Written by Ophelie
Published 30th March 21
Will take 4mn to read
Travel Laos, me? Is it safe to travel there as a solo traveller? And other questions on the mind? If yes, stick with me. I tell you more about this awesome country, with its bunch of good… and sometimes bad surprises! What’s awesome and what sucks when travelling Laos – let’s find it out. As spoiler: Laos is definitely a great destination!
Should you travel Laos? What's cool and what sucks!
- 5 awesome reasons to travel to Laos
- Laos’ landscapes
- Safety for travellers in Laos
- For a travel on a budget
- Off the beaten track
- Cultural traveling in Laos
- Travel to Laos and its challenges
- Language barrier
- Roads and transportation: quite difficult
- Long hours between two destinations
- Be ready to adapt yur plans at the last minute
Average budget for a solo travel in Laos
10 to 25$ a day, on a budget
1.000 Kip = 0.11$
Why should you travel in Laos? 4 good reasons, based on my own experience.
When a travel mate in Vietnam asked me to join him on a trip to Laos, I thought firstly that backpacking Laos wasn’t for me. Too less made for travellers, lack of safety… misconceived ideas came to my mind.
Luckily for me, I chose to give it a chance… and it became my favourite travel destination in South East Asia! So, why to travel Laos? Explanation!
You should visit Laos for its incredible Nature
Do you know the movie Avatar? Well, if yes, it’s the kind of scenery you can expect while traveling Laos! Especially the Northern Laotian mountains: they are just incredible. When coming from Vientiane and reaching Viang Vieng by bus, you enter into another world. Landscapes are untouched – High chains of mountains, covered by tropical vegetation and rainforests, rice fields with golden tons… or even hidden caves to explore all by yourself!
You’ll travel through villages nested between abrupt mountains, wild rivers and rice fields. Life there is tranquille, maybe just interrupted sometimes by Chinese tourists driving around in quads.
I loved the lagoons in the North: turquoise waters and green oasis, lost in the mountains. Or the giant Buddhist statues in caves, with no one else but you. Basically, you can go to any nature gem you want, and often for free. As long as you’re not afraid of driving on quite bad roads, but it’s doable if you drive carefully.
If you want to start backpacking Laos in the South, landscapes are a bit different. In southern Laos, you’ll find islands, the bigger town Pakse, nice waterfalls.
Why to travel to Laos is obvious, also for photographers. The beauty and diversity of landscapes are a great playground for nature photography.
Is is safe to travel Laos? On the whole, yes!
Are you worried about safety while visiting Laos? It’s a normal question to ask as a solo traveller. And safety is a very important thing to check before any trip. Be reassured: it’s safe to travel to Laos. Travel destinations in South East Asia tend to be safe for female solo travellers and backpackers in general. Laos isn’t an exception.
Of course, your common sense should apply! Avoid going out alone at night, keep an eye on your belongings and the essential at any time with you or safe in a hotel room (passport, money, credit cards…). I travelled twice to Laos, for a total of 2 months, and I encountered really no safety issue! Locals in Laos are friendly. They’ll help you if they can. If you want to get general travel advices about visiting Laos, take a look at this simple list.
Why to travel to Laos? If you want a cheap trip!
A trip to Laos is a very good idea, both for experiencing something totally different than the usual… and also for keeping your wallet happy!
Solo travel destinations in South East Asia begin to raise prices, due to their increasing popularity among travellers and backpackers. But luckily, Laos is still the outsider! A bit cheaper than Cambodia and Vietnam, you should make it with a reasonable budget.
Travel Laos: my budget for common spendings
Exploring, eating and sleeping at nice places in Laos is very doable, as traveller on a budget. Touristy destinations like Luang Prabang might cost a bit more.
– Accommodation in Laos: from 4$ at hostels to 40$ at hotels. Accommodation in Luang Prabang, hot spot for tourists in Laos, is a bit more expensive. Find here quick travel tips about Luang Prabang.
– Eating and drinking in Laos: from less than 1$ to 8$ (street food), and up to 14$ at nice restaurants. Touristic places are significantly more expensive, also regarding meals. But beer is cheap – 1 to 2$ (I name Beerlao, the one you’ll see everywhere)
Don’t drink tap water, don’t eat crude meat nor unpeeled fruits: some of the basic recommendations which apply to any other destination in South East Asia.
– Transportation: around 15$, for a 10 hrs journey in the overnight bus (i.g, from Vientiane to Luang Prabang). If you can, don’t hesitate to spend a bit more in order to use better busses / mini-vans (air-conditioning, less crowded). You can also rent motorbikes in every town for cheap prices.
– Activities: 5 – 10$, usually. Up to 40$ for the really touristy ones. Do as much as you can without tours! Visiting Laos with no tour is totally doable. Fees to lagoons, caves and co. cost approx. up to 10$.
Do you want to compare accommodation prices in Laos quickly? I use to check on Hotelcombined – this affiliate link will take you to the comparator for accommodation in Laos.
Go off-the-beaten track in Laos: unusual travel experiences
And this is why to travel Laos, with no doubt: the uniqueness of the experience you’ll get there. Maybe because Laos is still preserved from mass tourism, you’ll go off-beaten track more than once in Laos. I loved exploring caves with nothing else and no one else but my travel mate and a headlamp – jump here to get more info about a cool off the beaten track place in Laos!
Spirituality is also strong in Laos. Temples, but also crazy places to practice meditation are everywhere. Like, in a cave with a human-size Buddhist statue. Or at a cliff overviewing a river. You’re connected with Nature, and with yourself.
The ultimate reason why you should travel Laos: cultural traveling, and the locals
What I name cultural traveling is the fact that Laos isn’t a touristy destination yet. Local lifestyles and daily life can be experienced the real way. Inhabitants live their life without trying to fit into “touristic expectations”. This way, you are immersed into Laotian traditions and ways of living. For me, the best thing you can get when you travel.
New year celebrations are one of the best examples of cultural traveling. In Pakse, as we stayed there, the whole city was partying for New year, the Laotian way. They have big reunions in front of houses, eating and drinking. And they throw water to anyone who passes by! A way of blessing you for the coming year. As tourists, we actually got caught up into it. And met Laotian families who invited us to their homes. An experience I didn’t make in any other country!
What to know before traveling to Laos: 4 difficulties
Why to travel Laos is now clear. It’s just a stunning country! But I have to admit, it’s not every day pink pony world as a traveller. What does suck when visiting Laos? My personal feedback!
The language challenge when backpacking Laos
It’s an aspect of cultural travelling: the language! To travel Laos is challenging, mostly because it can get a real headache to make yourself understandable at restaurants, hotels, tour agencies… Laos is still not touristy, for the best. But it also means that people don’t always master English!
I think, you need to be careful at restaurants, for example if you’re allergic at some stuff. It happened to me and luckily, I could see it before eating! In this case, prepare yourself and come along with Google translator. Or play it safe, and avoid to have to enter into complex conversations!
Otherwise, you improve your Pictionary skills when traveling Laos. Since it’s a daily hand and feet exchange! Situations which make your travel unforgettable, for sure!
The hack of transportation and roads in Laos
That’s another consequence of non-touristy countries. Transportation are not really adapted to bring you quickly from one landmark to the other. Cambodia and Vietnam are better equipped. Laos, for this regard, is still pretty underdeveloped. Roads, outside of cities, can be muddy and slippery. My travel mate and I had a couple of motorbike accidents, with no gravity. Just be aware of bad roads and drive carefully.
Busses and vans are the most common way for travellers to visit Laos. They are not the most comfortable ones but they’ll do the job. To explore remote areas, like in the North near Vang Vieng or in the South near Pakse, you’ll probably need a motorbike. Backpackers travel the same routes, so you should find mates to share a bike if you want it! This article gives you details about all means of transportation in Laos you can use.
Long hours on the road between two destinations
The lack of good roads and reliable transportation often leads to pretty long hours in the bus or van, before reaching your destination. To travel Laos is also a question of being patient. But we’re here to chill, to enjoy the landscapes. So, you’ll have plenty of time to do this in the bus!
Just prepare in advance your itineraries. Schedule your time knowing that the bus might arrive much later than planned! Unexpected breakdowns are pretty common in Laos!
Be prepared for last minute plan changes when traveling Laos
Why to travel in Laos? Certainly not to follow a plan with no changes! Not only transportation comes with its bunch of unexpected delays and changes! Tour agencies, bookings at hotels, vehicle rental: it can go as well as bad!
If you already travelled South East Asia, you know it for a fact: be ready to make last minute changes to your plans! It’s also what makes traveling so interesting. No routine, constant adaptation!
Curiosity makes the awesome traveler you are.
Check out other travel and photo blog posts!
Check out other travel and photo blog posts!
I am made of photography,stories from the road and a good dose of passion. I am Ophélie, French-born traveler always on the go. My travel photography blog is about my travel experiences, tips and my addiction for adventure. To help you explore countries on your own… as an independent and curious traveller.