This long, narrow, landlocked country has a thickly forested landscape dominated by mountains. The Annamite Mountain range forms the eastern boundary with Vietnam and the Luang Prabang range forms the north western border with the Thai highlands. The mighty Mekong River forms a large part of the western boundary with Thailand and for Laos people it is an integral part of their lives. As well as fishing, drinking and washing, the river is their main source of transportation and used heavily for agriculture.
In the quiet capital city of Vientiane there are some magnificent temples and well preserved colonial buildings, whilst, further north, the ancient town of Luang Prabang is listed as a World Heritage site.
Many Lao families are subsistence farmers and there are few major industries. The main wealth is the rivers, and hydro electric power is exported to several neighbouring countries. The mining of minerals and tourism are also increasingly important.
Size: 236,800 square kilometres
Population: 6.5 million
Languages: Laos, French and English
Religion: 67% Buddhism, 2% Christian & 31% Other
Land borders: Burma, Cambodia, China, Thailand & Vietnam
Climate: Laos has a tropical climate with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 38°C. The exception to this is in the mountainous regions where temperatures can drop as low as 0°C at night. Click here to contact one of our consultants for more information on when and where to travel.
Money: Laos Kip. However, US dollars are extensively used and universally accepted - although change is usually given in the local currency. ATMs are available in most major cities.
Tipping: Not expected but wages are comparatively low and tips are always welcome.
Formalities: 30 day visas can be purchased on arrival. Check Laos Embassy website for up-to-date information before travelling.
Travel advice: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office produce up-to-date information on countries around the world. This which can be checked on www.fco.gov.uk