Until recently, Laos was way off the beaten track for most travellers, with the exception of backpackers and the truly adventurous.
Squeezed between Vietnam and Thailand, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is a poor, developing country ruled by a communist one-party government. With the government’s desire to increase foreign exchange earnings, Western tourists were first allowed entry in 1988.
Services and facilities for tourists are adequate in the country’s capital Vientiane and the UNESCO World Heritage tiny and ancient town of Luang Prabang, but are extremely limited in other parts of the country.
Kelly visited Luang Prabang, which is encircled by mountains and 700 metres above sea level at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers. For centuries it served as the kingdom’s royal capital, but that changed with the communist take-over in 1975.