How to Spend a Week Exploring Wonderful Laos

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Next on the great South East Asia backpacking trip was Laos. This was similar having just come from the Thailand Northern region. Laos is a landed-locked country meaning no beaches to explore. This was okay. I’m here to explore the culture. From first impressions, everyone was happy and very welcoming. A common theme throughout Asia. The first impressions didn’t change.

Luang Namtha – The Laos Town Next to the Thai Border Crossing

This northern Laos province was full of jungle and peaceful. It was located on the Nam Tha River. This town wasn’t covered by tourists. The quiet streets were a welcome relief. Here, you can opt to zipline through the jungle. If you chose. We went for a more relaxing kayaking experience.

The River Nam Tha, in Luang Namtha, Laos
The Nam Tha River

The guides were two early-20s boys and a small group of 6 tourists including us. The first stop was the market to pick up some fresh fish, rice, and vegetables for lunch. The peaceful kayak down the Nam Tha River was very enjoyable. The banks were lined with booming green trees and plants.

Where to Eat Lunch Along This Laos River? Spoilt for Choice…

For lunch, we stopped along the river. a swimming spot too. That was a blessing as the sun was out in full force. Nice to cool off. The fish was cooked on an open fire. Don’t ask me what fish we had. I couldn’t tell you. However, it was so tasty and just flaked straight off the bone. Perfect views and perfect lunch!

Me eating the fresh fish for lunch on the banks of the Nam Tha River in Luang Namtha, Laos
A Delicious Lunch

The second part of kayaking was a little trickier in places as the water shallowed. However, that meant we did get stuck. Luckily, for us, it was only twice on some rocks. Easy. No problem.

The Second Stop… Luang Prabang!

Luang Prabang is a very popular stop along the backpackers’ route through Asia. To reach here from Namtha was the most unpleasant bus ride to date. The journey was non-stop bumpy. We choose cheap to mid-range buses depending on the length of the journey. This one was a mini-bus. But still not comfortable.

The Mekong River is normally a popular way to travel from Thailand to Laos. It takes something like three days on a wooden plank to sit upon. We didn’t have the time to do this route but apparently, it is amazing.

Witnessing the Alms Giving Ceremony…

Luang Prabang was home to the easiest to witness the Giving of the Alms ceremony. The Alms ceremony is a long-standing tradition in Laos Buddhist religion. People line the streets to give offerings of food to the monks. It takes place at dawn as the sun starts to rise. A must-do to experience their culture.

Alms Giving Cremony in Luang Prabang
Witnessing an Alms Giving Ceremony

Also, we took a tuk-tuk bus to explore some waterfalls. These tuk-tuk style buses leave when they are full. So, the more people you can gather the quicker you leave. These are a must in Luang Prabang and when staying at hostels it won’t take you long to get a crowd. They are a truly magnificent part of nature.

A Bus Ride to Vang Vieng

A hillside view from the bus ride to Vang Vieng from Luang Prabang
A View from a Pit Stop on Our Way to Vang Vieng

The favourite town among backpackers. Once there you will see why. This town is 4 hours north of the capital Vientiane. The Nam Song River runs one side of town. This river is popular for tubing. Basically, floating down the river in a rubber inner tire tube. You can rent them there. Also, with the rental, a bus will pick you up and take you back in time.

This is a dangerous thing to do. Fun though. When we went they had stricter rules. Only four bars per day are open. There were too many drunk people making bad decisions. You can rope swing or jump into the river, however, the water is shallow. Therefore, accidents were happening. I am not sure if any of the bars are there now. We went back in 2015.

The Night Life in Vang Vieng…

The other reason backpackers flock to this otherwise sleepy town. Laos has an 11 pm curfew. Everything closes down. Yet, if you time your night you can hop from bar to bar for happy hour. Free Laos Whiskey. Again, a dangerous game. Alcohol is cheap across Asia. This place is fun and when you get to know people there is always an unground party happening. We spent about three nights dancing the night away. Good times.

The cave rock in the middle of a field in Vang Vieng, Laos
Hiking to Explore Some Caves in Vang Vieng

It was hard not to say no. remember, to stay with people you know and not take drinks from strangers. Yes, in Thailand I got drugged. Lucky for me, I was with my friend. The drugs were meant for her. We switched drinks. She is a lightweight. I drank a little then I couldn’t tell you what happened. So please be aware.

Summary of Wonderful Laos

I didn’t know much going in. This is one of the poorer countries in Asia but they are so happy. You can’t help but be happy and relaxed. Laos is definitely up there as one of my favourites. So many temples to explore, waterfalls, jungle, and rivers. The time here can be well spent getting to know the local culture just as we did when we weren’t drinking and dancing the nights away.

Next Stop Vietnam…

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