A lone bastion of the old world in the heart of South East Asia, Laos is a country where you'll still hear the chants of meditating monks with the sunrise, still see incense swirling from lotus-peppered shrines, and still meet traditional Hmong farmers working the land. Luang Prabang is the undisputed piece de resistance. You might even be able to bag cheap flights to Laos from Australia going direct to its small international airport – a shortcut to hopping market stalls that sell pickled snakes and wondering at gold-rimmed Buddhist temples. Aside from that, there's a lively French-inspired capital with baguette shops and colonial architecture, along with a backcountry that's defined by the snaking Mekong River and endless karst ranges blanketed in gibbon-rich jungle.
The Mekong River wiggles through the heart of Laos. Ride a longboat from the Thai border all the way to Cambodia and you'll see the very essence of the country.
Culture and religion oozes from every dragon-writhed temple and stupa in gorgeous Luang Prabang.
The old-growth jungles of Huay Xai are the backdrop for this intrepid tour to meet the startlingly intelligent gibbon apes that occupy northern Laos.
No airlines fly direct between Australia and the Laos.
The best airline to fly between Australia and the Laos is Singapore Airlines. The best low-cost airline is Scoot.