Laos is known as the ‘land of a million elephants’ because in the past there were great numbers of wild elephants roaming and grazing freely in its green pastures and extensive forests. Nowadays the elephant population in Laos is rapidly dwindling and there are fewer than a thousand wild elephants to be found here, let alone a million.
Geographically speaking, the country is centrally positioned in mainland Southeast Asia and is completely landlocked, sharing its borders with Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and China. A slender arm extends south from the larger central region to form the southern part of Laos.
Laos is the most sparsely populated country of Southeast Asia and has also been somewhat forgotten by foreign tourists, receiving only 4.23 million visitors in 2016. Don’t let that fool you though, because this is a country that has the ability to steal hearts like no other. Laos is a nature paradise with lush steaming jungles, mighty meandering rivers, jaw-dropping waterfalls, emerald green paddy-fields and awe-inspiring limestone caves. Its Buddhist culture also means there is no shortage of monasteries and gleaming golden chedis to delight visitors and the country’s incredibly laid-back atmosphere is intoxicating, causing many to overstay their visas.
We made our first trip to Laos in 2015, entering the southernmost tip of the country by land from Cambodia and slowly making our way north, ultimately getting as far as Vang Vieng. Regrettably, we weren’t producing videos back then so we have no footage of that amazing trip.
However, we later returned to Laos in 2016, this time entering into the northeastern part by land from Vietnam. We explored a good chunk of the north and even made it to one of the Laos-China border-crossing points. We also visited Luang Prabang, the cultural and historic heart of Laos and the town where almost all foreign visitors seem to flock to. We also made it out to the seldom-visited eastern part of Laos during that trip, which was heavily bombed during the Vietnam War. This time we filmed everything.