"Laid Back Laos" Laos by Robmj

Laos Travel Guide: 3,612 reviews and 8,892 photos

Laos is a fairly laid back country, one that contains stunning scenery, friendly people, great villages and the usual (for this part of the world) collection of Wat's.

We journeyed through this country after Cambodia and the constrasts in my opinion were stark. Examples of this include that the Laos countryside was more pristine, certainly less rubbish and filth than in rural Cambodia. The people like Cambodia were friendly, but not in your face and more reserved than their neighbours.

Both places are great to travel to and very very cheap.

We arrived in Vientiane, the capital on a flight from Cambodia. I still smile when I remember the vast quantities of paper work required for Visa formalities. Oh well, at least the Communist Government has opened the country up to visitors.

Vientiane is a nice place to visit. The Nam Phu area is central and you can sit by the Mekong River taking a drink or two of the superb Beerlao. A very pleasant way to take in the sunset.

Vientiane has a considerable amount of attractions to see and you can easily spend a few days here taking it all in. some of the highlights include:

- Pha That Luang (Laos National Monument)
- Patuxal (Arc de Triomphe look-a-like)
- Haw Pha Kaeo (former Royal Temple)
- Wat Si Saket (oldest Wat in Vientiane)

There is lots more to explore however.......if time away from Beerlao allows......

From here, we took a four hour bus trip up to Vang Vieng. This is now pretty much a party town, full of young packpackers doing the tubing down the river thing, which is actually huge fun. Make sure you do this regardless of your age and do stop at the makeshift bars and go on the slides, swings etc, huge fun!

Aside from that however, is the scenery, the Karst hills, lush fields of rice paddies and jungle making a beautiful setting.

We hired scooters and took off driving around the countryside, its a great way to visit the local villages, stop and enjoy a few, plenty of good food and even better Beerlao.

You can even do the tacky "ride an elephant" in this neck of the woods as well. Kayaking, rock climbing and walks are other options.

Vang Vieng has a heap of cheap accommodation in the centre of town or you can live it up at some flash riverside apartments if you want quieter surroundings. Town and party central is only a five minute walk if you do this, so you can get the best of both worlds. I really enjoyed our time in this area.

We opted to hire a private car to take us through the zig zag roads to Luang Prabang. This still took us 5½ hours with a few stops for photos and we could open the car windows for fresh air. I would hate to think how long the bus would take, or if you get motion sickness, you'll be in a spot of bother down this road. Great scenery, absolutely beautiful road trip however.

Luang Prabang is raved about and the town has a nice feel, you can sense this as soon as you arrive. Set at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, the town has enough attractions to keep you busy. In fact it has more Wat's than you can poke a stick at. However, also get out of town, you can visit caves, waterfalls, villages and yes, more elephant riding if thats your thing. A favourite for me was hiring a boat down the Mekong to visit the Kuang Si waterfalls. This is a great place for swimming and taking the boat was a far more enjoyable experience than zooming out there on a Tuk Tuk. Take a Tuk Tuk to the Sae waterfall instead, both are worth visiting.

There is plenty more to do in Laos, I'll have to leave that for another future trip however.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Relaxed place & stunning scenery
  • Last visit to Laos: Oct 2008
  • Intro Updated Jan 10, 2009
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Robmj

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