Travel Laos – Why you should think of it
Probably like many other solo travellers, to travel Laos was absolutely not planned for me. The travel mate I met in Cambodia offered me to go with him on a road trip in Laos, and that’s how it began. I have to say, I wasn’t convinced at first. To travel Laos seemed difficult, according to my information. Roads appeared to be in bad shape, the infrastructures to be not well developed, the locals to not talk English, and it wasn’t a destination known by many other solo travellers.
To travel Laos seemed to have a pretty bad reputation. Due mainly to the fact that not many tourists go there. And that’s why it’s such a worthy place to visit!
For sure, roads and infrastructures are not as developed as in Cambodia, Vietnam or Thailand. You’ll have to be even more careful when riding a bike. Bus journeys are not very comfortable, and they are quite long. Locals also don’t talk much English.
Though, it’s totally possible to travel Laos. With patience, tolerance, common sense of security, and an open mind. Locals can be very friendly, and invite you at their homes, as we experimented it in Pakse. Landscapes are unique: very different from Cambodia, reminding the northern mountains of Vietnam. Untouched and yet not impacted by mass tourism, Laos’ Nature is rough, very impressive.
The backpacking community in Laos is perfect if you are, like me, not a fan of loud crowds. In cities like Vientiane, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang or on 4k islands, travellers are there to chill, to do party also, but not as agitated as in Thailand or Australia. People traveling Laos tend also to be more mature in age than other typical solo travel destinations in Asia or Australia.
What to do in Laos?
- Trips in the Nature – Backpacking Laos is definitely made for Nature lovers. City life isn’t what you’re looking for here. But you won’t get bored traveling across Laotian jungle, the northern wild mountains, or rough waterfalls.
- Nature photography – Since the Nature is stunning, it’s also the occasion for beginner photographers to practice, with very good chances of getting cool snapshots from the start! A bit like in new Zealand, the sceneries are very inspiring.
- Partys at Vang Vieng – There might not be as many travellers in Laos as in Vietnam or Thailand, but some places are hotspots for meeting other globe-trotters. Vang Vieng, especially in high season, is a reputated spot to dance on electro beats along the river at night. At low season, it’s relaxed and I really liked the ambiance of bars alongside the river.
- Locals’ encounters in Pakse – Maybe because Laotian people are still not used to tourists, most of them are curious about you. Even if the communication in English is adventurous, locals are mostly friendly. You might have the chance, like us in Pakse, to meet some unique locals. They invite you into their home, show you their city… and even invite you to their New Year celebrations.
How to travel Laos
That’s an easy answer: by bus! Alternatively by motorbike, for some hidden places on countryside paths. Alike Cambodia, the bus (or vans, mini-busses) is definitely the most (if not the only) way to travel Laos. Most roads are in a quite bad shape, making journeys significantly long. Comparable to Vietnam, be patient when traveling Laos and don’t underestimate distances when building your road trip itinerary.
The motorbike is another beloved way to move around, by locals or tourists. It lets you reach hidden places in the mountains and cross villages. So, it’s also a great way to explore the authentic Laos. Though, be very careful on the paths, as they are mostly slippery.