Laos in a few key words? Authentic, unspoiled nature, beautiful waterfalls, mountains, villages and hospitality. If you visit the north of Thailand it is definitely recommended to also visit Laos. Laos is the country where time seem to have stopped, and this beautiful country has not been affected yet by the mass tourism.
What to do in Laos
A cruise on the Mekong, a walk through a Hmong settlement (northeast of Laos), wander from temple to temple in the historic city of Luang Prabang, having a meal on the riverbank in Vientiane capital city or visiting the ancient royal city of Champasak. It doesn’t matter what you do, because everywhere in Laos life happens at the same pace. And that is at its lowest. Besides of that, Laos is 100 % pure; a large part of its nature is still untouched, therefore, many roads are difficult to pass. Accommodation and dining is always at a very low price, and the amounts of experiences are endless.
Vientiane and nature in Laos
Vientiane is located in the West, and by far the largest city in the country. There is no shortage ofnice bars around here! This cosy and still somewhat "sleepy" place is situated on the Mekong River, the main transport artery of the country. In Laos you travel by river boat.
Activities in Laos
Laos is also great for off-trail hiking. Besides and beyond the many unpolished roads there are the widespread rainforests. You can take a bike tour between the many villages and towns that are dotted across the Laos landscape. And if you are a water sports enthusiast, there’s lots of kayaking and canoeing to enjoy.
Boat Trip in Laos
Many visitors start their journey in Laos with a two-day boat trip on the Mekong River by slow boat. A speedboat is not recommended, and if you see them on the river, you’ll understand why. In October you can witness the boatraces on Mekong.
Frankly speaking, the benches onboard are not the softest, but the fact that you can sail on the Mekong River to the ancient Luang Prabang makes it all worth it. Meanwhile, you’ll be exposed to splendid natural surroundings, a variety of hills and mountains, interspersed with the most idyllic fishing villages.
French influences in Laos
Travellers familiar with Thailand, who visit Laos for the first time, are surprised to see that Laotians drive on the right side of the road. Laos used to be under French supervision and you can actually find great baguettes here. The main languages are Lao, French and English, although only few manage English. Laotian people are very friendly, and even if their English skills are low, they are always willing to help you.
Luang Prabang is like a mini-France where everyone bikes. Here you can find French restaurants, croissants, La Vache Qui Rit cheese, and French-speaking Laotians. And they certainly know what great atmosphere is! Travellers who have been here note the big variety of food offered: from wiener schnitzel and cordon bleu to french fries with mayonnaise. Of course, there is also a wide range of rice and noodles if you want to eat like the locals!
Van Vieng is also known as the "backpacker’s village". It is an excellent place to relax and yet be active! The most popular water sport here is definitely 'tubing'. Near the border of Cambodia there’s also the beautiful Li Phi waterfall to be found, the largest waterfall in Asia. The local scenery is painted in luscious greens, the landscape dominated by high irregular karst mountains, overgrown with trees and shrubs.