Because of the minimal foreign influence, Laos offers visitors a unique glimpse of traditional South-East Asian life. From the fertile lowlands of the Mekong River valley to the rugged Annamite highlands, travelers who have been to Laos tend to agree that this country is the highlight of South-East Asia. Relatively small in size, and bordered by Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Myanmar, rivers, mountains and plateaus dominate the country's landscape, adding to its beauty. The capital city, Vientiane (pronounced 'Wieng Chan' by the locals) boasts the oldest temple in Laos and a former royal temple, now a museum. Visitors can also find lively markets and discos and music halls with live music - usually electrified with everything from Lao folk music or Western pop - to Thai, Chinese, Indian and even Bulgarian tunes.

The climate in Laos is generally hot and tropical. The hottest and rainiest months are May through October. From November through February the weather is cool and dry, while it is hot and dry in March and April. The mountainous areas can be very cold November to February. There is also a monsoon season, usually occurring during the summer months.

Slightly larger than the state of Utah, landlocked Laos is bordered by China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar. The country encompasses the Mekong River, mountains, plains, valleys and forests.

Major Holidays & Events
Laos traditionally celebrates:
January 1, 6 & 20 - New Year's Day, Pathet Day & Army Day
January or February - Chinese New Year
March 8 & 22 - International Women's Day & Day of the People's Party
April 13-15 - Lao New Year (Pi Mai)
May 1 - Labour Day
the 15th day of the waxing moon of the 6th month (usually May) - Vixakha Bouxa (Buddha's Birthday)
June 1 - Children's Day
August 13 - Lao Issara (Day of the Free Laos)
October 12 - Day of Liberation
December 2 - National Day

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