Talk to people who have been to Laos and chances are they’ll share the travel experiences they had in low-key Luang Prabang or temple-rich Vientiane. Or both. After all, those two places are considered the main draws when it comes to tourist attractions in the country.

But talk to those in the know and chances are you’ll hear other names too, such as the Bolaven Plateau and Si Phan Don and Si Phan and Pakse. Places in the Southern part of the country that no one would argue are off the proverbial grid but rest at the crossroads of three other Southeast Asian countries — Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The region’s appeal also lies there. In and around Pakse, for instance, you’ll explore pre-Angkorian temples, coffee plantations and sustainable tourism projects in wildlife sanctuaries. And you’ll be struck by the lack of urgency.

Same goes for Si Phan Don, a collection of 4,000 islands scattered throughout the lower Mekong River. Here, it’s all about chilling out and breathing the world in — an activity made all the more easy thanks to the fact none of the islands have cars on them. By and large, locals farm coconut, kapok and bamboo, and only turn the electricity on in the evenings.