Wednesday, 28 September 2011
Laos: Do's and Don'ts!
Next up on the tip sharing extravaganza is the beautiful, relaxed country of Laos...
- Give yourself enough time in Luang Prabang. This incredible town, slow-paced and full of wonders, is the perfect spot to lose a week or two, and we wished we had had more time after hitting the sights to just sit back and enjoy the atmosphere.
- Take in the Plain of Jars if archaeology interests you. Although the town of Phonsavan wasn't the nicest we've been to, the enigmatic jars are unique and receive far fewer visitors from the more famous sites. More recent history, present in the form of bomb craters and UXO education, adds a greater understanding of the terrors faced by families across Laos even today.
- Try the wonderful fusion of Laos and French culture through delicious food. Flaky pastries and warm croissants sit alongside more usual SE Asian fare, complementing each other and adding some variety to the normal staples of noodles and rice. Coffee shop life in Vientienne is alive and kicking, and makes for some enjoyable hours wiled away people-watching.
- Feel like you have to follow the crowd. The 'usual' backpacker route seems to travel between Luang Prabang and Vientienne via Vang Vieng, the infamous party town known for tubing and lots of drinking. Whilst we love tubing, we don't love big party atmospheres, and decided to give it a miss. Sure, we could have avoided the big hotspots and set out in search of the gorgeous landscape that Vang Vieng was once known for. But having spoken to a few travellers on the road, it seemed more likely that we'd become frustrated. Everyone has their own travel style, and whilst I completely understand that for some people partying is a way of relaxing, our time overseas is just too short to be spent in a haze! We missed out on what seems like the most popular activity in Laos (judging by the number of t-shirts we saw), and we don't regret it one single bit. Discovering what suits you is one of the exciting aspects of travelling.
- Expect everything to run smoothly. Buses are late, roadslides happen, and Asian motorbikes are most definitely not designed for westerners. Laugh, find a comfortable spot to bunk down in and meet some people. Laos is friendly and welcoming, and around every corner is some guaranteed beautiful scenery to distract you.