THE MAGNIFICENCE OF LAOS
A land of bottomless serenity and beauty
A cruise along the upper Mekong is a mesmerizing journey, meandering between countless river bends and captivating landscapes. The river, the mountains, the jungles, the shores, the hidden villages, and the rocks which embrace this river all feel untouched, while the therapeutic sounds of running water and nature puts one’s mind at ease. At some points the river becomes narrow, flanked by jungle cladded mountains, at others it gushes and cascades through the rocks and rapids, and in particular areas tranquil waters flow calmly past sandbanks and settlements.
There is a certain juxtaposition about the river – ever-changing yet not changing at all – though always a blissful experience to explore the charm of Laos along the Mekong.
and riverside hamlets
In contrast to being one of Asia’s least densely populated nations (7 million inhabitants and roughly the size of the UK), Laos is also one of the continent’s most ethnically diverse. There are four main ethno-linguistic families: the Lao-Tai group (60%), Mon-Khmer (24%), Hmong-Lu Mien (10%), the Chine-Tibetan (3%). These four families are then divided into 50 ethnic groups, which can be further broken down into more than 200 ethnic subgroups. The majority of Laos’s population lives along the banks of the Mekong or one of its many tributaries, and there is an especially high concentration of ethnic groups along the stretch of river between Luang Prabang and the Golden Triangle, including the Akha, Hmong, Mon, and Khmu. Many ethnic groups still retain their beliefs in Animism and worship their ancestors.
For many, the town of Luang Prabang is the most precious jewel of Southeast Asia. Home to over 30 Buddhist temples and monasteries, Luang Prabang’s name literally translates to “Royal Buddha Image.” With a population of just 55,000 (Vientiane 820,000), Luang Prabang is a quaint little town with an inescapable charm which can be attributed to its picturesque Banyan tree-lined street, the French-colonial influence, traditional wooden architecture, tranquil Buddhist feeling, and laissez-faire atmosphere. This remarkably well-preserved fusion gives the town its true distinction and status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1995).
To moodle through this enchanting town and idle time away is the best way to find out the charming, cultural heart of Laos.
Similar other Southeast Asian countries, Laos is also renowned for its natural silk crafts. But unlike its neighbours, Laos’s premium silk products are completely organic and solely woven by hand. The weaving process may vary not just among the different regions of the country, but also between households as a result of techniques passed on from generation to generation. Each silk-woven item is truly unique, having its own distinguishing designs and patterns.
On average, a local silk weaver can create a metre of garment a day, but for some of the more intricate items it is often only a couple of centimeters. It can even take a villager more than a month of meticulous dexterity to finish a single garment.
When visiting Laos for the first time, one may notice immediately that something is different. Something that cannot be described in words floats invisibly through the air. Local encounters are embossed by a smile and admiration. Kindness, tenderness, compassion, empathy, or the slowness seems to emanate from every living soul; from the buildings and the nature. Buddhism, is a part of everything here. Some who experience Laos for the first time may be so captured by this peacefulness that they return over and over again.
This may be, or is, the only reason to visit this wonderful country.
Discover the treasures of the Upper Mekong with our exceptional cruise itineraries
Huay Xai – Luang Prabang or vice versa
A slow voyage along the timeless upper Mekong offering captivating landscapes, remote native communities and unique cultural insights coupled with interesting lectures and wonderful alfresco-dining experiences.
7 or 9 nights
Huay Xai – Vientiane or vice versa
This longer cruise (7-Nights downstream, 9-Nights upstream) offers a blissful journey through beautiful Laos at a leisurely pace. Perfect to experience the unhurried riverine life with naturally stunning backdrops, paired with mesmerizing excursions and charming local rendezvous.
Interesting facts about Laos