Lao (Laos), Thailand’s neighbor to the east, is considered one of the “unspoiled” Asian countries to experience. Though Lao is one of the poorest countries in the world, governed under Communist rule, westernization is slowly finding its way to this generally tranquil and peaceful nation. I was, however, happy to see that after six years (when I was here the first time) I found that whatever changes that have been made (with regards to the look and feel of the country), were not drastic. (However, I haven’t been back here since 2004.)
Luang Prabang in the north is a sleepy little former French Colonial town which hosts some of Lao’s oldest and best preserved Buddhist temples. This mellow hamlet rests on a peninsula, sandwiched between the Mekong and Nam Khan rives. Being that it is a Unesco World Heritage Site, there’s some assurance that it will not become too commercialized too soon. And though there are far more hotels, guest houses and restaurants than ever, and many of the locals now treat visitors too much like cash cows, it’s still one of the best places I know of to spend a week or two in.