Tucked between Thailand and Vietnam is this amazing little country of Laos. The laid-back culture of many of its cities is a draw for most tourists. Over the past few years, Laos has been increasing in popularity. Tourism is quickly becoming Laos’ fastest growing sector.
Amazing temples, rolling landscapes, and unique experience is what you should expect in this country. In this country, make sure to travel consciously. Respect their cultures and let them do their daily routine. Lately, tourists have been cited to interrupting the buddhist monks during their prayers. Be interested in learning their culture, but do not get in the way. Support the culture, don’t change it.
Top Things to Do
- Culture in Luang Prabang – The entire ancient city of Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is filled with temples and monks and is the epicenter of Laos religious scene. The night market is amazing and is a great place to experience local cuisine at the same time supporting the local economy. As stated above, you are a guest to this nation, so treat it as you are a guest.
- Tubing – Once a crazy festival of over 20 bars and cliff jumping, it is now a more relax tubing session. Located in the city of Vang Vieng, this is where the tubing takes place. Because of recent deaths and accidents, there are only about 4 bars along the river and it is a more relaxed scene. There are no cliff jumping or swings on the river. Although it has changed a lot in the past 10 years, it is still a destination that is fun.
- Friends in Vang Vieng – In the touristic tubing town, they play Friends reruns all day, every day. Relax in the city. Grab a nice comfy spot on a couch at a restaurant, order up a fresh fruit shake, and watch some Friends. Careful, it is easy to spend the entire day at one of these joints.
- Trek – There are numerous companies that offer jungle trekking through the forest. This is a great chance to experience and see local village life. Beware, some of these companies take your to villages that see tourists multiple times a day. Others, take you to more off the path routes. These are the ones to find. A great way to explore the beautiful countryside.
- Rock Climbing – With the rolling hills and mountains, this is a rock climbers paradise. There are many companies that offer day trips climbing. They know exactly where the great spots are and it is a fun day trip.
- Kuang Waterfall – Just outside of Luang Prabang is these beautiful pools and waterfalls. There are natural pools where you can jump off trees and swim in the fresh water. At the top is an amazing waterfall. Most hotels offer tours to this spot or rent a motorbike and check it out.
The food in Laos is very similar to the food in Northern Thailand. There are a lot of spicy soups and curries. I ate most of my meals in the local markets of all the cities. This is where you get the authentic food of the country. Also, it is usually made with love. As with any market, careful to make sure your food and sauces are fully cooked. I am a firm believer street food is safe, but just have to ensure cleanliness by looking at the stall and ensure all water in sauce is boiled.
Overall Country Cost – $ (1/4)
Hostels – $5 – $10 USD per person
3 Star Hotel – $40 – $80 USD
Breakfast – $1 – $4
Lunch – $2 – $6
Dinner – $2 – $8
Ten Day Trip – Your main entrance point will Vientiane wether you fly or bus from Thailand. Spend a few days here seeing and experiencing the big city life. Next, take a bus to Luang Prabang and experience the culture. From here, go on a multi day trek to experience the rural count ride. After this, head back down to Vang Vieng to relax with the TV show Friends and do some tubing. After a few days in this sleepy town, head back to Vientiane to her dot you next spot!
Note: In northern Laos there is amazing landscapes and cities. In the Southeast Laos, there are amazing places. I have never been, but pictures are amazing. I would recommence the 10 day trip and if time permits, explore more. These places will be magic because they are off the beaten tourist path. The next time in Laos, I will skip the main loop and head straight to the South East side of the country to explore. It is always fun to go places that are not on the main tourist pass.