We spent about a month in Laos, traveling from the northern most part of the country in Luang Nam Tha all the way down to the 4000 islands in the south.
Just like the roads in Laos, our trip was an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs, but even though we have had a lot of unfortunate situations, Laos as a country was an amazing place to visit.
Here is what we think sums up Laos and what we will remember the most:
The small conversations or smiles exchanged are the most precious things we will take away with us from this place.
The children were so curious, you couldn’t walk ten meters without someone saying hello, child or adult, especially in the smaller more remote villages.
Even though we stayed in shabby guesthouses we left loving the place because of its owners.
It’s not the land of smiles, but the people are SO real, they don’t put up an act for tourists at all but were genuine.
… are not meant to fit tall people.
After every bus ride it felt like we had shrunken a foot by just trying to squeeze our legs into the tiny gaps between the seats, and the beds in the night buses were half our length!
Of course we can understand this as there are no Lao people our height, but it was always a mission trying to survive those bumpy crazy bus rides.
The view from the bus window is strikingly beautiful and you’ll pass tribe villages along the way, but remember to drop your jaw behind a closed window!
For some reason the bus drivers seemed to prefer having all the windows open (even in air con vans), so bring a scarf to cover your mouth with because the roads are very dusty and you can get really sick from getting too much dust in your lungs (Sofia did…).
We had the best Indian curries ever in this country, and unlike Thailand – the Indian food here is really cheap, but the Lao food didn’t impress us too much, perhaps because we are vegetarian.
However, the French-inspired cuisine was really good.
It was a nice combination between French and Lao style food; the baguettes and burgers were filled with typical Lao vegetables and Lao style omelette’s (you have to try the pumpkin burgers!).
In Vientiane, the capital city, there are a lot of western bakeries selling some of the best pastries and cakes we tried while in South East Asia, for a great price as well.
Even without the condensed milk (how will we be able to live without it?) it was still sweet enough for a non-coffee drinker like us to finish in minutes.
The best coffee was found in the southern Laos, close to the coffee plantations.
Oh, and if you’re looking for the best banana fruit shake in SEA you will find it in the restaurant next to the Reggae bar on Don Det, it’s simply the best!
…is a struggle to find. To be brief and blunt, we’d go as far as saying that there is no such thing as comfort here.
This is something you have to expect and accept when in Laos.
Laos is not Malaysia or Thailand, Laos is Laos and the roads are full of crater like holes, the Wi-Fi is still non existent and the tourism is still pretty new.
This is part of the charm of Laos …
The absolute best scenery we found was in the northern regions around Luang Namtha.
Vang Vieng had some incredible nature, with the steep limestone cliffs dipping its feet in the flowing river.
The 4000 islands was also a lushoious place, one of those where you just lie in a hammock taking the views in for hours on end, watching the Mekond water change color throughout the day.
Reclined seat and air con, or plastic chair in the aisle and open windows?
Cold water hose 50 meters away from the room or hot shower in attached bathroom?
“Same same!”, they say.
We loved it in a way, it shows how things don’t have to be complicated. A seat is a seat, the point is that you get there, right?
These are our experiences of Laos, they’re not facts.
Have you ever been to Laos? What were your experiences?