Laos, also known as ‘Land of a Million Elephants’, is fast becoming an unmissable destination for backpackers on their Asian travels. Once a country labelled as forgotten, Laos boasts tropical, cinematic landscapes and offers a laid-back lifestyle and relaxed atmosphere that many seek, whether they want to break away from their desk or pause from fast-paced travels. Laos PDR (People’s Democratic Republic) is so relaxed that even the locals will joke “Laos, Please Don’t Rush”.
This flourishing, Buddhist country is home to emerald-green jungles and beautiful, colonial architecture that all contribute to the rich history and spiritual ethos of Laos. This is the perfect destination to help conserve Laos’ endearing wildlife, which desperately needs your help. So, combine your love for stunning scenery, adventure travel and magnificent animals by choosing a project in Laos!
The endemic species of Laos are nothing short of exotic. In fact, some of the animals that reside here, you probably wouldn’t have even know that they existed! The leafy-green country is home to a diverse animal population, that include a wide range of scaled, furry and feathered varieties of wildlife. With a such a diversified animal kingdom it’s difficult to pick the most notable, here are just a few:
• Sun Bears
• Black Crested Gibbons
• Irrawaddy Dolphins
• Clouded Leopards
Sadly, many of Laos’ native species are endangered due to illegal wildlife trading and poaching, and also the deforestation that is rife throughout Asia. With the Lao government taking a strict stance on wildlife crime and the rise of eco-tourism, the future of Laos’ animals is looking more and more positive but there is still so much to work to be done.
Laos has a rich culture infused with Theravada Buddhism and holds a complex and unique history. Due to the sheer numbers of ethnic groups, Laos is considered to be one of the most diverse countries in Southeast Asia.
Religion – As Buddhism is prevalent throughout the country, Laos’ music, art and architecture often reflects this. Buddhism is a huge part of their way of life and contributes to the laid-back lifestyle that Laos is known for. Another notable religion in Laos is Animism, a belief system that perceives non-human entities such as animals and plants as having souls and spirits.
Cuisine – Laos and Northeast Thailand share a distinct cuisine that slightly differs from other Southeast Asian countries. The first thing that comes to mind when discussing Lao food is sticky rice, which is known as the staple dish. It is a dish that might compliment Laab – a mixture of marinated meat or fish. Typically, Lao dishes hold a large number of ingredients and tend to always include fresh herbs and vegetables. Dinner is more-often-than-not a communal experience.
Tradition – One important tradition that is held throughout Laos is the Baci ceremony, also known as Su Kwan, which means ‘calling on the soul’. The ritual carried out is to preserve good luck and fortune by tying a symbolic thread around a person’s wrist. This is performed at special events such as weddings, births, and welcoming and farewell occasions.
With Laos being a beautifully diverse destination, it is hard to not want to see more. There is so much to do and see but as the locals will joke “Please Don’t Rush”.