In little over a decade, Laos has evolved from a niche destination on the South East Asian trail for lugging backpackers, into an established tourist hotspot on the world travel map. The interest of more mainstream travellers has culminated through the establishment of Luang Prabangs Old Town and Wat Phous pre-Angkorian temple as UNESCO world heritage sites, emphasizing the countrys reputation as a spiritual and cultural retreat.
With the fresh flow of visitors all after a fix of nature and nostalgia, accommodation in Laos has increased and diversified to encompass a vast array of options, from cosy guesthouses and old-style home stays to fashionable eco-lodges and high-end hotels and boutiques.
At the budget end of the scale, traditional guesthouses and bungalows, usually found along the banks of the Mekong River or in peaceful city peripheries, cater to guests in search of an unassuming yet comfortable room. For those who prefer a direct insight into the life of locals, home stays offer the ideal platform in which travellers can experience Laotian values and immerse themselves in the host familys every-day life. Further up the spectrum are mid-range boutique hotels, which provide a greater range of contemporary comforts such as internet access, air conditioning and televisions. Although a number of the hotels are recent constructions, they often integrate design elements which pay homage the countrys history and culture.
Eco-lodges are fast becoming popular tourist choices and offer environmentally-conscious guests a perfect sanctuary amongst the tranquillity of nature. These cabins tend to be built from local materials, hire local employers and support the preservation of the surrounding countryside and community. Alongside the lure of natural beauty, trips to nearby villages are usually an attraction offered by eco-lodges. There are also a number of protected areas hidden and unscathed by mass tourism.
Many of the prime accommodation draws in Laos are stunningly preserved, restored former residences of Laotian and French aristocracy, a number of which have been rejuvenated and renovated into luxury hotels. Even new hotels like Luang Say Residence in Luang Prabang have managed to retain a colonial charm and great architectural effort has been made to subtly blend the usual modern amenities such as WiFi, cable television and spa facilities with the antiquity of these heritage homes.
At the top of the luxury ladder there are no holds barred when it comes personal comforts. The ethos of this ancient kingdom is captured through opulently landscaped grounds, five star service, fine dining options and unique conveniences such as private swimming pools and evn butler service at some resorts.
Excursions to local natural attractions can be arranged with ease and guests can also stay in style on-board boats that are specially adapted by private companies like Mekong Cruises. These enchanting cruises stop off at concealed caverns, riverside temples and quaint villages as they travel from the Thai border to Luang Prabang and beyond. Laos nascent accommodation sector continues to highlight the country as one of South East Asias most majestic travel experiences, and tourists can look forward to a mesmerising trip.