Laos - Tips, Tricks and Things To Do

9 January 2019







After about three weeks in Vietnam we flew to our next destination: Vientiane, Laos. Now, we hadn't heard too much about Laos but considering we were in the area and the photos we'd seen were gorgeous we decided that we couldn't not make a stop there. So, we flew from Hanoi to the capital.

We took the public bus from the airport to the city and thankfully our hostel was very near a bus stop. It was, however, incredibly hard to spot so we did walk up and down the same road multiple times cursing at google maps for not being much help. (Note to self; have a proper look on street view at where your accommodation is before you arrive. It's always hard to navigate a new place, but it's even harder when it's dark.)

We checked into our hostel, which was the most basic of our trip thus far - mattresses on the floor - and headed out for dinner. I had a pork and vegetable stirfry and it was delicious.

The following day we took the public bus to Buddha Park. It took about an hour to get there but was definitely worth it. We spent a while wandering around the park and then climbed up inside the huge Buddha which provided a great view of the entire park.

We then got back on the bus and headed to the mall/market. Here, we had lunch and a bit of a wander before heading to the Patuxai Monument. We paid our entrance fee and then climbed to the top, and oh my, it was a great view of the city.

Following this, we took our first tuk-tuk of the whole trip to That Luang Stupa, where there is a huge gold sleeping Buddha. We then took our tuk-tuk back to the hostel to have a quick nap before heading for dinner at Tyson Kitchen. Here, the food was delicious and the cocktails even better! After dinner, we headed down to the riverside where we came across a huge night market and each bought a few absolute bargains.

Once we'd woken up the following morning, we took a tuk-tuk to the COPE visitor centre. There is still lots of unexploded ordnance in Laos, which, unfortunately, still goes off and injuries many people every year. COPE custom makes (for free) prosthetics for individuals affected by this unexploded ordnance. Wandering around their visitor centre was both a humbling and upsetting experience. We then headed back to the hostel, had some lunch, checked out, and boarded our minibus to the next stop: Vang Vieng. The journey to Vang Vieng was the worst drive of the whole trip. I have never been on roads like it... One girl on our minibus was vomitting out of the window and those sat in the back seats were being absolutely thrown around. But, after four hours we'd made it to our next destination.

We checked into our hostel, and then headed for dinner. In a weird turn of events, we ended up going out clubbing in a club called Sakura. Vang Vieng is a very popular holiday destination with South Koreans, and so all of the clubs play K-Pop. So, we ended up dancing to K-Pop (neither Toria nor I know any songs), drank the worst tasting vodka of our lives and stumbled home at 2am with a souvenir Sakura vest in hand... Not quite the night we had imagined for our third night in sleepy Laos.

The following day we woke up to rain that was NOTHING like we had ever seen before. I know our summertime in the UK is the rainy season in Southeast Asia, but, oh my, does it rain and then some in Laos. We spent the morning chilling before braving the weather for some lunch. We spotted a really cute looking restaurant that ended up being a stoner's paradise - there was a 'happy menu' featuring opium shakes and weed fries. It's safe to say we stayed very clear of allllll of that and opted for some pasta - the ultimate hangover cure.

The rain didn't ease the entire day, and nor was it due to on the forecast for the week, so, after a quick google of the places with the best weather in Southeast Asia we booked some very spontaneous, last minute flights to Malaysia. We figured that we'd rather spend a bit more money and go somewhere that we could properly explore rather than waste the next week or so sheltering from the rain in our hostels... For dinner that evening, we had the most delicious Thai food at Happy Mango, it was incredible! If you're ever in Vang Vieng I would highly recommend paying a visit.

Once we'd woken up, we headed to buy snacks for our upcoming 5 hour bus ride to Luang Prabang. Thankfully, this one wasn't a school minibus and the journey was far more smooth. We did, however, drive through a quarry, a landslide, fog, sun, rain - the lot. We checked into our hostel before heading for dinner at one of the local restaurants. We then headed for drinks at Utopia having heard so much about it both online, in guidebooks and from other people we'd met on our travels. Now, it was nice but it certainly wasn't life-changing...

Breakfast at the hostel the following morning was incredible. We had banana pancakes and they were the best I've ever had - 10/10. We'd booked to go to Kuang Si Waterfall through our hostel, and so after breakfast we were picked up in a minibus and taken there for a few hours. If you google Kuang Si it is absolutely stunning. The most gorgeous turquoise waters, it looks like heaven. What we saw when we arrived was definitely not that. Due to it being rainy season there was just brown water EVERYWHERE and I mean everywhere. The footpaths themselves were waterfalls whereby the water was kneedeep... It was hard to picture it as a calm, serene spot, but it was nice to get out and do something having been trapped in the hostel the previous few days.

That afternoon I took a solo mission to the Royal Palace whilst Toria napped. It was pretty and a good way to learn a lot more about Laos history and culture. That evening we had dinner - I had the best mushroom fried rice ever - and then wandered the night markets. The markets were huge and there were so many different things to look at. Whilst lots of the products were the same as the other markets we'd seen there were also so many other things too. We then headed back to the hostel for an early night ahead of our early rise the following morning.

We set an alarm for 4.50am to go and observe the monks receiving alms and to climb Mount Phousi in time for sunrise. Now, we were most definitely in the wrong place but we did still see a few monks and it was nothing like I'd ever seen before. It really was eye-opening. We then clambered the steps to the top of Mount Phousi but unfortunately, it was really overcast so we didn't really see much of a sunrise. A bit defeated, we headed back to the hostel to sleep some more before setting an alarm for breakfast; a second round of the delicious banana pancakes.

From our hostel, we walked to the UXO visitor centre - another on the unexploded ordnance - before having our last meal in Laos. I had sweet and sour pork and my first Beerlao of the trip - I couldn't leave the country without having one, could I? We then flew to Bangkok, switched planes, and flew onto Malaysia...

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Much much quieter than Vietnam and Thailand, and fewer things to see and do

THINGS TO DO 

Vientiane:- Buddha Park
- Patuxai Monument
- That Luang Stupa 

- COPE Visitor Centre
Vang Vieng: 
- Tubing (which we decided not to do because of the horrendous weather)

- Night Markets
Luang Prabang:
- Kuang Si Waterfall
- Royal Palace
- Mount Phousi
- Watch the Monks Receive Alms.
- UXO Visitor Centre


TIPS AND ADVICE 
- Avoid Kuang Si if it's the height of rainy season 

- Be more covered up, the dress sense is far more conservative in Laos 

- Budget a bit more money, it's more expensive than Vietnam, Thailand etc

WHERE I STAYED & REVIEW

Avalon residence, Vientiane
Very basic but there were cornflakes for breakfast, woop woop

Real Vang Vieng Backpackers Hostel
Good location, has a pool but not the cleanest of hostels

Sunrise Hotel, Luang Prabang
Really relaxed vibe, very popular with backpackers and INCREDIBLE banana pancakes

HOW LONG TO STAY?
A week or a week and a half. We saw the majority of the main sights and felt we'd had a good amount of time there to experience the country!

4 comments

  1. I've never been to Laos but I hope I could someday :) Also, those banana pancakes sound delicious! Hope I get to taste it if I visit the country :)

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    Replies
    1. Aaaah if you get the chance to, do it!! Hahah yes, they were amazing!

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