If you ever make it to Southeast Asia, make sure you don’t skip Laos. It’s a breathtaking country which surprises most of its visitors (mainly backpackers) with a great variety of attractions, from isolated beaches to wildlife-filled forests.
Although Laos is one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia, it has something more valuable than money – stunning landscapes and hospitable locals. It’s a mountainous and landlocked country famous for its great location as it shares borders with Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, Thailand to the west, and Myanmar and China to the north.
Here are my top five reasons why you should add Laos to your bucket list:
1 Unforgettable food
Laotian food is a great mixture of Vietnamese and Thai cuisines. The dishes are always served fresh and they are a bit spicy and sour, so everyone with a penchant for chilli and sugar will be satisfied.
The cuisine has many regional variations. For example, in the area of Vientiane you can enjoy delicious French baguettes whereas in Pakse you can taste one of the best curries in the world.
The staple food is steamed sticky rice, which is eaten by hand. It’s incredibly nutritious and yummy; best to try it at the street vendors. The most famous Lao dish is Larb. It contains spicy grilled meat or fish with a variable combination of herbs, greens, and spices.
2 Incredible wild landscapes
Laos will welcome you with its breathtaking scenery and landscapes that are wild and unpredictable, and still undiscovered. You can explore Laos’ forests or hike the 100 Waterfalls Trek, which provides a short introduction to the wonders the country has to offer.
3 Affordable prices
Are you travelling with an extremely tight budget? Great – add Laos to your travel list! Believe it or not, but Laos can be explored for less than $10 a day if you really want to. There are hostels which cost only $1 or $2 a night, meals at prices that are not higher than $1, and you can do plenty of free activities such as temple hopping or hiking the mountains. Moreover, you can take advantage of the laid-back vibe on the country’s beaches, sleep in a hammock in the middle of the Laotian jungle, or enjoy a free beer with the locals!
4 Smiley locals
Locals in Laos greet backpackers with open arms and a big smile upon their faces. They are extremely friendly and hospitable. We were both happily surprised to see how rich their culture was and how so many people were still living according to their old traditions. Although Laos is not commonly known as the Land of Smiles, locals are so special and very genuine in their own way – they really make sure you feel like you’re at home.
Laotian children running across the streets are just the sweetest! Their doll faces and curious eyes are simply irresistible so I bet you will never stop taking photos of them. They are always curious about foreigners, so smile, laugh and say hello!
Many backpackers head to Laos to experience tubing, where an individual rides on top of an inner tube on water. Tubing is very common in Vang Vieng and is a great way to meet people (fellow travellers as well as locals), have fun and go completely wild. Just imagine yourself floating down the river in an inflatable rubber tube whilst guzzling a beer!
Have you ever been to Laos? If so, what was your first impression?
Meet the eTramping crew – Agness and Cez – best friends and travel companions from Poland. They are sharing their budget travel tips on how to travel the world with $25 in your pocket. Since 2011, they have been travelling the world while teaching English in different Asian countries such as China, Thailand and Cambodia. They are both photography passionate and obsessed with Chinese cuisine and culture.