The Lowdown on Laos

16 August 2016

The Lowdown on Laos

When traveling through Indochina Laos is often a country that is forgotten about, yet, it has just as much (if not more) prestige, beauty and adventure compared to its buzzing neighbours Vietnam and Thailand. Laos has a rich history, dense forests, over 100 ethnic mountain tribes and incredible food.  The country runs at its own steady pace and oozes a sense of relaxation. It is a country full of surprises, action and peace.

Here is why Laos needs to be your next South East Asia destination.

You can fly through the forest

The Gibbon Experience is one adventure you will never forget. Spend 3 days/2 nights soaring through the treetops of the pristine Bokeo Reserve. You will trek and fly around the forest, as well as sleep in the world’s tallest treehouses, all the while contributing to a project developed to reduce logging and help save the Black-Crested Gibbons of Laos.  It’s a win win escapade.

There are monks everywhere

One of the most special experiences you can ever have is an early morning wake up in the town of Luang Prabang. Step outside your hotel and watching the hundreds upon hundreds of monks collecting their morning alms from the locals for the day. The lines of boys and men, dressed in hues of orange is breathtaking.

The waterfalls are SO blue

Just outside of Luang Prabang, the Tat Kuang Si are the most welcoming, pure and spectacular falls the country has to offer. Ensure you bring your swimmers for a dip under the cascades of clear blue water. Be certain to check out the Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre where rescued Asiatic Moon bears play in their own sanctuary.

Sunsets and beer go hand in hand

The best way to end any day in Laos goes like this: Pull up a plastic chair, pop open a Beer Lao, eat some roasted cashews and watch the sun set over the river. Perfect.

The people are so kind

And they don’t have a worry in the world. Lao people are caring, chilled and live life at their own speed. With over 140 different ethnic tribes in the country it is worth a visit to the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Museum. You also won’t want to miss the Night Markets where local handicrafts are sold by the ladies of the hill tribes every night of the week.

The food is fresh and delicious

The traditional Laos BBQ is local, cheap and very tasty! They are no name restaurants, set up on the sidewalks and have little chairs and tables with holes in the middle of them. Along with the menu, hot coals are brought to your table. You are to select your meats, veggies and stock and then cook your own dinner. It is fun and VERY delicious.

Temples galore

Yes, just like Europe with their churches, Laos has hundreds of temples. Each are special in their own way, and house the thousands of monks you see wandering the streets. If you’re only going to see a couple make sure you visit Pha That Luang in the country’s capital, Vientiane. It is a completely golden stupa and is one of the most important national monuments in Laos. Alternatively, for something less glitzy, Wat Xieng Thong in Luang Prabang is just as important. The complex houses over 20 structures and boasts some of the most intricate work we have seen.

It was “the most heavily bombed country on earth”

Not many people know this but there were continual US bomb raids between 1964-1973 due to the Vietnam War and in this time American B-52s dropped an average of one bomb-load every eight minutes, 24 hours a day. As a result, many lost lives, and many lost limbs from Unexploded Ordanance (UXOs). A visit to COPE in Vientiane is an eye-opening, inspirational affair. COPE was created to provide UXO survivors with the care and support required by way of orthotic and prosthetic devices. This place is worth a visit.

Restore your Zen

After a day out canoeing The Nam Song River in Vang Vieng, climbing to find a hidden temple, or discovering more about the food and culture of the beautiful Laotian people, you cannot leave without experiencing a spa treatment in one of the many serene massage havens. We loved the traditional style treatments and products on offer in Luang Prabang in particular, and indulged nearly every day to rejuvenate tired feet and backs - an affordable treat worth indulging in.