6 December 2016

WHY LAOS?

And why it needs to be your next travel destination!
I'd been to Thailand, heard tonnes about Vietnam and knew of Cambodia but Laos? I'd never heard of it and up until a month before I was due to go, I was still pronouncing it "lay-oss" - embarrassing. I was super excited to visit every where else and was curious to see what Laos was about but nothing can prepare you for how quickly you'll fall in love with the place...
Vientiane
The laid back and stunning capital city packed with history.
We started our journey in the stunning capital city and as we were only here for one night, we squeezed in as much as we could. We started at the gorgeous Patuxai archway, which I'd dreamed of seeing for years after coming across a picture of it on tumblr. I didn't realise where it was until I arrived at the archway and recognised it. I was in awe. The inside was just as amazing as the outside, murals of Hindu Gods painted the ceiling and the sun bounced off the intricate details of the arch. We visited Pha That Luang, which was lavished in gold and statues of Buddha's surrounded the stupa. The architecture will blow your mind everywhere in Laos. We went on to have a relaxed evening of strolling through the night market, which was so good for shopping - there were beautiful paintings of Buddha's and elephants and a great selection of tie dye clothes. Later we tried the national dish - larb, a spicy minced meat salad with mint and coriander, and the local Laos beer - I don't even like beer but this stuff is good! 


Luang Prabang
The humble city will capture you with it's simplicity and beauty.
We stayed in the quaint Old Quarter of Luang Prabang, which had such a relaxed atmosphere we immediately felt we had to get a massage. We took our time walking through the streets and noticed what an interesting mix of Laotian golden roof temples and typical French Colonial architecture there was. Market stalls beginning to set up for the evening and it was just as good as Vientiane's. Market stalls lined the streets and down a little alleyway was a row of food stalls. Street buffets were popular and for 10000 kip (80p) you could help yourself to noodles, fried rice, spring rolls, salad - it was so good! We started the next day by visiting some elephants and it took my breath away the minute we drove into the village. Elephants were roaming around as they pleased, greenery surrounded us and just down the path was the river. I've never seen such healthy, happy looking elephants. We spent time bathing them and feeding them and it was such an amazing morning. After lunch, we head to see the Kuang Si Waterfalls and they were stunning! The water was so clear and blue and we decided to jump in but were surprised to find that the water was ice cold! It didn't help that the sun disappeared and there were little fish in the water that kept nipping our feet and toes. We ended our stay in Laos with a Mekong home stay; it was a small village with no running water or electricity and we had a chilled evening playing with local kids. 


Vang Vieng
Eat. Sleep. Rave. Repeat.
It's the most touristy spot that we visited in Laos but if you enjoy breath-taking scenery and being able to kayak down the Nam Song river with nothing but lush greenery and mountains surrounding you, you should go. Not to mention it gets wild on the river by midday and suddenly becomes the most unlikely party town you'll ever visit. One word: tubing. An absolute must do in Vang Vieng. Imagine a bar crawl...but imagine it on a river whilst floating in a rubber tube. For $2 you get given your tube to sit in and you float down the river, which is lined with bars on either side. If you want to stop and grab a drink, you wave at them and a person will chuck you a rope to grab onto and will pull you in. You leave your dingy in the drop off zone and head to the bar for a drink. There are games, there's music, there's just so much fun and will easily become the funnest day on your trip to Laos. Even though it was chucking it down with rain it somehow made it a million times more fun. And don't think age is an issue - we saw a woman with grey hair who looked at least 60 floating down the river with a cocktail in hand. Goals. 


Laos became my favourite spot that I'd visited during my travels in South East Asia. It was beautiful both architecturally and naturally. Beautiful temples lay within luscious landscapes plus they have delicious food! My favourite being the dish "laab" - a mince meat dish flavoured with spices, chilli and mint. Perfect with a beer Lao. 

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