With its unspoilt countryside and superb previous Buddhist temples, Laos has a quiet attraction that units it other than its busier neighbours, Thailand and Vietnam.

And it is a nice time to go to, says Mark Stratton in The Occasions, with vacationer numbers decrease than ever owing to the pandemic, and the latest opening of the Laos-China railway. This 262-mile, Chinese language-funded route cuts throughout the nation from its capital, Vientiane, to Boten, on the Chinese language border.

It guarantees to be an financial “game-changer” for Laos; and it makes the overland journey from Vientiane to the “petite” metropolis of Luang Prabang (the nation’s “solely actual tourism hotspot”) far simpler. By bus, it took ten hours; now you will get there by practice in just a little greater than two. Tickets are usually not accessible on-line, and are sometimes offered out on the stations, so contemplate going with a tour operator that ensures them.

Life onboard the practice feels faintly “Orwellian”, with common bulletins instructing you to report “delinquent actions”. However the experience is “captivatingly scenic”, previous rice paddies harrowed by buffaloes bearing wood yokes, and “denticulated” limestone peaks that emerge from misty forests. It’s value lingering in Vientiane earlier than departure, to wander its broad boulevards (the legacy of French colonialism), and see its “dazzling” Buddhist landmarks.

However Luang Prabang is lovelier nonetheless, with a minimum of 32 richly adorned temples, some relationship again to its sixteenth century heyday. Opulent French-built villas, many housing boutique lodges, line the Mekong right here, and there’s an amazing array of eating places, cafés and cocktail bars wherein to whereas away the lengthy, humid evenings. 

Inside Asia (insideasiatours.com) has an 11-day journey from £2,051pp