I accidentally booked a flight to Laos with my mate and we started an unexpected adventure there…
1. Where is Laos?
Loas is located in the center of Indochina surrounded by Vietnam, China, Thailand and Myama without closing to any sea.
Because of its geographic advantage, Laos plays an important role as the vital country for transportation. Stretching from northern to southern part, the whole country lasts for 1700 meters long.
Laos is mainly divided into three sections: north, middle and south. One of the iconic river, Mecon, goes through the country which becomes one of the most natural resource in there.
The most important cities in Laos, including its capital city Vientian and the most popular cities amongst tourists, Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang, are all located in the northern part.
2. Is it dangerous to travel in Laos?
Not at all.
Even though we were quite worried about local safety, we felt relaxed once we arrived at this land, country.
Local people told us that compare to southern Laos, north part is relatively safe. We do not need to concern about being robbed or stolen. (which we were very worried about this issue in Cambodia)
However, it is always better to keep an eye on your stuff anytime when travelling.
3. What language do Laos people speak? Do they speak English?
Well, you do not need to worry about the communication problem most of the time.
Locals always try their best to talk to you even if they do not speak well or only use simple and limited words.
Nevertheless, since they could not understand your English, it is very likely that the taxi drivers would misunderstand your words and take you to the wrong place when you take tuk-tuk (local transportation: three-wheels motorbike).
It is always recommended to re-confirm the address in their written language (from the local maps) or try to pronounce their roads names to prevent from misunderstandings.
4. Are Loas people friendly? Would they fool you around?
Normally, people there are very friendly. They always have smile on their face when talking with you. They would also be happy to help travelers, especially people working in the hostels, hotels or restaurants. (Probably it’s because they know that tourism is one of the key factors to boos their economy and bring great fortune)
But still, triple check that locals understand what you want them to do even if they say “Yes”. It happened to me that they said “yes” before you finished my words and even worse, saying “no problem” all the time but did the wrong thing afterwards and gave me a sincere smile….
5. What’s the public transportation? How to travel to other cities in Laos?
Since Laos is a country under developement, they do not have any train, high speed rail or subway.
To travel within cities: Bus, with 7~12 seats, is the main way. The tickets are normally available in the hostels or hotels as long as you book it one day before.
Different kinds of buses: old, new and overnight bus or small one. The road from a city to another is not paved yet, so it is quite bumping and uncomfortable (rocks, ups and downs and potholes all the way). However, during the travel, I saw some of the roads are under-constructions. So it is very likely that the roads will be well-paved in the future.
or.. act like locals:by foot
6. What’s the local food?
There are plenty styles of food in Laos like Thai, Vietnam and Chinese.
You can also find many seafood, pork, chicken and beef or those with special sauce added in the noodle soup, fried noodles, thick rice noodles, fried rice and so on.
Personally, I really enjoy trying their Thai style seafood with rice or thick rice noodles as they’ll add their local spicies and herbs which makes the cuisine more like Lao style.
Special recommended cuisine is the red and green curry sauce with rice. (you can choose your preferred meat).
7. How is the quality of local hostels and hotels?
While travelling in Laos, I mostly stayed in hotel and hostels ranging from 3~10 USD per night depending on the cities and areas.
It is better to bring your own toiletries even though some of the nicer hostels and hotels provide it. There are many new hostels just being built in recent years so they are quite new and informative.
8. What’s the living cost? Where can I exchange the currency with a better rate?
In Laos, the street food and normal restaurant meals cost around 1.5~3 USD and 2~5 USD respectively. And surely there are expensive restaurants costs 5~10 USD for a meal.
Bring USD and exchange local money when you get there. However, you need to pay attention to the rate in the bank and private currency stores. From my observation, the bank rate isn’t as good as the private ones. If you are walking on the tourist area in the major cities of Laos, the rates are pretty similar.
9. How do Laos people look like?
Dark, little, skinny and healthy with more profound nose and eyes compared to Chinese andKorean.
The height of men: 160 ish (my own observation)
The height of women: 145 ish
10. Do you recommend Laos?
The people, culture and living are beyond my expectations. I sincerely admire their ways of living: living for the moment and relax.
It’s a very worthy 2 week experience in Laos and I would love to visit there again.
Short description on below picture.
It was taken in a very remote village in Laos, where people could only get there by foot. Walking distance is around 8-12 km from the access of river where crossing over the river is the way to the city.
People living over there are mainly 2 groups aboriginal. (Sorry that name is too difficult for me to remember). They make living from selling rubber resin from Hevea brasiliensis, live stocks, corn or other plants. Those things are not around their houses. In other words, they need to carry stuff they need (which can even weigh 15 kg) to and forth by foot for 4 hours to work at the plants area.
Local told me, they have no electricity at all. Inside this house, only plain floor and maybe some local-made natural “furnitures”.
The live style here is very simple. It makes me start thinking over what exactly I need or I want for my life to live…
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