If you’re thinking of taking a trip to South East Asia then you must visit Laos. There are no ifs or buts about it (first and only song reference in this post I promise!). No doubts or uncertainties. Laos is the place for you.
I should probably start by saying that Laos was not originally on my ever-growing travel list. When I mapped out in my mind the countries I was going to visit, Laos got left behind. It was the filling in a Thai/Vietnamese sandwich, but at the time I was only interested in the bread. I had heard horror stories of tubing down dangerous rivers, threats by unwelcoming locals and theft from unsafe hostels. EVERYTHING a backpacker should avoid like the plague. It wasn’t until I got to Asia that I heard differently. I met people who had just left Laos, full of beans with bodies still in tact, possessions in hand, singing it’s praises. So obviously I just HAD to take a look for myself. We left Chiang Mai and travelled 14 hours by bus to Northern Laos, and it was from this point that I fell in love.
Firstly, and probably most importantly, Laos has bread! Yes, you read that correctly, BREAD. And not just any old bread; the freshly baked, white and doughy, delicious kind. Due to some French colonisation (admittedly I don’t know when that was specifically) you can pick up a fresh baguette on pretty much any street corner in the bigger cities. I know this sounds ridiculous, as the whole part of travelling is to experience new things, but when you’re homesick and on the other side of the world, a chicken mayo sandwich really will keep you sane.
Secondly, the scenery is amazing. The viewpoint I climbed in Luang Prubang was nothing short of breathtaking, whilst tubing down the river in Vang Vieng allowed me to enjoy mountain views from the comfort of my own rubber ring.
Lastly, and by no means least, the people I met compared to no others. I entered Laos in a pair and left with 3 new extra friends, friends who I continued to travel with for the next 4 weeks. I understand that this is completely subjective but how could I possibly leave this out? The whole point of travelling is to throw yourself into the thick of new experiences with like-minded people, so with the help of tubing I managed to secure myself some lovely new gal pals.