What would your ideal exotic holiday be? Soaking up the rays on white-sanded beaches while cobalt blue waters lap the shore, beckoning you in for a cooling spot of snorkelling? Or perhaps you’d prefer a challenging highland trek, marvelling at vistas of rolling hills and lush vegetation, witnessing first-hand the traditions of life in a hill-tribe village, with an elephant ride home to look forward to.

Maybe you enjoy the buzz of discovering a new city, snapping up souvenir bargains in markets, sampling dishes from one of the tastiest cuisines in the world, and exploring stunning monuments of a proud cultural heritage. Or perhaps all you desire is to find a peaceful and rustic corner of the earth in which to unwind and watch the world go by. Thailand combines all this and far more.

Laos is the forgotten country of South East Asia. Mountainous and land locked, it is the size of the UK with a population of just 5.4 million making it one of the least densely peopled countries in the world. Yet it is one of the most ethnically diverse with over 50 tribal groups. Prior to 1990 the country is said to have had only one international phone line and a generation ago, few people upcountry even knew they lived in a country called Laos. The North of the country is the perfect place for the independent traveller to indulge in a dose of high adventure through landscapes that evoke the journals of nineteenth century French explorers.

A trip to Thailand, combined with the rural charms of Laos, offers you all these experiences and more. With ever-increasing Western influence, Asian cultures are more diverse than ever, but from Bangkok‘s neon-lit bars to the untouched wilderness of the Lao highlands, the traditional welcoming disposition of the Thai and Lao people endures.

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