I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I have been to many remote and beautiful places, but nothing compares to the exotic country of Laos. Laos is flanked by the more popular travel destinations of Thailand and Vietnam and easiest reached by boat or bus; but trust me, it is a worthy stopover on any Southeast Asian adventure.
I crossed the border via bus just past Chang Rai, Thailand and hopped on a slow boat. My group cruised down the Mekong River for two relaxing days floating by beautiful scenery, the tiniest fishing villages I’ve ever seen, and temples built in to caves. We received a taste of local, slow-paced life while spending the night in Pakbeng, a small village on the Mekong that has had electricity for less than a decade. The entire town shuts down about 10 pm!
Our slow boat journey ended in Luang Prabang, a must-stop for anyone itching for activity! Here I biked the quaint streets, hiked to the stunning Kuang Si waterfalls, rode an elephant through the jungle, and ate delicious, local food like Laab salad. Luang Prabang also had the best local markets I saw in all of Southeast Asia with a plethora of craft vendors and exotic street food. The most humbling experience of my trip was giving alms to the monks at sunrise after they finished their morning prayers. It was a precious insight in to the Buddhist culture.
Vang Vieng is another stunningly beautiful spot with dramatic scenery, good food, and friendly people. My adventures in Vang Vieng included tubing through a cave and kayaking the Nam Song River during a rain storm. Plus, your journey is not complete without a tuk-tuk race through the streets, the only way to get from place to place within each city or town.
Whether you desire scenery, food, culture, or an active vacation, add Laos to your bucket list. It will not disappoint! –Ellen, June 2015
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