The original name of Laos was Lan Xang, which means “The Kingdom of Million Elephants”. It’s still considered to be one of the most amazing countries to travel to in Asia. The country, which used to be a French colony once, has not changed that rapidly. It still preserves its ancient temples, rich culture, magnificent tropical nature with a large variety of exotic flora and fauna and spectacular scenery.
The capital of Laos is Vientiane. It is the largest and most populated city of the country, being not only the cultural, but also the economical center. The name of the capital means “sandalwood”, which is one of the main symbols of the country. It is lying on the bank of the Mekong River.
Pha That Luang, located in the capital, is the place, which unites the Lao people not only during the religious events, but also other occasions. But in November it welcomes believers and pilgrims not only from the local cities, but also other Buddhist countries. The place usually gets so crowded that the gold-covered large Buddhist stupa gets entirely covered with the visitors. It is the official residence of the Lao Buddhist Patriarch. It is not allowed to get in too far, but you can still have a look at the building and admire its breathtaking view.
Another interesting site to visit in Vientiane is the Lao National History Museum. This amazing place houses a rich collection of ancient and archaeological findings, old documentary photographs and handicrafts products of the Lao people. It’s the perfect place to get closer to the history and culture of the nation of the country.
As for the fans of natural wonders, the best option will be the Buddha Park or Xieng Khuan, which is located about 25 kilometers southeast from the capital city. The park itself is rather young. Back in 1958 the surrealist sculptor named Bunya Salisilat got an idea of having a part with the statues of the major deities of Buddhism and Hinduism. And then the place was turned into a park located on the banks of the Mekong River. Currently you can have a look at the sculptures that reflect certain moments of life of the Buddha Ganesha – the elephant-headed deity, protection of travelers, and the four-faced Brahma – the God of creation.
The ancient capital of Laos, Luang Prabang is a city with a large amount of monasteries, which are in good conditions, allowing the city to be included in UNESCO World Heritage List. The northern suburbs of the city are popular with sacred caves. It’s known that here the locals used to honor the spirit of Buddha before becoming official followers of the belief. The mystery of the place is justified with narrow and long rooms and wall-crafts.
The majestic Kuang Si Falls are another wonderful site to see in Luang Prabang. It combines two of the best natural things together, and those are natural jungles and falls. Going through the narrow paths of the jungles your will find yourself witnessing one of the most beautiful waterfalls.
And the final destination point in the city should be the legendary Hmongtown Marketplace. Here you can purchase a large list of goodies for just a few dollars. And the good point is that most of the items here will cost no more than 2 dollars. This is just awesome if you have in mind that most of them are handmade.
The north-eastern Laos is no less interesting. Here you will find Jar Valley, which is a rather isolated place, but still attracts lots of visitors from around the world. The locals call the place the “Valley of Jars”. This is due to the presence of the monumental buildings. The outrageous stone structures are rather large. The biggest one has a mass of 10 tons.
Overall Laos is an idea place for those who wish to get more information about Buddhism. The locals have preserved the religious items and monuments in their original state, allowing the visitors getting an impression of the early Buddhism. The nature of it is also appealing, the only misfortune of it is the absence of the access to the water: the country is surrounded only with countries, all having such an advantage. Still its natural beauty of valleys and the Mekong River itself are tempting enough to inspire one to organize a journey to Laos right away!