After years of isolation, Laos is fast becoming the new darling of Indochina. There's a rich amalgam of natural beauty (mountains, rivers, caves), French-feeling towns (croissants, cafés and colonial chic) and exotic colour (gilded wats, processing monks and bewildering markets), which remains undiluted by the mass tourism that has seeped into Thailand and, more recently, Vietnam. Perhaps its lack of coastline is its saving grace - though the mighty Mekong river can feel like an inland sea in rainy season.
The undisputed highlight is the former royal capital and UNESCO World Heritage city of Luang Prabang. But of equal charm is Laos' capital city, buzzy Vientiane. Home to a wealth of golden stupas, buzzy markets and some of the country’s best food, you'll want at least 2 days here.