Laos is an Asian country located deep within the Indochinese peninsula and bordered by Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar. Since Laos is one of the few landlocked countries in the world, the fun way to get to the country is by going to Thailand, Vietnam, or Cambodia.
The most exciting route is by riding a bus in Thailand to Chiang Khong and taking a boat across the fabled Mekong River to finally reach the small country of Laos. When you finally arrive in Laos, you’ll immediately be taken away by the architecture and design of the buildings.
This design is because Laos used to be a French colony and still has a lot of French influence today. If you have a good ear for French, you might even hear some locals speaking a bit of it. Here are some more exciting things when you’re in Laos:
Due to its proximity to other countries such as Thailand and Cambodia, the food in Laos is relatively similar. However, the sticky rice in Laos is to die for. Locals roll up sticky rice balls and use their hands to dip the rice into different types of sauces.
The Lao also love their Papaya salad. Unripe papaya is shredded into strips and mixed with lime, chili, garlic, sugar, and other spices. Tourists are warned though, Laos’ papaya salad with spices can have a slight kick and can have you reeling with taste.
When it comes to protein, Laab should be one of your must-haves in Laos. Laab is basically a meat salad, which contains either, beef, pork, duck, chicken, or fish. The dish is mixed with an assortment of spices and mint leaves, which provide tourist that unique flavor profile.
To wash it all down, you need to try out Beer Lao. It’s highly refreshing and is known all over the world as one of the best beers in Southeast Asia.
Tip: Although the locals can get water from the tap, it’s not advised to drink from it. For tourists, a better alternative is to stock up on sealed, bottled water readily available in supermarkets. Try to avoid the milk in Laos as well.
Most locals often sell unpasteurized milk, which can upset a lot of stomachs. If you have to try the milk here, it’s best to go for powdered or tinned milk also available at local supermarkets.
Another thing you immediately notice when you step foot on Laos is the lush terrain. The terrain makes it Laos a perfect track for motorcycle enthusiasts and riders alike. However, before you can ride a bike around the cities of Laos, you’ll need a license to do so. You can go to several bike rental shops that can offer you bikes to choose from.
Bike rental owners won’t care if you have or don’t have the right papers to drive. Laos accepts international driving permits, but it’s advised that you approach local authorities first before attempting to drive. It’s also recommended that you have your helmet when riding your bike.
If you don’t fancy riding motorcycles, then local transportation is the best alternative. The traffic in Laos is terrible, and you’ll find yourself on the road longer than usual. Aside from buses, Laos has its tuk-tuks.
A tuk-tuk is an automated rickshaw, which locals use to travel in Laos. Be wary of some tuk-tuk drivers that will charge ridiculous fare prices on tourists. If your destination is within two blocks, then you should do some walking instead of hiring a tuk-tuk.
Places of Interest
Since the country is one of the best Asia destinations to go, there are lots of places that tourists can go in Laos, here are some:
Luang Pravang – A world heritage site where you can find the Vat Xien Tong monastery. The city also has the Garavek Traditional Storytelling Theater, where tourists can enjoy the legends and folktales of Laos in English.
Vang Vieng – A tourist-oriented town located in Vientiane Province. Vang Vieng is known as the adventure capital of Laos. The most sought out activities to do here is tubing down the river while enjoying a refreshing bottle of Beer Lao.
Plain of Jars – An archaeological landscape in Laos. It’s the Southeast Asian version of Stonehenge. You can find thousands of clustered stone jars scattered across the lower foothills of the Xiangkhoang Plateau.
Final Words of Advice
In Laos, people here are very courteous and warm to tourists. It’s only fitting that we as tourists also give back the same gesture. When you’re in Laos, follow the laws and regulations here. Tourists should always carry their passports all the time.
When interacting with the locals, be polite. Take off your shoes if you’re invited to a local residence, don’t hang your feet on any furniture, avoid pointing fingers, never stick a camera to a person’s face, and never ever touch a monk.
Laos is a Buddhist country, and it has its own unwritten conservative rules. If you’re visiting temples, you should wear the right clothing. For women, shoulders and knees should always be covered. Men should always keep their shirt on when walking the cities of Laos.
And if you have a bit of change with you, it’s a good idea to give alms to monks. A lot of tourists believe that giving alms to the monks here provide good luck on travels.
Laos is a landlocked country blessed with a lot of tourist attractions and destinations. The food here is marvelous. The must-try food here is laab, sticky rice, and the world-famous Beer Lao. When you want to drive in Laos, always obtain a permit first. Tuk-tuk and busses are also available here.
Even though Laos has a lot of tourist destinations, it’s always best to be respectful of the customs in the country. Be mindful of signs on the front doors of cafes that require you to remove your shoes. Have fun, be safe, and enjoy the country of Laos. Simply Beautiful.