It is not a commonly known fact that Laos suffered extensive bombing during the Vietnam War. Despite the deaths of many innocent people during those days the Laotians remain welcoming to strangers and it is a real pleasure to spend time away from cities and popular tourist attractions to enjoy being involved in everyday village life. This is a real experience that parents taking their children on Laos family tours will appreciate. There will be plenty to provoke their children to think and enquire. This is a real education during a holiday and the lesson really will be learnt. Experienced tour companies will happily put together Laos family vacation itineraries to suit the age of the children. They will usually balance the major landmarks of the Country with its natural beauty while the best chance to relax is at Si Phan Don, 400 islands in the Mekong River.
Laos is a land-locked country but that is no reason to dismiss it for Laos family travel; families can visit a beach any time, less so a country like Laos. Those who fly into Laos are likely to arrive in its capital, Vientiane which deserves some time during Laos family tours before tourists head out to explore the country. It is a mountainous country with many jagged peaks, plenty of forests, plateaux and plains. It is a relatively new tourist destination and hence its infrastructure is still developing. Patience will be rewarded for the delights it offers.
The national symbol of the country, the Great Stupa, or That Luang, is in the Capital. While it has the external appearance of a fortress there are two pagodas once you enter with the 45 metre high main stupa covered in gold leaf. Wat Sisaket has a huge number of Buddhas and a unique feature, rows of seated Buddhas.
Buddha Park is nearby and has over 200 religious items, perhaps the most impressive the 40 metre high reclining Buddha. The Park is relatively new, mid-20th Century but it is nevertheless impressive.
This town used to be merely a place to break the journey between Vientiane and Luang Prabang. It has earned a place in Laos family tours because it offers a range of activities on the river or through the hills and forests. There are caves to explore and older children may enjoy mountain biking.
The ancient capital where the Mekong meets the Nam Khan River is a UNESCO World Heritage site because of the host of temples and orange robed monks. It is essential that everyone on holiday in Laos, and the other countries of Indochina show due respect to religious sites and personnel; dressing appropriately is important.
Luang Prabang still has many traditional wooden houses intermingled by French colonial architecture and of course the temples. The Royal Palace is now a museum while Laos family tours are also likely to include a very old monastery, Xieng Toung.
It is worth spending a little time on the Mekong River and perhaps a trip to the Pak Ou Caves just to the north of Luang Prabang is the way to do it? There are two caves, one above the other overlooking the River. Within the caves there are a huge number of Buddhist statues that have been put there over the years. None are thrown away because that is regarded as bad luck.
If you head south from Luang Prabang there is a most impressive waterfall, Kuang Si and certainly here is another opportunity to explore the natural environment although there are tourist facilities at the Falls themselves.
Pakse in the south will be included in Laos family travel because it is the gateway to many of the highlights of not only the south but the whole country itself:
• With Luang Prabang so busy an alternative chance to see the monks’ alms ceremony is at a temple in Pakse.
• The Bolaven Plateau lying at around 1,000 metres is the main coffee growing region in Laos; Laos colonial masters, the French are great lovers of coffee and introduced the crop here.
• Tad Fane lays claim to be the most impressive waterfall in the whole of South East Asia.
• Wat Phou is similar to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. It has a stunning location, looking down from on high over the Mekong River.
The North of Laos is the best place to see Laos as it has always been. It is a remote mountainous region with hill tribes living as they have for generations. The tribes tend the land to feed themselves and visitors on Laos family vacations are certain to enjoy the experience of being in these natural surroundings.
The Plain of Jars
US bombing cause a great deal of damage to this plain. There are a huge number of jars, in different groupings, across the plain. The discovery of human remains have reinforced the view that the groupings are ancient burial sites. Unfortunately there is still a significant number of unexploded ordnance so it is important to be on an organised tour so as not to stray from paths that have been passed as safe.
Si Phan Don
There are 400 small islands in the Mekong in the south of Laos. This is a great place to finish Laos family tours, a chance to relax, discuss the wonderful days touring Laos and perhaps to decide on the highlights of the trip?
Laos is a growing tourist destination. It offers so much and as yet has few of the negative comments that are laid at the door of the very popular destinations; too much development. The Country is poor and certainly in need of tourism revenue and by welcoming Laos family travel it is offering itself to different generations who will all spread the word. Memories reinforced by the quality photographs that digital photography can almost guarantee last for years. In the years to come many will return, perhaps even children with their own children, who knows? Laos will not disappoint them.