Laos is one of the least explored yet the most alluring country in Asia. This landlocked country has emerged in recent years as a destination for travelers looking for a long-lost Southeast Asia, and they find it in Laos' lush forests, buzzing day and night markets, rice fields, regal Buddhist temples and French colonial traces. Explore the grandeur of Luang Prabang, a UNESCO heritage town, with colonial buildings share quaint lanes with Buddhist temples and traditional Lao wooden homes. Interact with the country’s national animal at an eco-friendly elephant sanctuary. Or get off the beaten track and visit the highlands for the prehistoric monuments on the Plain of Jars or the Champasak region in the south, offering an intoxicating blend of ancient ruins and gorgeous scenery. The national capital Vientiane is home to the country's grandest temples, including the iconic golden That Luang stupa. But perhaps the best way to soak up Laos' culture, history and hospitality is by slowly cruising the Mekong River, which winds through the country.