If you think Laos is just like Cambodia and Vietnam – think again! While Laos likes to fly under the radar, its gentle demeanour and untouched countryside dotted with waterfalls, ancient relics and winding rivers are only the beginning of what there is to discover.
1. You can explore plains of ancient stone jars
Sounds weird, right? But in the northern parts of Laos, in Xiang Khuang Province, you will find giant stone dug outs scattered across the countryside. Stretching for hundreds of kilometres, archaeologists estimate they date somewhere between 500 BC to AD 200.
2. Laos was severely impacted by the Vietnam War
This might come as a surprise to travellers but Laos is recognised as the world’s most bombed country. Over two billion tonnes of bombs (more than all of the bombs dropped on Europe during World War II) were dropped in Laos during the Vietnam War.
3. The meals tend to be sticky
Most meals in Laos are based on sticky rice. The locals roll it into balls in the palm of their hand and then dip it in delicious sauces. Don’t be shy to try it yourself!
4. It’s the perfect country for coffee lovers
Laos is home to the best coffee is South East Asia. In fact, coffee is its biggest export. The fact that they serve it with condensed milk takes it to a whole new level of sweet caffeine goodness.
5. Buddhism is the biggest religion
Theravada Buddhism accounts for 67 per cent of the population. About 30 per cent also practice animism, in some cases alongside Buddhism.
6. There’s proof humans have inhabited Laos for a really long time
The oldest modern human fossil in the world was found in a cave in North Laos. Word on the street suggests it’s 46,000 years old.
7. You can get a beer for a buck
Beerlaos is one of the nation’s biggest exports. It also happens to be extremely cheap. A sneaky cold one will set you back around one US dollar.
8. Laos translates to the ‘Land of a Million Elephants’
The symbol of an elephant was used by the kingdom of Lan Xang that ruled in Laos between the fourteenth and early eighteenth century. While there aren’t as many elephants roaming around today, it’s a powerful reminder of the might of an ancient civilisation.
9. There’s a stunning (and massive) waterfall waiting for you!
Laos is home to the Khone Papeng, South East Asia’s largest (and most awesome) waterfall.
‘Laos’ that we’ve got your attention, check out our small group adventures to Laos now.
Feature image by Ben McNamara.