Laid Back Laos

Laos is by far SEA’s most languid country, and also its least accessible(so whatever mode of travel you’re using make sure you allow enough time). If there’s one thing I can recommend you NOT do, it’s taking the fast boat from Chiang Kong, Thailand to Luang Prabang, Laos. This was perhaps the most harrowing adventure of my life, and after 8 hours of ricocheting off rocks along the Mekong, I feel fortunate to have survived. The slow boat is a much safer option, and will get you in more of a Laotian state of mind.

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Luang Prabang was one of my favorite cities in SEA, as it is isolated, well preserved, and not buzzing with incessant motos. I rented a bicycle here, and found it fun to cruise around and look at the numerous wats, or stop in at some of the cafes (the French influence is more evident in Luang Prabang than in the other cities in Laos). Make sure you get up extra early and give alms to the monks, and also don’t miss the night market if you want to stock up on souvenirs. If you’re interested in cooking classes,they offer a good cooking class at the restaurant Tamarind in Luang Prabang. If you decide you don’t want to cook, they supposedly have wonderful food (it was closed when I was visiting).

The true beauty of Laos lies in its verdant landscapes, so I would try and spend more time exploring its waterfalls and mountains than in Vientiane or Vang Vieng. If you decide you want to see Vientiane, I think a day or two should be more than enough time. I would bypass Vang Vieng as it’s been overtaken by eternal spring breakers.

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