A place not always heard of but a firm favorite on the southeast Asia backpacker trail, it is land-locked with Thailand to the west, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia down south and big ole China to the north, meaning it has to import a lot of its produce, which does raise the costs. It is a poor and pretty undeveloped country and unfortunately I didn’t spend that much time there on my first trip to Asia, mainly sticking to a couple of weeks in the North, I came into Laos from Thailand, and exited onto Vietnam, however I would definatley love to return and complete a motorbike tour of the south!
SO WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT TO SPEND THERE?
ACCOMMODATION – with it becoming a more and more popular destination, despite the slow decline of the infamous tubing in Vang Vieng, there are more and more options of where to stay. Dorm rooms were generally around 30,000-40,ooo kip (about £3 GBP), and a private room with en-suite would put you back about 80,000-120,000 kip (£7-12).
Some of the hostels I stayed in in Laos were:
FOOD – I personally was slightly let down by the food in Laos, although still nice a lot of the dishes had the same lemon taste, and I remember a long wait for the majority of my meals out. Don’t get me wrong, I love food so was happy to wait, it was just quite different to the rest of South east Asia where the food is in front of you before you’ve even finished ordering it (may be over exaggerating). The costs in restaurants were around 20,000 Kip for local food, and 40,000 Kip for western dishes, so still pretty cheap for the amount of food you get
GETTING AROUND – pretty straightforward in the main destinations, you’ve got your tuk-tuks which are usually around 30-50,000 kip. We got the 2 day slow boat arranged in Pai which took us to Luang Prabang, these type of packages are pretty much offered everywhere in Pai and Chaing Mai//Rai and are pretty similar in price, they include the bus from Pai, both days boat travel down the Mekong river, and an overnight stay and breakfast, well worth doing if you have the time, from what I remember I think it was around the 1,600-1,800 THB (around £36) mark. I really found it to be one of those times where the fun was in the journey and not just the destination, we met a few friends on the boat that we stayed with throughout the rest of Asia.
WHAT SHALL I DO THERE? – well the waterfalls in Luang Prabang are a must-do, they are just gorgeous! You can get a big tuk-tuk there from town for around 30,000 kip, which split between a group of you is a bargain. There is a little animal enclosure there too which holds bears, but the main thing are the falls, and the pools you can swim in. Luang Prabang has lovely temples, the Royal Palace, markets, not that we saw any there because it was Songkram for the entire of our visit. From Luang Prabang I believe there are several group tour activities in the jungle, where you stay for a few days, and zip-wire and sleep up in the trees, I want to say it’s called the Gibbon Experience, but may be wrong! There’s plenty of space and road to hit if motorbiking is your thing. Generally from what I saw there is a lot of lovely architecture and buildings to look at on your wanders. And of course, the infamous tubing in the Vang Vieng, although not as crazy as it used to be, it is still a fun day out. I remember there being around 4 or 5 bars left down the river, so a shadow of its former self, but ultimately that was due to safety and how many people hurt hurt and died out on the river. Tubing cost around55,000 Kip for the hire of your ring, and then a 60,000 deposit in case you don’t return it!