Laos is one of the few Communist countries left in the world. Until
1988, tourists were not allowed access to Laos, but now it is perfectly
feasible to travel all over the country, preferably with a recognised
tour company, although plenty of backpackers do it independently. The
number of tourists is expected to continue increasing over the next few
years as more and more people discover the delights of this laid-back
country of mountains and rivers.
For now, Laos remains relatively isolated and undeveloped. Its capital,
Vientiane, is more like a big village than a crowded Asian hub and life
throughout the country is slow paced. Most people come to Laos and make a
brief tour of Vientiane and UNESCO World Heritage-listed Luang Prabang
with perhaps a brief detour to the mysterious Plain of Jars. But those
who make the effort to explore further afield will be well rewarded with
luscious landscapes, friendly people and unique glimpses of a country
hardly changed for over a century.