will  introduce Buddhism. The country also will know a French colonial period.

Lao is thus to be visited before the mass tourism seizes it, to explore its Buddhist culture, its colonial architecture, its ancient temples, its landscapes, its cuisine and its history. This combination recently earned Lao an award of the European Council of Trade and Tourism as the best world tourist destination.

Olivier Bulto


Hmongs in traditional suits climbing on one of the jars.



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