Serene, rustic, undescended upon by the tourist armadas, Laos is a revelation. The caprices and unnavigable waters of the upper Mekong have allowed Laos to keep its ancient charm largely intact. The country has an exceptionally varied topography, which has led to a multilayered culture. Down south we explore almost-forgotten Khmer temples built long before Angkor. Up north we visit the mysterious Plain of Jars and charming Luang Prabang. And everywhere we hear the chanting of its orange-clad Buddhist monks.