Overview of My Stay In Laos

It’s been a while since I have written something more substantial in here and I think it’s about the time do to so. After spending just over three weeks in Laos, there are few things I’d like to share with you fine folks. Firstly, have you heard of such country as Laos at all?

Laotian scenery
Laotian scenery

 

I’m sure most of you have, but it wouldn’t surprise me if you didn’t know that a country called Laos ever existed. Myself, had you asked me 3 years ago I wouldn’t have a clue…

Breathtaking view of Laos
Breathtaking view of Laos

 

Laos is an unique country with tragic history, which was mostly caused by its geographical location. Similarly to Poland during the II World War, being between two much stronger countries – Vietnam and Thailand had its bearings on the lives of civilians. Most of the damage was caused by US army during the Vietnam war and now Laos is claimed to be the most bombed country in history.

Laos

Now, the country is scarcely populated and even though wars ended decades ago, people still die every day from unexploded ordnances (UXO). With over 80 million scattered across Laos, many kids and farmers stumble upon them every day.

A lady selling grilled rats
A lady selling grilled rats

 

Cluster bombs are still a huge problem and there are a few organisations clearing them and helping victims. One of them, called COPE, helps people who lost their limbs by stumbling upon one of the bombs. During my time in Vientiane I have not visited their free museum and I really feel guilty about it. I hope to get another opportunity.

Traveling by local transport
Traveling by local transport

 

When I finally came to see Laos I was greeted with laid back attitude of both locals and backpackers. My path through the country focused on the most touristy places, and I think it was a mistake. I have been to Don Det, Pakse, Vientiane, Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang. I met amazing people, did thing I have never done before and seen sceneries that seem like taken from some kind of fantasy movie, but I apart from two occasional have not felt the kindness from local people .

Getting a ride from a local pal
Getting a ride from a local pal

 

It has to be said that Laos became some kind of “Backpackers’ Heaven”, but we’re talking here about young people wearing backpacks and getting drunk every day. Vang Vieng, which up to few months ago, was a world’s capital of insanely stupid parties, attracts a lot of people looking just for this. Local people stopped smiling and started counting, treating newcomers the way you would treat ATM – with nothing but but the mere request for more money. Although this has spread to most touristy places, thankfully it’s not everywhere.

Back-flip in Vang Vieng
Back-flip in Vang Vieng

 

I had a great opportunity to meet amazing people both traveling and living their whole lives in Laos. I had the best moments with local people when a group of guys spontaneously invited  to join their party in Vientiane, and when I was hitch-hiking my way from Pakse to Cambodia. Not a long distance, but when you change a tractor every few kilometers  it takes time and allows you to speak (or try to) with many good people.

IMG_0726

My observation is simple: when there’s a lot of “backpackers” around you in Laos, no one will smile to you, but once you’re on your own, something clicks and changes, for the better.

A bunch of travellers I met
A bunch of travellers I met

 

In terms of prices, Laos is more expensive than Cambodia. Cheapest dorm in Vientiane costs 30,000 Kip ($3.7), Luang Prabang 35,000 Kip ($4.40) Vang Vieng 20,000 Kip ($2.5), and bungalow in Don Det 30,000 ($3.75). Food prices start at 10,000 Kip ($1.25) but in some places you will be lucky to find something at this rate. For those who like to drink, beer Lao (the most popular) costs 10,000 Kip or more, but you can find it for 9,000 Kip. Lao Lao, a local whiskey, seems to be cheaper than water, but I’m not sure what are the effects of consumption on health. When in Laos, don’t throw away empty water bottles, most if not all guest houses offer free refills.

For whatever reason you’re going to Laos, beauty of its scenery is hard to describe.

Laos scenery

I simply fell in love with the mountainous areas of Northern Laos. I’m scared of heights and lately of sand on the road (after a crash on Koh Phangan), which makes the journey from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang a scary journey. I feared for my life and couldn’t get my eyes off the bus window at the same time. Of course there was no apparent reason to worry. The roads are in good state, and although bus zigzags its way in the mountains, most drivers are experiences and now equipped with better vehicles than few years ago.

What have I done that I have never done before? Well, I have never before done rock climbing or tubing.

Rock climbing
Rock climbing

Rock climbing in Laos

While the latter was nothing special apart from meeting great people, the former gave me an experience I did not expect. Rock climbing is not an easy sport, physically demanding and dangerous. I have mentioned before that I have fear of heights, so climbing to the top is one thing, and the other is getting back down. Once on the top, I had to let go of my grip to the rocks and just trust the instructor. Looking down below me didn’t help. I’ve done it once, then another time, and in total 5 times. I can’t wait to do it again and to go there with Agness to see whether she likes it too. If she does, then maybe we can start training this together :D!!

This post was originally published in
About Cez

I'm a tramp from Poland, travelling the world for less than $25 a day. I left my comfort zone in 2011 with just $400 and one-way ticket to Asia. Still going and blogging. Follow me on my journey by clicking on the buttons below.


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32 Comments

  • Wow – I had no idea that Laos is more expensive than Cambodia! Unexpected. This is a great overview of the country. Can’t wait to get there myself!
    Happy Holidays, Cez!

    • Hey Dear Lady :D

      I’m sure you’ll find the places where it’s cheaper than Phnom Penh, to which you are used, but the main spots are more expensive. It’s not far from you, so you need to go when you get some time off. This is certainly a great country and experience.

      Happy Holidays to you too! Merry Christmas,
      Cez

  • So far Laos was the country with the most amazing nature from among countries I’ve visited. It seemed like time was standing still in there. I gave up Van Vieng, didn’t have much time and wasn’t sure if I would like this place.

    • I think in some places the time stands still indeed. I think you will like Vang Vieng more now than if you went last time. Incredible scenery and activities you can go for.

      See you soon in China :D

      Safe travels and Merry Christmas!

  • Laos is no longer under the radar. It certainly has a lot to offer, and, from what I have read, it seems much less touristy than Thailand. It, along with Cambodia, is high on my list of places I want to go. I think the 1,000 Islands area sounds particularly cool.

    • What I’d say to you Erik is to go as soon as possible. Both Laos and Cambodia change at a record breaking speed. Thankfully views will stay intact for much longer. Don Det (4000 Islands) is worth seeing, but it slowly becomes a “second Vang Vieng” with people going there to relax and smoke weed.

      Please tell me when you’re coming round to Asia and it would be great to meet up :D

      Merry Christmas, enjoy your time with Family Erik :D

  • Loved the account of your journey in this beautiful country. I have been to Japan, but the far east is still begging to be explored. Starting with Thailand in 2013. Keep the faith, Cez!

    • When you come over, I hope we can meet. Are you planning to come to China? Thanks Teresa, nothing will break my faith :D Merry Christmas and speak to you soon :D

  • Just spent a week in Luang Prabang last month. Absolutely loved it. I found it a really relaxing place to restore. I can’t wait till I can go back and see more of the country.

    • Thanks Sarah for stopping by. I am heading to Laos in the first week of January. Cez promised to take me there for my birthday. I really can’t see what Laos has to offer too!

  • Laos indeed a fun place to visit specially Vang Vieng, we only spent 2 weeks in Laos and would love to go back.

    Safe travel

  • It’s such a shame I’ve never explored Laos having to live in Indonesia almost all my life. Looking at your post, think I’ll have to explore it once I’m back in SEA! Great post Cez!

    • Believe me or not, I’ve never explored Laos either. It’s so close to Thailand where I have been to about 3 times, so it’s been a real shame. Really regret it when looking at Cez’s photos.

  • Stumbled upon your site today, it’s such a delight to read your blogs. You two free spirits gave me lots of information about backpacking in Southeast Asia.Thank you for sharing your stories. Cheers greetings from Chengdu, China!

    • Hey Ke! Thanks for stopping by. So happy to hear that. We are going to China – Chonging in a few days, hope to see you there!

      • To Chongqing again? Wow! Are you guys planning to visit Chengdu? I’m not sure my schedule allow me to go to Chongqing. It will cost me about 5 hours to Chongqing one way, cause I’m not actually live in Chengdu city proper. Keep me posted OK?

      • Hey! We don’t know yet if we are going to visit Chengdu, but of course we will keep you posted. We know where it is and will let you know mate :):)

  • I love this post, Laos is one of my favourite travel destinations. I backpacked through it 13 years ago (makes me feel so old :-) ) and I still think about it today. Such a unique and beautiful country.

    • Hey Mariza,

      It’s a waterfall near 4000 Islands. I don’t think this photo shows how enormous the fall is. You’d be stunned to see it all and I strongly recommend going there and seeing it for yourself. Or probably you have already been there :) Thanks for stopping by.

      Happy travels,
      Cez

  • Looks like you had a sweet time in Laos, Cez! It’s definitely one of my favourite countries – I love it and hugely looking forward to going back early this year. Great roundup of some of the awesome stuff you can get up to there! Are you guys in Asia at the moment?

    • Hey Tom! We are currently in China. Are you somewhere near? Let us know if you visit China in the future. Would be awesome to meet up.

  • Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience in Laos. I seldom stumble upon blogs that talk about backpacking to Laos so yours really got my attention. It is surprising that Laos is more expensive than Cambodia when it comes to accommodations, just had an impression that laid back places (or tourist destinations) is equal to more affordable hotel rates.

  • Wow yet again beautiful (and amazing!) scenery! Cool rock climbing shots. Something I wanted to try in Thailand but never got around to it – whoops!

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