Laos Geography and Climate

Until 1988, the entry of tourists into the territory of Laos was prohibited. Long isolation contributed to the fact that today you can see the untouched life of Southeast Asia. The mountain villages preserve the traditional subsistence economy, and the capital of the country – Vientiane – will amaze you with its leisurely lifestyle. In Laos, the main types of recreation are excursions to cities and natural attractions, rafting, trekking, cycling.

Among the cultural attractions, the most popular are Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Phonsavan with its Valley of Jars, Pu Champasak Temple near Pakse. The country’s natural attractions include tropical forests with rich flora and fauna, waterfalls, karst caves. All the beauty of the nature of Laos can be felt in Vang Vieng – a city lying halfway between Vientiane and Luang Prabang. Its landscape combines mountains, the Nam Song River valley, tropical vegetation and karst caves, attracting many tourists here. In the very south of Laos there is a place called Sipandon (Si Phang Don) or 4 thousand islands. The name is not accidental, in this place the Mekong floods and forms many small and large islands, the number of which increases during the dry season, when the river becomes shallow.

Some of the best areas for trekking are the Bolaven Plateau, Luang Prabang Province and Luang Namtha Province. It is worth taking a boat trip on the Mekong, during which you can enjoy the rich nature and get to know the life of the Laotians.

The best time to visit Laos is during the dry season from November to April. However, from March to May it can be quite hot, the thermometer at this time often rises to +35…40 degrees. In winter, it is cool in the northern regions, but the daytime temperature rarely drops below +15 o. Some tourists also come during the rainy season – from May to October, since during this period there are more opportunities for settlement and housing is cheaper.

The official language of Laos is Lao. Separate nationalities and tribes speak dialects of Lao, close to the Thai language. English, French and Vietnamese are also used.

Geography in Laos

According to top-engineering-schools, Laos belongs to the countries of Southeast Asia. It is located on the Indochina peninsula and covers an area of 236.8 km2. The length of Laos from north to south is 1700 km, from west to east – 500 km in the widest part and 140 km in the narrowest. The country borders China to the north, Vietnam to the northeast and east, Cambodia to the south, Thailand to the west, and Myanmar to the northwest. Laos is a predominantly mountainous country with medium-altitude ranges and plateaus. Mountains with heights of 1500 – 2000 m predominate in the north. In the central part of Laos the Xiangkhuang plateau is located at a height of about 1200 m, south of which rises the highest mountain of the country, Bia (2819 m). In the southeast are the Truong Son mountains, which are replaced by low plateaus, ledges breaking off to the wide Mekong valley. In the extreme south of the country there is a vast Bolaven basalt plateau with average heights up to 1200 m.

The main river of the country is the Mekong, along which most of its border with Thailand passes. The length of the Mekong in Laos is 1850 km. Most of the other rivers belong to the Mekong basin. The largest of them are Tha, U, Lik, Ngum, Bangfai, Banghiang, Don, Kong, Then. Rivers are the main means of communication, but navigation on many of them is limited due to numerous rapids and waterfalls. The Mekong is navigable for 500 km from Vientiane to Savannakhet, where the river is 1.5 km wide.

Climate in Laos

Laos belongs to the subequatorial monsoon climate zone. Depending on the conditions of moisture and temperature, three seasons are distinguished. The season is from May to October – wet and hot, from November to February – cool and dry, from February to April – dry and hot. The temperature also varies greatly depending on the altitude.

In the Mekong Valley, the hottest months are April and May, when during the daytime the air warms up to +35 degrees, and the coldest months are December and January with an average daily temperature of +27 and an average night temperature of +13…15. In the mountains during the year, daytime temperatures range from +21 in December to +29 in April, nighttime temperatures from +7 in January to +20 in June. There are frosts in the mountains in the north. Precipitation across the country is unevenly distributed: in the mountainous regions, up to 3500 mm falls per year, and on the plains – 1000-2000 mm. The rainiest time is summer, when from 300 to 500 mm of precipitation can fall in one month. No more than 20 mm falls during the whole winter.

Best time to visit:
The best time to visit Laos is during the dry season from November to April. However, from March to May it can be quite hot, the thermometer at this time often rises to +35…40 degrees. In winter, it is cool in the northern regions, but the daytime temperature rarely drops below +15 o. Some tourists also come during the rainy season – from May to October, since during this period there are more opportunities for settlement and housing is cheaper.

Laos Geography

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