This landlocked country borders China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar; making it a rite of passage for anyone journeying across the entirety of Southeast Asia. Come here to experience the flora and fauna of this part of the world in its forests, plains, on mountains and via trips on the Mekong River. Man-made attractions include Laos’ French-colonial architecture, rural highland hill tribe settlements, the Patuxai war memorial, Talat Sao (the morning market) and Buddhist monasteries. The That Luang monument found in the capital, Vientiane, is said to hold Buddha’s breastbone.
Rosewood Luang Prabang
With just 23 bedrooms and concealed in the leafy jungle beside Luang Prabang, this riverside property is a regal hideaway. Stay in a room, a villa or a sumptuous hilltop tent, for a rustic-luxe adventure. Experience Laotian gastronomy, with farm-to-table ingredients, in its two restaurants; The Great House, a colonially-influenced bistro, and the Elephant Bar, set on a wooden bridge, above the river. Rosewood’s Sense spas are legendary and this one, housed in tented pavilions, seeks to cleanse, replenish and bring balance to its guests. At the heart of the property is an oval-shaped pool and natural waterfall, around which loungers and daybeds are arranged, with waiters bringing cool drinks and cocktails.
Sofitel Luang Prabang
A UNESCO-protected building, the Sofitel Luang Prabang in Ban Mano, served as the French Governor’s residence in the 1900s. As such, it’s in a residential area yet minutes from the airport and city centre and boasts heritage design. Stay in one of 26 suites here and you’ll benefit from your own private garden with gazebo and outdoor bathtub or a private pool. Take a seat in a wicker chair for drinks and dinner at the Governor’s Grill; swim in the Olympic-size pool with its pretty blue mosaic tiles; have a wander through the landscaped gardens and book some ancient Lao rituals at Le Spa.
Avani+ Luang Prabang Hotel
This contemporary-classic hotel was built on the site of French officer quarters, in the centre of the city (which you can explore on bicycles loaned free from the concierge), namely the Sethathirath Road District. Low rise and balconied, the 53-bedroom building overlooking Mount Phousi, is flanked by blossom and banyan trees. There’s a 25-metre pool, a spa and a grill restaurant on its grounds. But with the night market right across the street and the river five minutes’ walk away, you’ll probably want to explore the neighbourhood of this UNESCO-listed city.