Here the Land of a Million Elephants morphs into the land of a million hellish bends and travel is not for the faint-hearted, as the roads twist and turn endlessly through towering mountain ranges and serpentine river valleys. By contrast, most northern towns are functional places, rebuilt after wholesale bombing during the 20th-century Indochina wars.
But visitors aren’t in northern Laos for the towns. It’s all about the rural life. River trips also offer a wonderful way to discover the bucolic scenery as well as a practical alternative to tortuous bus rides.