After two decades of isolation following the Vietnam war, Laos began to open up to the outside world late in the last century. For centuries, although ruled by its own kings, this mountainous land formed a sort of buffer between more the powerful kingdoms of China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Siam.
Now this landlocked nation is open to tourism, although this openness is on its own terms. Development of large scale facilities for visitors has proceeded at a very slow pace. This means Laos is still relatively unspoiled by mass tourism.
If you visit Laos, be prepared to slow down and enjoy a more relaxed pace than you might be used to. While you can make a whirlwind tour of the entire country, its better to take your time and spend at least three or four days in each place. For ideas on where to go and what to see, go to the orientation page.