For the curious traveller, the journey into Laos is a rewarding and fantastic experience. Part of what was known as Indo-China, the collective name for the former French Territories in the region. Whilst Vietnam and Cambodia were prized possesions, Laos was seen more as “buffer” value against invasion. It remains one of the less developed (and least populated) countries in south east Asia. Laos is a hidden gem, with a less frantic pace than all of its neighbours. It might lack the infrastructure of commercialised tourism but that makes it all the more appealing. Development is gradually coming, with more small hotels opening, but it has to be on terms that satisfy the Lao people. Of all the countries in the region, it is the least openly commercial and interested in western style consumerism. It has a delightful serene, totally laid back style, with Buddhism dominating every aspect of day to day life.
The Mekong River is one of the most spectacular and fascinating rivers of the world. CHIC Locations now offers a selection of 4 and 6 day River and Exploration experiences offering breath taking scenery and a relaxing way to explore regions and villages in Laos the spirit of adventure. virtually untouched by commercial tourism. The boats, or more aptly described as floating hotels, are authentic “boutique“ style converted rice barges, with a maximum of 32 passengers, comfortable with modern amenities but fully capturing the mood and charm of the destination.
On this option, we are still using converted rice barges, but larger ships with 16 comfortable cabins, all with shower. Accurately promoted as a 6 day (5 night) cruise. It is actually a floating hotel as you return back to your base in Luang Prabang most evenings, following a full day cruise to the upper northern region of the Mekong, with each day discovering a different stretch of waterway, traditional villages and hill tribes, with incredible sights and experiences.
The Mekong and Luang Prabang Gibbon Experience tour is wonderful, but totally authentic travel adventure. You will need to be reasonably fit, and certainly able to walk distances in sometimes difficult terrain. With the exception of the accommodation in Luang Prabang, which is both elegant and luxurious, the remainder is extremely simple, with the emphasis on a truly remarkable and genuine travel event. You will need to be comfortable with the realities of jungle life and find the sight on insects and reptiles fascinating, rather than life threatening!
Azerai Luang Prabang is a new deluxe hotel, opened in March 2017. Elegant and low rise, contemporary in style, but steeped in history. Centrally located within a few minutes walk of the market and the Nam Khan river.
La Residence Phou Vao is currently one of Luang Prabang’s largest hotels, yet with just a diminutive 34 rooms. Located on the outskirts of town, a few minutes drive or a leisurely 20-minute walk. Superb views of the surrounding countryside and Mount Phou Vao.
The Mekong is the artery of life in Laos. the main trading route, a source of food and a social centre with numerous small settlements. On the cruise you pass ancient Buddhist temples and all the activity that contributes towards the economy of the country, including farming, fishing, of course, teak logging and rather unique distillation with the production of the lethal Lao Lao 50% proof whisky.
Located 45 minutes drive outside of Luang Prabang, mainly on tarmac roads but with the last few miles on a dirt track. This is essentially an elephant camp that can be easily visited as a day tour, but for the more curious traveller, you also have the option of staying overnight or longer. Within the elephant camp, you have the opportunity to get up close and personal with these incredible animals.
The Hotel de La Paix is a heritage style deluxe resort. Boutique in design, converted from a grand old French colonial house, elegant and perfectly capturing the spirit of Laos. Located just 5 minutes from the city centre, and 15 minutes from the airport.