When a site receives the status of ‘’World Heritage’’ from UNESCO it immediately results in it receiving more publicity and attention as well as generally an increased number of visitors wishing to see this special place. Throughout the whole of South East Asia there are less than 40 such sites, two of which are in Laos.
Those on holiday in Laos will soon discover that the Country is in need to protect special places and there are a number of conservation areas aimed at protecting the natural environment, flora and fauna. Laos tour packages recognise thiswith lots of tourists wishing tosee the history and culture as well as the untouched areas perfect for trekking and exploration. Within those Laos travel packages there are two attractions that cannot be omitted and they are the 2 UNESCO sites, the ancient town of Luang Prabang and the Vat Phou Temple Complex. It is hoped that a third, the Plain of Jars will gain recognition and this status in the years to come.
How to get there
Luang Prabang has flight connections with Chiang Mai and Bangkok in Thailand as well as Laos’ capital, Vientiane. Overland travel by bus is well organized if not especially quick especially in monsoon season. In addition the Mekong is very important for travel
Access to Vat Phou is via Champasak with has overland bus services and the Mekong River for visitors to use.
Best time to visit
Monsoon season in Laos starts in May and runs until the end of October. It means that the popular tourist times are once the rains finish. However those on Indochina travel packageswill need to think about the other countries on their itinerary. The seasons vary between countries so it will be difficult to avoid rains completely. The result is that tourists seeking a unique experience prepare for some rain and get on with it.
Luang Prabang is a very well preserved town in northern Laos, arguably as impressive as any in South East Asia. There are over 30 Buddhist temples as well as French colonial architecture and evidence of the influence of the Chinese. The setting is mountainous with forested slopes and the iconic Mekong River on its western boundary.
There is much to see; murals, wood carvings, pottery and traditional artwork. UNESCO recognized this in 1995 and its popularity is increasing by the year.
Vat Phou Temple Complex
The Vat Phou Temple Complex and the Champasak Landscape surrounding it are 500 km south of Vientiane on the banks of the Mekong River. The complex was built between the 7th and 12th Century and is an excellent example of Khmer architecture. The ancient city of Shestupura at its foot is thought to be one of the earliest settlements in South East Asia; 5th Century. UNESCO honoured this site in 2001.
This Laos travel guide strongly recommends visiting these two sites and more. Those on organised tours will have all accommodation arrangements made for them; others can expect to find some hotels and plenty of guesthouses locally.