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Laos: Fascinating facts about country with cheapest alcohol in the world

Laos is a Southeast Asian country traversed by the Mekong River and known for mountainous terrain, French colonial architecture, hill tribe settlements and Buddhist monasteries.

Vientiane, the capital, is the site of the That Luang monument, where a reliquary reportedly houses the Buddha’s breastbone, plus the Patuxai war memorial and Talat Sao (Morning Market), a complex jammed with food, clothes and craft stalls.

READ ALSO: Bhutan: Fascinating facts about country that prohibits killing animals, birds

Oldest modern human fossil  

An ancient skull was discovered in the Tam PaLing Cave in the north of Laos as well as an even older jawbone which is at least 46, 000 years old.

The discovery provided substantial evidence that ancient hominids wandered down inland riverbeds, rather than only migrating from African coastlines as originally assumed.

The discovery also suggests that ancient people from Africa inhabited varied habitats far earlier than previously believed.

Most bombed place one earth

United States bombings on Laos during the Vietnam War where for nine years, the US dropped more than two million tons of bombs across Laos.

30 per cent of these bombs didn’t explode, resulting in most of Laos’ land being unfeasible for agriculture.

Till today hundreds of Laotians are injured or killed as a result of bombs and grenades that get accidentally discovered.

Sticky rice 

The versatile national staple, sticky rice, is consumed in Laos more than anywhere else on planet earth.

Eaten traditionally with their hands, served sweet, fermented or sour, 155 kilograms of this national dish is consumed per Laotian every year.

In fact, Laotians commonly refer to themselves as ‘luk khao niaow’ which aptly translates to ‘descendants of sticky rice’.

Islands

Although Laos is a completely landlocked country, in the south of the country lies one of the most incredible natural attractions en route of the powerful Mekong River – Si Phan Don.

Si Phan Don is more commonly known as The 4000 Islands.

These spectacular islands abound with powdery shores and turquoise waves meaning that a tropical beach holiday in Laos is an excellent choice for beach bums.

Magic crater lake

Nong Fa Lake – a stunning volcanic lake found in Laos, is shrouded in legends, respect and fear.

The Laotians refuse to swim or bathe in the waters as they believe that the lake is home to a giant snake-pig that will consume any who dare to wade into its depths.

Translated directly to ‘sky lake’, Nong Fa is assumed to be around 78 meters deep although locals cannot be sure as attempts to measure the depths with bamboo poles have proven to be unsuccessful.

Wildlife

The lush jungles of Laos are home to a stunning abundance of wildlife and this country is the breeding grounds for King Cobras, white-cheeked gibbons, tigers, Asian black bears.

Other wild animals include sambar deer, sun bears, leopards and leopard cats.

Night safaris at the biodiverse Nam Et-Phou Louey National Biodiversity Conservation Area (NBCA) offer visitors the chance to spot some of the shyer, nocturnal animals.

Cheap liquor

Lao-Lao is a potent rice-whiskey made in Laos that sells for less than a dollar per litre!

Easily located in any corner store, mom-and-pop shop, or market across the country, the spirit is the cheapest in the world.

However, the spirit tastes to downing a bottle of methylated spirits and has caused blindness in very rare cases.

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Only landlocked country in Southeast Asia

Referred to as ‘land-linked’ rather than ‘land-locked’, Laos is an independent republic in Southeast Asia bordered by northeast Thailand, west Vietnam and is surrounded by Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Thailand and Vietnam.

Historically being land-locked has been considered to be a disadvantage as countries are cut off from sea trade, fishing and international importing and exporting.

The Lao government, however, has recently been advocating the perception that Laos is a land bridge which can offer the most direct land transport routes between its neighbours.

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