Laos is a small country stuck in the middle of Southeast Asia, perhaps overlooked due to its neighbor countries. It doesn’t have the size of China nor the popularity of Thailand. Maybe it doesn’t even have the excitement of Cambodia and Vietnam or the exotism of Myanmar. However, believe us, here are the Top 5 Reasons why you would be crazy to not visit this beautiful country and you will find many more during your trip!
Typical landscape you can find in Laos
1. Marvellous Nature
For sure one of the main reasons to visit this country is to marvel at its nature, explore mountains and its little villages, travel on its rivers or simply swim in them, explore the countryside and chill at gorgeous waterfalls.
You can travel along the Mekong by boat or visit the Kuang Si waterfalls near Luang Prabang. Regarding mountain areas, great villages to use as base to explore are Muong Ngoi and Nong Khiaw. Besides the mountains to trek, there is a special vibe in those places: relaxed environment that follows the river’s movement and cheap bungalows with hammocks on the balcony. Here you can fuel your readings or philosophical reflections (and perhaps taking a naps too!).
If trekking is your thing, a good base as well is Luang Namtha in the far north, near the border with China, with the advantage of being able to experience different ethnic communities and their cultures.
River that passes through Muong Ngoi and Nong Khiaw.
Another great place in terms of nature is the area around Thakhek and Ban Nahim, with lots of caves to explore and even a famous climbing spot. Even if not 100% natural, don’t miss Laos vast amount of coffee plantations in the south, on the Plateau Bolaven!
A cave waiting for you, a perfect place to cool down from Asian tropical climate.
2. Architectural Gems
Of course, being a Buddhist country, Laos is not only a natural wonder but has lots of architectural gems. The beautiful temples in Luang Prabang are a must see. Besides the capital, Vientiane, the whole country maintains a tradition of cute wooden houses that are wonderful to visit. Try some homestay in a village to get the full experience of living with a local family and experiencing their everyday life.
3. Smiling People & Street Life
Here is the other highlight of your Laotian trip: the population has a very simple and humble life. Especially in the south you will be greeted by countless smiles.
Also, as in other Asian country, it’s always interesting to pay attention to the street life happening all around you…
Street manicure in Vientiane.
4. Laos Secret War – Viengxai
We cannot forget the past conflicts the country suffered, especially the American secret bombings during the Vietnam War that damaged both Laos and Cambodia. An interesting place to visit related to this dark historical period is Viengxai. Here thousands of people were hiding in a complex system of caves and tunnels, basically an underground city, built to survive the bomb and napalm attacks.
Last but not least, Laos is the perfect place for some quietness and relaxation. For instance the 4000 islands in the south are filled with places with cheap accommodation and a chilling environment. You will probably want to stay for a while…
View from a bungalow in the Don Det island, just a couple of meters from the mighty Mekong.
Hope we gave you enough reasons to explore this beautiful country! Check the Camboticket website: there are all the ways to go from Phnom Penh to Don Det (in 4000 islands), Pakse and Vientiane, and from Siem Reap to Don Det, Don Khon (also in 4000 islands) or Pakse.
Some of the most memorable experiences on your trip will be when you get out of the “tourist bubble” and engage with the locals. If you do, there will be endless moments of unpretentious fun, innocent interactions and cultural learning. One interesting aspect in Asian countries is that its streets are, more often than not, used not only to commute but also as recreational spaces. Places where families and friends gather to have food or drinks, play or simply hangout. Moreover, considering the interest shown by the locals in games, a great opportunity for connection is to join every time you see them engaging in some sort of outdoor sport of hobby. Asian streets are for playing!
From some kind of version of checkers in Vietnam…
… to chess in Cambodia …
… to normal checkers in Laos but played with bottle caps!
Also in Laos, you can try petanque, a game left by the French during colonial times (and that you can also find in Vietnam and Cambodia, that were part of the old French Indochine as well)
Going to Thailand for a bit, why not joining local kids and playing with them?
In Vietnam, kids also seem interest to engage in some kind of king fu role play…
… while in Laos they still use many times traditional and beautiful toys:
In Vietnam, badminton is so popular that people don’t mind to set up the nets blocking the whole sidewalk…
… while in Cambodia they love to play with something very similar to the object used in badminton but with their feet (you can see it in the air in the middle of the photo, they kick it from one person to another without letting touch the floor)
If what you want is some exercise, why not joining some aerobic/dance classes that you can find in the streets of any Cambodian big city? (If you are in Phnom Penh check the riverside, the Vietnamese Friendship park and the Olympic Stadium)
The most important thing is to not only meet other travelers but also local people, learn their culture, have fun with them. This helps breaking the barrier that often is set by default between locals and tourists, the poor and the rich, the westerns and the “easterns”. Empathy and connection can start with such a simple thing as a game and, you know, Asian streets are for playing!
An easy getaway from Phnom Penh, Kampong Chhnang is a beautiful way to experience the
Cambodian rural lifestyle and its diverse cultures and ways of living. Being situated on a river
near the Tonlé Sap lake, its waterfront is composed by different villages made of wooden
houses on stilts and floating villages. Besides that, various different ethnic groups live happily
side by side, a must see if you are looking for an authentic cultural experience in your travels.
More peaceful is impossible.
So rent a bicycle and come explore the different villages, going around slowly to allow you to
engage with the locals – you will definitely hear a lot of hellos while you are passing, so take
your time to stop and engage in some conversations. Try as well to understand where the
people came from, because in this area you will find different ethnic communities. Besides
Khmer people, like the majority of population in Cambodia, you can meet some Cham families,
Vietnamese and Kampuchea Krom, ethic Cambodians that before lived in the Delta Mekong
(now part of Vietnam but during Angkor era belonging to the Khmer empire).
Cham girl in front of her cute house.
One of the most interesting communities due to its differences to the other ethnic groups is
the Cham people. They were part of the old Champa empire (that stretched from Cambodia to
south Vietnam many years ago) and are mostly muslim and with different traditions. You can
notice this for instance in the clothes they wear, the bits of Arab language you can find from
time to time, and the presence of a mosque in the village (the only mosque on stilts that we
Mosque on stilts, definitely a reason to go back during rainy season to see people go praying by boat.
During the monsoons the whole area is flooded and people have to travel to their houses by
boat, but during dry season you can have a great time cycling on the road along the river and
see the different villages and their people.
Lifestyle by the river.
Explore the various roads near the canals more close to the city as well, for a glance on the
beautiful traditional wooden houses on stilts.
We want to live here.
Besides the architecture, this is a great way to meet the locals and their way of life. They are
mainly fishermen due to the proximity to the Tonlé Sap lake, the most important source of
protein in the country’s diet.
The lake is upstream from the river, so if you want is possible to ask any local owner of a boat
to bring you there, passing of course through the fascinating Vietnamese floating villages.
Great opportunity to work on your bargaining skills!
Floating village populated by Vietnamese families.
Other option is to cross the river by ferry to go to Kampong Leang, where you can hike the
Neang Kong Rei mountains or visit some ancient temples, built before the Angkor era. But if
you are more into relaxing mode, on the water front you can also find Phsar Krom, a series of
small roads filled with shops and street food stalls, and a nice promenade to walk or chill out
with the locals.
Kitsch sculptures on the river front.
Hope we gave you enough reasons to come explore these communities and floating villages, have a look on Camboticket website for options on how to get here!
If you are already tired of seeing so many barangs (the local word for foreigners) every place you travel in Cambodia, you definitely should get out of the main routes that pass through Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville or Kampot. If your thing is going out of the beaten track, one worthy place to have a look is Kampong Chhnang. On the route from Phnom Penh to Battambang, and just two to three hours by bus from the capital, it’s a small town on a riverside leading to the gigantic Tonlé Sap, the largest lake on the entire Southeast Asia.
One of the most interesting things of traveling is to photograph and collect memories from your trip. But if one only take selfies or pictures of monuments there’s so much life and interesting stuff getting missed in your travel photo albums.
As the majority of backpackers end up staying in the area around riverside due to the amount of cheap guesthouses there, it’s quite common that most of the places they hangout in are around that area. But Riverside is definitely one of the least interesting in the city considering the type of dodgy bars you’ll find there… Phnom Penh has a lot to explore, and the nightlife scene is vibrant and filled with places for every taste!
A bit tired of the chaos and city pace of Phnom Penh? A short ride from it there’s a peaceful and relaxing island on the Mekong where you can experience a countryside lifestyle and genuine people. Rent a bicycle and come explore Koh Dach, also known as Silk Island due to its silk farms and weaving tradition.
With freelancing and long time traveling becoming more and more common, no wonder that digital nomad is now a trendy and common expression. And with Cambodia being a cheap and safe country, with lovely people and full of inspiration everywhere, it makes a lot of sense to be one of the stops to any digital nomad traveling around Asia.
In one of our previous articles (you can read it here) we talked about the paradisiacal wonder of the island of Koh Rong Samloem. But even if the island isn’t too big, with so many beautiful places to choose, one may gets confuse where to stay. Let’s have a look of the different parts of the island and share some tips for Koh Rong Samloem!
You like to visit Bangkok and experiment the city’s vibrant nightlife but you are starting to get a bit tired of the typical tourist bars in Khao San road? We totally understand you and have the perfect solution for it… here are some ideas of where to go within the many alternative places to go out and experience a different vibe of Bangkok nightlife!