Glittering temples, monks in saffron robes, misty mountain peaks, aromatic markets, jasmine-scented sunrises, picturesque landscapes, lazy island life—Laos is all about simple pleasures. Centuries-old monasteries co-exist peacefully with cities that are fast adapting to tourism. But the wilderness is still pristine, the culture still intact and the way of life, still languid. To get under the skin of Laos, read Christopher Kremmer's 'Bamboo Palace', watch 'Bombies' and listen to the sounds of Molam Lao.
Best time to visit: November to February. The average temperature in Laos is 26.5°C, with the average highest being 34°C in April and the average lowest being 17°C in January and December.
Traditionally, Laotians ate by hand, used spoons for soup and chopsticks for noodles. Their staple food is sticky rice. Lemongrass, garlic, ginger, tamarind, coriander, galangal, which looks like ginger, but is citrusy, and fish sauce, are important ingredients. Lao cuisine has influenced many South East Asian cuisines and has, in turn been influenced by French cuisine. Baguettes are sold on the street, and fusion French restaurants are common.
Intricate weaves, elaborate silver trinkets, spices, tea, contemporary Lao paintings, handmade paper, precious stones, silk, linen, postcards, wall hangings, Hmong appliqué blankets
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