Kip (₭) (LAK)
Laos is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, and the Mekong River runs the length of the country, serving as its lifeline. Most people visit the country as part of a wider trip in the region, often entering from Thailand and following the Mekong further south. However, Laos alone rewards further exploration, and with a little more time it’s not hard to feel like you’re visiting places where few Westerners venture. Stretching from the forest-clad mountains of the north to the islands of the far south, there’s enough here to keep you occupied for weeks, and still feel as though you’d barely scratched the surface.
The higher elevations of Laos are populated by colorfully dressed hill tribes, while in the lowland river valleys, coconut palms sway over the Buddhist monasteries of the ethnic Lao. Laos also retains some of the French influence it absorbed during colonial days: the familiar smell of freshly baked bread and coffee mingles with exotic local aromas in morning markets, and many of the old shophouses of its larger towns now (appropriately) house French restaurants.