Asia + The Middle East Laos Diverse Cultures, Beautiful Landscapes, Lively Local Markets, Local Private Guiding One of Asia’s most culturally diverse and fascinating countries, Laos is home to over one hundred tribal and ethnic groups and is a land of ancient wats and a traditional way of life. Here emerald rice paddies plummet into the waters of the Mekong and monks in saffron robes walk the colonial streets of Luang Prabang. Relatively unspoilt by the modern world, it’s easy to see why travellers are charmed by Laos and we use our specialist knowledge here to help you gain an insight into a way of life fast disappearing in Asia. Visitors to Laos are enchanted not only by its beautiful landscapes but by the warm and relaxed attitude of the locals and our guides here can take you off the beaten track to little-known villages and lively local markets. Cruise down the Mekong to Luang Prabang and let our guides show you the closer side of this remarkable town. Visit the best-preserved temples in Asia and learn about Buddhist ceremonies first hand, enjoy a hosted private lunch in a local home or learn about silk weaving with a local specialist. These are just a few ways in which we pass on our passion for Laos and help you see the best the country has to offer. Stories Places to Stay Highlights Location Stories As every one of the holidays we create is truly tailor-made, all of our clients come back with different and interesting stories. We love to hear from our clients on their return to find out about their most memorable moments. Our Destination Experts are also always travelling to our extraordinary destinations and every trip allows us to refine and add value to our clients' future experiences. Treasures of the Mekong Though most places in Laos are magical in their own way, a boat trip along the Mekong Delta can make you feel that you are finally getting in touch with the heart and soul of the country and its people. The Mekong has a way of drawing you in and seeing the dramatic, winding landscape in front of you. This is what Scarlett experienced... Find out more The ultimate adventure for all the family Sara Cator travelled with her daughter to Laos, it proved to be a thrilling destination which was full of excitement and jam-packed with interesting things for both of them to do during their short time there. From learning about local textiles at Ock Pop Tok in Luang Prabang to boat trips along the Mekong River. Find out more Exclusive and extraordinary guiding Although Jo had trodden these paths before, she felt as if she had been parachuted into a strange land as she explored her way around the map of Indochina. The food and outlandish markets, the architecture and art, culture and personal encounters - all shape the search for the extraordinary. Find out more Witches Brew at the Local Market Jo Mollet woke up early one morning to experience Luang Prabang's buzzing local market. With a local and specialist guide at her side she discovered a unique market stall selling herbal medicines. Hesitant to try one of the concoctions on offer, she soon plucked up the courage and was pleasantly surprised. Find out more Places to Stay At cazenove+loyd, we have no vested interest in the hotels, lodges, boats, trains and tented camps which we select. We only choose what is right for a particular client. We visit each destination in our three regions on a regular basis and have detailed conversations with our clients on their return so our choices are continually refined. Here are just four c+l reviews. This is by no means a prescriptive list, but hints at what we look for and value in places to stay. Amantaka, Luang Prabang Amantaka’s graceful French colonial buildings are situated in a glorious garden estate creating a peaceful, yet unassuming luxury retreat. We love that it is ideally located within walking distance of all the many cultural and historical sights Luang Prabang has to offer. Find out more Sofitel, Luang Prabang Hotel de la Paix is a beautifully renovated boutique hotel in the Ban Mano quarter of Luang Prabang and artfully combines charming colonial features with contemporary design in a relaxing and intimate environment. We like it for its modern feel and clean lines - as well as its ideal location close to Luang Prabang's historic centre, so that you can experience the city at your own pace. Find out more Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao, Luang Prabang We recommend Belmond La Residence Phou Vao for clients seeking an intimate and romantic setting outside of Luang Prabang. Set within extensive manicured gardens of palm, frangipani and banana trees, the striking infinity pool overlooks the old town and enigmatic mountains beyond. This hotel provides an exceptionally serene environment from which you explore the fascinating sights of Luang Prabang. Find out more Ock Pop Tok Villa, Luang Prabang A visit to Ock Pop Tok is one of Luang Prabang's highlights. Resting on the banks of the Mekong River, Ock Pop Tok is the perfect place to get to grips with Laos’ textiles, handicrafts and design culture. The Villa, is made up of four simply designed textile themed rooms. The whole experience provides you with a genuine insight into Lao’s traditions, as well as allowing you to completely relax in a welcoming and peaceful environment. Find out more Highlights For over 20 years we have been creating the best luxury tailor-made holidays, we know our countries inside and out and really know how to get under the skin of each one and the best way to experience them. Luang Prabang Located in Northern Laos next to the Mekong River, Luang Prabang is the most interesting town in the country. It is a small and friendly place to be, with spectacular architecture and beautiful surrounding lush green countryside and mountains. Find out more PAK OU CAVES The Pak Ou Caves are a definite ‘must’ for anyone going to Luang Prabang. Hidden away under the rocks on the banks of the Mekong, the stairs carved into the rock-face lead up to two caves which have been a Buddhist shrine for thousands of years. Find out more The Mekong River Exploring the Mekong River by boat, one of the world's longest rivers, is an excellent way to experience the 'real Laos'. It is a trip of awe-inspiring scenery and in our opinion the best way to arrive at Luang Prabang. Find out more The Monks of Wat Sibounheuang Meeting the young monks of Sibounheuang is a real privilege, and something we recommend to anyone interested in learning more about Buddhism in Asia. It is a unique experience and gives a special insiders view of the country's religious practice. Find out more Location We know Laos better than most. The possibilities are endless and ever-changing. On the map below, we have plotted some of our current favourite places to stay, some c+l highlights and a few pertinent client stories. And you can see if there is a team member travelling in that particular country and link through to them and what they are up to, so you can get them to call you on their return. Best time to visit Laos Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to go Best visited between November and April in order to avoid the rainy season. But like much of South East Asia, the rainy season is very beautiful, particularly for photographers and painters. Almost all of our Clients travelling to Laos take in a part of either Cambodia, Thailand or Vietnam and flights between all four countries are very good with frequent schedules. And there is now an excellent river boat on the Mekong between Vietnam and Cambodia and we even have a small river boat for the more adventurous between Laos and Thailand. Meet the Team Asia + The Middle East Venetia Chris Penny Florence Auriole We'd love to hear from you Our well travelled Destination Experts have extensive first hand knowledge of their destinations and can open doors that others simply can’t.