Incredible mountian scenery
For many, the lofty mountains and sheer riverine valleys of northern Laos truly sum up the dreamy and exotic nature of the entire country.
Bisected by the Mekong River, the north attracts the bulk of backpackers and travellers who make it to Laos, but with the urban centres widely dispersed, the roads rough and the rivers slow, with a couple of exceptions this part of Laos is never too crowded.
By far the crown jewels of north Laos, the former royal capital of Luang Prabang remains one of the most charming and romantic cities in all of Asia. With an international airport and improving arterial roads, the city is becoming more crowded, but it still retains much of its charm. Luang Prabang should be considered an absolute must see for the first time visitor to Laos.
Further afield, trekking centres are developing in Phongsali and Luang Nam Tha in the far north, while closer to Luang Prabang, the twin hideaways of Muang Ngoi and Nong Kiaow are rapidly developing into a viable and more pleasant alternative to the totally over-touristed Vang Vieng.
Many chose to enter Laos from Thailand via the Huay Xai border crossing, some then opt for the boat trip downriver to Luang Prabang, while others strike north towards Luang Nam Tha. Enroute they can stop at the Gibbon Experience -- one of Laos' best kept secrets -- a unique way to aid conservation in this small country while gaining experiences of a lifetime.
While the mountainous north has plentiful trekking opportunities, more adventurous travellers will not find it difficult to get off the beaten track and explore the most hidden aspects of the country. In the far northeast, beyond the Plain of Jars and Phonsavan lies the Pathet Lao homeland of Sam Neau, where, with the opening of a new international border to Vietnam more intrepid travellers are venturing. There you'll find rustic attractions, historic attractions and the caves that hid away the stalwarts of the Pathet Lao.
Be sure to allow yourself enough time to slow down and enjoy the pace of life -- the north of Laos is a fascinating part of the country and one best not raced through.
Get orientated with a map of Northern Laos
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