We western people are so attracted to indigenous and exotic cultures, that when we face them in reality, we are often shocked, disappointed or even disgusted by what we experience. This is not because we are spoiled and cannot stand dirty streets, smelly food and “strange” rules where we are not allowed to wear whatever we want or speak whenever we wish. We are, however, more surprised to realise, that the “west” has an incredible impact on the “east”…and not always in the positive way.

After we started to have itchy feet in Chiang Mai and all seemed to us a bit easy in terms of travelling, we decided to go to Laos and to explore this “forgotten country”, as they call it. Maybe is forgotten in the worldwide terms of tourism, but for us it will remain a country that we will remember for a long time.

Here are some notes, tips and our experiences from Laos that made our trip exciting and terrific at the same time.

Laos the Good and the Bad

The beautiful nature of Laos.

The Good

Sandwiches
You can find them everywhere. In Luang Prabang, the most well-known place to have breakfast, lunch and dinner with a sandwich is the main road where the Night Market takes place. There are about ten stalls with almost the same menu and all of them make Laotian coffee, very good fruit shakes and some of them even offer crepes. Price: from 10,000 kips to 20,000 kips (1.20-2.50 USD) for a fresh sandwich, about 1.20 USD for a shake. Be ready for pushy vendors who constantly compete against each other as they wave their menu just in front of you, shouting out, “Sandwich, sir? Coffee, madam?”

Laos the Good and the Bad

Tons of sandwiches everywhere.

In Vang Vieng you’ll find dozens of small shops and street stalls selling them. Prices are more or less the same as in Luang Prabang.
In Vientiane you will not feel the lack of the sandwiches at all. They serve them in many cafes, too, although there are much fewer street vendors.

Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang “stopped in time”
Here there are fewer cars, more motorbikes and bikes, smaller buildings and a noticeable impact of the French colonial style, especially in Luang Prabang. The towns “wake up” very slowly, as you can see just a few people on the street in the early morning. There are almost no advertisements on the streets, which gives these places definitely a relaxing and laid-back quality. On the other hand, if you are an active person who needs a lot of stimulation, you probably want to limit your stay to no more than two days.

Vang Vieng is perfect for chilling out, and being there allows you not to have any big plans ahead of time as you can do many outdoor activities.

Laos the Good and the Bad

A lazy afternoon in Luang Prabang.

Big Brother Mouse Project
Laotians do not speak as much English compared to Thais in bigger towns. But they want to learn and some of them put in hard effort to do so. If you wish to support them in “conquering the world” and helping them to improve their English, go for a two-hour chat in Luang Prabang  at the Big Brother Mouse Project. You will have a unique chance to learn more about their culture too, since it is more a conversation than a grammar lesson.

The students come to chat with foreigners either randomly or on a regular basis, mostly to practice what they have learned at schools. The majority of them are young students and Buddhist novices (monks do not visit these kinds of social gatherings). We have done it once and we loved it

What we learned about their culture was a bit shocking for us, however. We don’t want to generalise the statement of one novice, but he tried to explain us the attitude of Laotians towards tourists in their homeland. He said, “You are all very rich because you are very smart, so we need to learn from you so that we are rich too.” Well, the only thing we were able to convince the novice about was that learning a language can make him rich easily as well.

Best Hotels for Luang Prabang, Laos

Maison Souvannaphoum

Maison Souvannaphoum

This 5-star resort offers an airport shuttle, 24-hour reception, on-site spa and wellness centre.

Garden Wing Room: $100

La Sen Boutique

Le Sen Boutique Hotel

The hotel features a swimming pool and rooms have refrigerator, a mini bar and cable/satellite channels.

Deluxe room with breakfast: $62

Maison Dalabua Hotel Luang Prabang

Maison Dalabua Luang Prabang

A 3-star accommodation with spacious and charming rooms, minibar, free bicycle rental and wifi.

Deluxe room with breakfast: $59

Rivers

Laos the Good and the Bad

The Mekong river in Luang Prabang.

Floating on the Mekong or walking along the river is a highly pleasant experience, especially early in the morning, when everything is covered in mist and you can see just a few boats moving in absolute silence. In Luang Prabang, there are two bamboo bridges which you can cross for 5,000 kips (0.70 USD). They take them down every six months before the monsoon season starts. By buying the ticket, you support a local family who builds the bridges every new dry season. Insider tip: when you come early in the morning, around 7 am, there is nobody there to charge you.

Laos the Good and the Bad

The bamboo bridge, early in the morning, in Luang Prabang.

After you cross the bridge closer to the town, you can relax in a swimming pool (2.50 USD per day). If you cross the other one, you can have a nice walk to the so-called “Paper and Weaving Village“. Apart from the houses that sell scarves, hand-made paper, notebooks and snacks, there is nothing appealing to see. However, you will find many ads in town to take a tour there.

Laos the Good and the Bad

Tubing in Vang Vieng.

In Vang Vieng, you can either do the famous river tubing (the rent for one inner tube is about 6.50 USD, plus a 7 USD deposit for one day), or kayaking. We did the second, and it was one of the best experiences we’ve had so far. We paid 8.70 USD per person for two hours of kayaking, with transport to the Nam Song river included.

Insider tip: if you do not have experience, ask for a guide to stay with you in the kayak. It’s very helpful and if you are lucky and he speaks English, you can chat about the country and culture.

Laos the Good and the Bad

Kayaking in Vang Vieng.

The scenery in Vang Vieng is spectacular, thanks to the river. Even if you do not feel like doing any activities, you can just lie down near the river, rent a small wooden platform and stay there all day, or bathe in the river too. Then just wait for the music coming from the night bars and dance, if you feel like it.

In Vientiane, you can have a stroll or go jogging on the promenade along the Mekong River, quite a busy place in the evening, with some souvenir and food stalls around. If you catch good light during the day, you might see Thailand in the distance.

Best Hotels for Vang Vieng, Laos

Riverside Boutique Resort

Riverside Boutique Resort

A 5-star accommodation with multiple amenities. This hotel features room service and a 24-hour reception.

Deluxe room with breakfast: $97

Thavonsouk Resort Vang Vieng

Thavonsouk Resort Vang Vieng

A 3-star accommodation with elegant rooms with private bathroom. The resort provides luggage storage and coffee bar.

Double room with breakfast: $37

The Elephant Crossing Hotel

The Elephant Crossing Hotel

Featuring views of the mountains, this 3-star accommodation offers massage services, bicycle rental and a coffee bar.

Standard double with breakfast: $33

Waterfalls
There are plenty of them and all the tuk-tuk drivers know very well where to take you. We chose the Kuang Si waterfalls near Luang Prabang. Together with our friends we shared a tuk-tuk for a day (6 USD per person). We left the town at 10 am, arrived there in about one hour and found the place, along with some tourists who had arrived earlier. The entrance is 20,000 kips (2.50 USD). In case you are already hungry upon arrival, you can have some grilled snacks or sandwiches from the food stalls.

Laos the Good and the Bad

Kuang Si waterfalls in Luang Prabang.

We really suggest going to the very top of the waterfalls, where you need to climb for about 20 minutes (bring a reliable pair of hiking shoes). The view from the top is a bit blocked by trees, but the hike itself is wonderful.
If you are brave enough and can withstand cool, turquoise water, swimwear is a must. There are a couple of places where you can swim at the Kuang Si waterfalls, and we did enjoy it a lot, although only for a short time, as the water was freezing cold!

Laos the Good and the Bad

Gianni swimming in the freezing Kuang Si waterfalls.

Cinema
Although they opened a film production company (Lao New Wave Cinema Productions) recently in Laos, you will not find a movie theatre as we know it. We heard that apart from one family-run movie theatre in Vientiane, there is only one more cinema in Laos, in Luang Prabang. The place is called L’Etranger Books & Tea. They screen a movie each day at 7 pm, for free, and the only requirement is to order a meal or a cup of tea, find a good space on the comfortable floor mats, on the chair or on the bench, and watch the movie you pick from the weekly programme.

You basically watch the movie on a TV, and unfortunately, after a while, the techno or ska music from the neighbouring club blares a louder “soundtrack” than you might like. We chose “Blue Jasmine” by Woody Allen, which was not the best choice, but it was still a cool experience to watch the movie with 15 other people in a sort of cosy living room.

Walking

The nature of Laos is just breathtaking, relatively untouched and genuinely wild.

Either you walk slowly in the towns or along the rivers, or you just stroll around on forest paths. Whatever you choose, it is always enjoyable. The only thing is, it is highly recommended not to hike alone for long distances and definitely not on the unmarked areas. Laos was the most heavily bombed country in the world and they say 30% of the explosive munitions have not detonated yet. We simply took the pathways when it was clear that people had already walked through them safely.

Laos the Good and the Bad

Kids playing in the water of the Mekong river.

Best Hotels for Vientiane, Laos

Ansara Hotel

Ansara Hotel Vientiane

This hotel features free Wi-Fi, an outdoor pool, massage services, a coffee bar and free parking.

Double room with breakfast: $111

Rashmi's Plaza

Rashmi’s Plaza Hotel

This luxury hotel features many amenities like a rooftop pool, fitness centre, Jacuzzi and free shuttle service.

Studio apartment with breakfast: $76

Sengtawan Riverside Hotel

Sengtawan Riverside

This hotel provides fitness centre and massage service. Plenty of restaurants and cafes nearby.

Double room with breakfast: $37

The Bad

Morning monks ceremony in Luang Prabang
Honestly, this was one of the saddest experience for us in Laos. We were not the only ones who woke up early to see the ceremony. Sadly, the tourists consider this event a “paparazzi photo shoot” opportunity. Despite the fact that suggestions on how to behave during the ceremony are displayed all around the town, the majority of the people simply ignores them.

Tourists approach the monks to a disgustingly close distance and they use flash (the mornings are still dark), even if it’s forbidden. If you want to see Buddhist ceremonies so much, we can suggest going to any temple in the late afternoon when they chant and the atmosphere is much more peaceful.

Laos the Good and the Bad

A woman selling artcrafts in Luang Prabang market.

People do not smile
Laotians often looked a bit confused and shy when they saw our happy faces. Which is fine, because this is simply the way they are. However, people selling the sandwiches and coffee know exactly what Westerners like and they try to push themselves more. But honestly, this is not their true nature.

Entrance fees for temples
A lot of them are closed during the day and are mostly open early in the morning and in the evening, when the monks go for chanting. Moreover, in most cases you pay a fee to enter.

Transport
First, it is more expensive compared to Thailand. If back in Thailand we paid 3 USD to hire a tuk-tuk for a day, here we paid double.
The roads are more “adventurous”, not to mention the crazy drivers who sometimes seem like they’re playing a Formula 1 video game with their minivans. The bumpy, speedy five-hour drive from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng was enough for me to appreciate the miracle of motion sickness pills. You really need to have a very strong stomach to cope with hundreds of curves and the insane speed of the driver. Apart from that, if you ride a motorbike, you will probably find the roads a bit too dusty and not ideal for long trips in some areas.

Laos the Good and the Bad

A crowded songthaew in Luang Prabang.

In another post we talked about our disappointment when we arrived to the “new” pier in Luang Prabang and had to pay an additional fee to get to the town. Well, this was not the first time we were dropped off somewhere other than expected. When we took a minivan to Vang Vieng, we stopped far away from the town and had to pay a tuk-tuk to get to the town (1.20 USD).

It was the same story with the VIP bus from Vang Vieng to Vientiane. Although it was written on the time table that the bus stops in the centre, we ended up at the bus station too far to walk, where some tuk-tuk drivers were already waiting for us to do us “a big favour” and take to us the centre (1.20 USD). Well, the issue was not about the price…but for 1.20 USD you can have a meal in Laos. Just imagine, would anyone back in Europe ask 15-20 euros for a 10-minute drive? Probably not.

Laos the Good and the Bad

Bizarre outfit for cycling in Vang Vieng.

Food
We tasted different sandwiches for the first day and we loved them a lot. But if you travel on a budget and wish to try traditional, local food, there are not that many choices. A food market in an alley just near the Night Market in Luang Prabang serves different steamed veggies, rice, noodles and grilled meat and fish, but we were not that crazy about the options, because in the end they all tasted similar.

In Vang Vieng we kept eating sandwiches and two times we ate in Indian restaurant, which made us unbelievably happy.
In Vientiane we discovered a nice, local restaurant, the ‘Three Sisters’ opposite of Wat Chanh (side entrance), where they serve delicious noodle soups and some national dishes.

Begging kids
Unlike in Thailand, the small children run after you in Laos, touch your trouser pockets and ask for money. We had a very strange experience when walking back home in Vang Vieng across the rice fields along the river after the sunset, close to the bungalows area, but still a bit far from the main hustle. Two kids around 8 years of age blocked our way with a 1.5m-long bamboo stick and asked for money. We managed to pass without paying “fees”, but being there alone as a woman, I am not sure if I would have refused to pay them.

So, be careful about your belongings around piers, stations and crowded and remote places where the children, sadly to say, often beg for money.

Boredom

laos good and bad

Sleepy backpackers watching ‘Friends’ in Vang Vieng guesthouse.

It all depends on the reason you come to the country and what you are looking for on the road, but if you’re looking for wild nightlife, you better look for another place on the world map. The pubs and restaurants close at 11:30 pm sharp, and much of the nightlife is happening on the outskirts of the towns, like near Luang Prabang, in a special, so-called “bowling alley”.  We skipped this with pleasure, as we do not drink alcohol, but we heard that to enter, you must buy a bottle of vodka, no matter if you prefer whiskey, beer, or wine.

In general, if you are not a party animal, two days in Luang Prabang or Vientiane will be enough. Believe us, to wander around and meet backpackers who just come to enjoy booze and drugs is not that exciting.

Internet
The internet connection is painfully slow. In some places you connect, but it simply doesn’t work. Therefore, Laos is not a country for digital nomads or people working online.

Anonymity and fakeness
It is nothing new to say that the capital of Laos, Vientiane, is just a town to stop on your travels or to do the visa-run. We knew that and we were ready for all the downsides of it. So, not surprisingly, for us, it was a soulless town with many shopping malls, banks mixed with abandoned buildings, fountains that do not work and lots of concrete around.

laos good and bad

A French colonial style street in Luang Prabang.

On the other hand, Luang Prabang, famous for being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, does not give you a better feeling of the original Laotian culture, but rather the opposite. We had an impression that it was all set up just to bring in tourists and show them beautiful textiles, waterfalls and caves, or tasty sandwiches and croissants, but is this all that you can discover about Laos? We believe it’s not, and that’s why it is probably better to explore less urban places, if you are keen on learning more about Laotians and their daily routines and customs.

laos good and bad

One way bamboo bridge in Vang Vieng.

We do admit that being in Laos for two weeks does not make us experts on the country. We know we have visited just a tiny part of it, but from what we saw, heard and observed, we came to the conclusion that it is indeed a beautiful country to travel to, but that it all depends on what you are looking for.

This time, we found the bright and dark sides of it and that the latter was caused not by the undeveloped nature of the country, but rather by western influence and bad mix of genuine traditions and natural sights that were somehow fake and unfortunately crowded.

Have you ever been to Laos? What is your experience and which places would you recommend visiting? Please, leave a comment below.

Best books to read about Laos

Lonely Planet Laos

Lonely Planet Laos

A Short History of Laos

A Short History of Laos

The Rough Guide to Laos

The Rough Guide to Laos

58 Responses

  1. Carlo

    Great post guys. Loved reliving some of the great memories we had with ye in Laos. Lots of love from Hanoi 😉

    Ciao

    Reply
    • Ivana

      Thank you, Carlo. We enjoyed our time with both of you guys a lot and we believe to see you on the road again so we can have a nice sandwich together!

      Reply
    • khram

      I live in Luang Prabang and I have to say I dont understand your comment about food. I can’t see how you got to eat sandwiches when you have a few distinct dishes easily at reach such as eggplant dips, coconut steamed fish, pho, khao poon, sticky rice, papaya salads, tofu/fish/meat laap which do not taste similar “in the end”. Everyone eats this here, not baguettes. Moreover, regretting that Luang Prabang is set up for tourism is funny coming from someone eating sandwiches. Travellers expect to find living museums while holding the 7th edition of their guidebook in their hands.

      Reply
      • Ivana Greslikova

        Hi Khram, thanks for joining the discussion. I accept your opinion, but would like to say that the fact why we ended up eating those sandwiches was not because we didn’t find laap and other other national dishes, but because we travel on budget and those places where we ate in Luang Prabang were really not very affordable to eat there every day. Actually, we dined once and had some laap and eggplant dip, but the portions were too small to make us full so we decided to keep going with sandwiches as we couldn’t afford to pay more than double for a local dish. We are street food lovers and we do eat all what we can try in each new country. You might have overlooked the mention where we say we tasted some lovely local dishes in Vientiane. And sorry, I don’t understand your remark that we travel with a guidebook. We don’t and we never did.

      • Ivana Greslikova

        Thanks for sharing, Elliot! As we said in the article, we wish we could explore more of the country to get a wider picture. Happy travels!

  2. 2 Digital Nomads

    We were in Laos in 2009, we enjoyed a lot the sandwiches as well (we’ve been living on rice and noodles for almost six months now!)
    Your photos are really beautiful.

    Reply
    • Ivana

      Yes, sandwich diet was really something extraordinary if we look back :)
      Thanks guys, we are very glad you like the photographs.
      Take care and enjoy the road !!

      Reply
  3. Rob

    Such lovely photos and a great review of a country I hope to visit… one day…

    Shame about the unhealthy paparazzi tourists, but it’s good to hear the flip side of that with the Big Brother Mouse Project, fantastic idea.

    Reply
    • Ivana

      Laos is definitely worth of it to visit, Rob. If you like wonderful landscape and a bit more challenge on the road, then you guys should go for it :)

      Many happy travels :)

      Reply
    • Ivana

      Yes, we can laugh now, but was not that funny when we arrived there and saw the “room” :)

      Reply
  4. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    We’re heading to Laos in about a month, so this was a really helpful and insightful read for me. I’ve heard a lot of mixed things from fellow travelers about the country, but I think this is the most comprehensive and balanced account that I’ve encountered thus far. As we’re currently in Vietnam, I’m going to try to enjoy my fill of tasty local foods for our remaining time here and will save our indulgences in Western food for when we’re in Laos—sounds like the local food gets repetitive and mixing things up with international options will be necessary. I’m surprised that even though Laos is a much poorer country than Thailand and Vietnam that it does seem to be more expensive (sandwiches only cost about 60-80¢ here, for instance)—do you think this is tourist pricing at work, or just the way the country is?

    Also, I really enjoyed the photos in this post. Definitely showing the country at its best! :)

    Reply
    • Ivana

      Hi Steph,
      we are happy you have found the post helpful and that you like the photos. Much appreciated!
      Although we have been to three different places in Laos, we feel there is still sooo much to explore!
      Yes, the food was one of the issue we were a bit confused of… But after having eaten pretty much the same food in Thailand it was at least a change, that actually caused some more kilos on our weight from the “sandwich&crepe diet” 😀
      Well, regarding the pricing, it’s difficult to say, because it was the first time in Laos for us, so we cannot compare, but from what we have heard from our fellow travellers, the prices went up double since 2009. It’s very possible Laotians have started to take the tourist business “seriously” and the first steps they do is to rise the prices, unfortunately :( But the nature is just awesome and if you ride a motorbike, then you win!
      We wish you found beautiful spots in Laos and discovered something new for you!
      Have safe trips and looking forward to hearing about your Laotian adventures!

      Reply
      • Jane M

        Interesting post, because we loved Laos, but went only to the northern part, and didn’t go farther south than Luang Prabang. There is definitely tourist pricing going on with the food in the touristy cities you visited – we cycled from Dien Bien, in Vietnam, to Muang Khau, in Laos and then south to Luang Prabang from there. The small villages all had big markets where you could get noodle soups, fried noodles, mixed rice and other Lao dishes for next to nothing.
        If you’re going to Laos, it sounds like avoiding the south and heading north will give you a better, less tourist-oriented experience.

      • Ivana Greslikova

        I totally agree, Jane. We did our trip to Laos as complete travel newbies and did a few mistakes while planning. We’ve heard so many good things about Laos later that we blame ourselves we didn’t head to north at that time Well, now we know which areas we need to explore next time!

  5. a Blonde around the World

    This post is very valuable, thanks for sharing!
    Many things I didn’t know about Laos and that I will consider when eventually I’m gonna travel there!
    I wouldn’t expect Laotians to be sad people though, the many times I had to deal with these cultures (like indonesians/thai/philipinos) they were always so kind and happy, no matter if they were serving coffee or moping the dirty floor. I always admired such nature, and it’s frowning to know that laotian aren’t the same.
    I’ve been in Bali some years ago, and I also didn’t like the way priests and temples were treated, as a photoshoot background.
    It made me very sad to visit the Tanah Lot temple as well, and see that it had been arranged as a mall, serving drinks, food, and all kind of merchandise outside and inside the temple area..
    Although is understandable that these poor cultures try to get money out of everything :(

    Reply
    • Ivana

      Thanks for commenting, Pam. Thai people are people of smile, indeed :) Maybe that’s why Laotians seemed to us so sad compared to what we had experienced in Thailand. Sure, they are nice people, very humble and simple, but those who do not make business in Laos, for example, are a bit distant towards the foreigners, which is natural, in the end.
      The country is definitely worth to visit, and once you will find your favourite places there or hiking treks with awesome views, then you will love it!

      Reply
  6. SK

    Interesting your thoughts on Vientiane. I have been there many times. They have great little hotels that are very cheap compared to Thailand. $25-$45/night. Lots of wonderful restaurants all over the place. For a capital town of a country it’s wonderfully sleepy. I really like that about it. The fish dishes are fantastic almost anywhere you get it. Eating or walking by the Mekong river is fantastic especially at night time. The fresh coconut milk you can buy everywhere is great. The people are friendly. The coffee is good in many places.

    It’s all good as far as I can tell. There is even a great juice vegetarian place on the corner near the Mekong too.

    Reply
    • Ivana

      Thanks for commenting.
      Sure, there are plenty of places to stay in Vientiane for the price you have mentioned, but apparently we are travelling with different budget :) We found Laos definitely more expensive, regarding accommodation and food as well, but the nature, as we said in the post, is amazing!
      Cheers!

      Reply
      • Ivana

        Hi Milene, the tradition of orange (actually the official name is ‘saffron’) started long time ago, when there were only a few options of natural dye. In northern Thailand, monks used a dye from roots or trees that were the most available, for example jack fruit tree. In Tibet robes of the monks have maroon (chestnut) color, which was again the most common and cheapest dye in the past.
        Nowadays, I am not sure if they still use natural technique, but the tradition of the colors remains :)
        Happy travels!

  7. SK

    I also want to mention the Lao people are Isaan. Supposedly, the same Isaan people that are in NE Thailand. But, I do notice a definite difference. I much prefer the Isaan people in Lao. They are much warmer and friendlier. I lived in NE Thailand for years.

    Reply
  8. Misfer

    Thanks to you for this valued information. Now I learnt somthing new about the culture in that country.

    Reply
  9. Nigel

    The roads are so bad but it’s worth driving around for the scenery. Sounds strange but the mountains have ‘character’. I’ve nicknamed Laos – 50 shades of green! I was surprised by how cold it was in the north. It was a lot more expensive that I thought it was going to be, relative to other SE Asia of course. We went tubing for Christmas Day and had great fun. I thinks it’s calmed down a lot over the last few years. I’d really like to go back in a few years to see how things have progressed

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Nigel, I love your nickname for Laos :) I wish we have enjoyed the mountains from a motorbike rather than from a speedy minivan that made all passengers sick. Yes, we were also surprised by the same things: cold & prices, but we’d like to explore the south next time we are there, a few people said it’s worth it.

      Reply
  10. Dmitry

    This is very informative post. I like that you mentioned the bad with the good, as most people tend to showcase and talk about their positive experiences and allow others to fail. I like your writing style!

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Dmitry, nice to see a new travel couple out there! Thanks for the kind words and enjoy your adventure!

      Reply
  11. Franca

    I have to agree with you guys for many things. For instance me and Dale absolutely didn’t like how disrespectful people (mainly tourists) were with the monks in Luang Prabang during the early morning ceremony, such a shame! We didn’t spend a lot of time in Laos, but we weren’t hugely impressed, we need to return and spend more time there :)

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Yes, I know what you mean by going back, Franca. We heard too many good things about the north part and south part too from other travellers so it would be a shame to leave Laos unexplored :)

      Reply
  12. GiselleandCody

    We ended up spending a month travelling throughout Laos and it was not our favourite country. Intact it was probably one of our least favourite countries. We have heard from many people how incredible Laos is so we wanted to see for ourselves. For us a huge thing while we travel is food, and Loas had the the least memorable food on our trip throughout Southeast Asia.

    We didn’t have a bad experience nor were we ripped off in anyway. We just didn’t really enjoy our travels throughout Laos. :(

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      I have to agree with the food disappointment, guys. Not that we are vegans or picky, but it was hard to find local and cheap food there. And same here, we’ve heard so many good things about going more to the north of the country, so we might give Laos a second chance while fasting there a bit, too. Cheers from Chiang Mai and enjoy Koh Lanta!

      Reply
      • Cass

        I’ve spent a fair bit of time in Laos, and I have to say, if you’re adventurous to seek it out, the food can be amazing!! Mostly sticky rice and a different variety of dippings and meats. Ant eggs, water buffalo stew, whole fried frogs, various river weeds, bbq’ed meat, mushroom broth, sausages etc. Something different every day!!

  13. hogy

    Before I visited Laos, some people recommended me to visit the country. Now I am thinking they were really some of that richer ones, who don’t care to pay so much… anyway it is still much cheaper than in Europe. But for some long time budget-travelers it could be a lot.

    Unfortunately I have to say Laos was one of countries, where I didn’t feel very comfortable. Nature and temples are very nice, but people I didn’t like so much. Hmm, maybe it was as you said they don’t use to smile so often.

    Hitch-hiking there didn’t work very well. Fortunately I met Dave from South Africa living in Luang Prabang and he gave me lift from Cambodian border do Viantiane and what more, he even hosted me few days in Luang Prabang. I even got great local dishes cooked by their servant. That was really tasty. So I didn’t have to spend any money for sandwiches. :)

    Still when I count it all, I like north Thailand 100x more than Laos. Temples and nature are similar for me and Thai people are much nicer.

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Hogy, as we mentioned in the article, we don’t know Laos very well and all our impressions have been made just on the base of the experience in a few places within more than two weeks, which is definitely not enough. Nevertheless, I’d wait to re-visit the country since there are so many other places to travel to in Asia. We’ve been told by many fellow travellers that it’s worth to head to south or north, where are less tourists and therefore people are more genuine. Well, now we know, and if we go back to Laos, we’d certainly pick different destinations.

      Reply
  14. July Gadabot

    Hi Ivana!
    One more thank you for the great post about goods and bads in Laos. I am a little bit disappointed about so many negative comments, as we were going to visit Laos this winter and I expect it to be… not as described by many of your readers…

    My friend and I usually travel on a low-budget so I understand very well what you mean when talking about eating sandiwiches instead of having good dinner in the restaurant…

    My idea was to have a trip from north to south, from Vientiane to Si Phan Don by buses. How do you think is it possible to do on that crazy minivans?

    Привіт із України :)

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Pryvit, July :)

      The truth is, we travelled in Laos only to popular places that we mentioned in the post. At that time we were quite newbies travellers and we were following crowds, let’s say. But I heard people had very different experiences when travelling more north or even more south than we were. Regarding the minivans, if you’re car sick, make sure to take some pills before. Yup, they go fast and roads are very curvy. Some friends rented a motorbike there, which is also an option.

      Have a great time and let us know how is it going, we’d love to hear more!

      ps: I’ve seen you travelled to India before, so we might reach you out guys to ask for some suggestions in the near future.

      Ivana

      Reply
  15. Patrick

    I read this before going to Laos and now that I am back I have to say I agree on pretty much everything. I still feel Luang Prabang is a special place, but I did felt it a bit ‘fake’ and the monks ceremony was almost painful (though I expecting it after reading this post).

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Patrick, thanks so much for sharing! It’s sad to hear that the morning rituals haven’t changed since last time we saw them… Hope you got some more positive experience in Laos anyway.

      Reply
  16. Yvonne

    Great that you mention Big Brother Mouse, still the best local project we’ve ever come across. Glad we contributed, even though it’s just a small thing compared to all those kids who still don’t have books or a library to go to in Laos. When you return to Loas make sure to visit the South, around Attapeu for a whole different experience… no bored backpackers or begging kids there, since there are far less tourists here.

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Yvonne,

      Agreed, Big Brother Mouse is a great initiative! Hopefully they’ll expand it to other places than Luang Prabang and that there’ll be more of them in the country, too. Thanks for the tips! We’ll need to explore more places in Laos to get a better picture of it, that’s for sure :) Happy travels!

      Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Carmen,

      Thanks for the feedback! We haven’t had a chance to get to the Plain, so thanks for the link; at least we could see what we missed out. Cheers and happy travels!

      Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Thank you, Faith! I’m happy you’ve found the article useful. Are you planning to visit Laos any time soon?

      Reply
  17. Maria

    “On europe..for a 10-minute drive? Probably not.”

    Well greetings From Finland where the taxi starting price is 9€ and 10min drive can easily be 20-30€ :F

    Oh well, post it Self was nice to read and gives honest opinion! :)

    Reply
  18. Wouter

    Great blog Ivana!

    Lots off useful information.
    Pictures off Laos are fantastic! Have been there several times but i always get home sick when I see photo’s like these!

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Thanks, Wouter! Kudos for the photos goes to Gianni, my partner and the photographer of this blog :) Happy travels!

      Reply
  19. Ace

    Hey thanks a lot for sharing your experience in Laos.
    I appreciate the fact that you have written the bad part as well. As a photographer myself, I loved the pictures!
    Happy Travels :)

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Thanks for reading and your kind words, Ace. All the best on the road, too :)

      Reply
  20. Brenfd

    Thanks Ivana for this blog. I’m planning to visit Laos next month, so this article really gives me a headstart where to go especially that I’m traveling alone.

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      No worries, hopefully you’ll be able to see more of the country than we did :) Safe travels and enjoy Laos!

      Reply
  21. Camila

    I just found your post on Pinterest and it’s so useful! The more I research Laos and the more I want to visit it! No parties sounds great to me lol. This was such an insightful post, thank you!

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Thanks for reading, Camila! There are some parties going on in Vang Vieng, but we’ve heard the party scene in the town is much calmer than 5 years ago.
      Hopefully you’ll get there one day and explore Laos on your own :)

      Reply
  22. Dexter

    Luang Prabang has been my favorite destination so far. It’s so chill and laid back. Kuang Si waterfalls was really amazing and enchanting. This is a great post and surely is useful for those who wanted to visit Laos.

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Dexter!
      Kuang Si is just an amazing place, indeed. Have you tried swimming there? The water is freaking freezing there!
      Thanks for the feedback and happy travels!

      Reply

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