Feel like you’re ‘done’ with South-East Asia? Got a sense you’ve seen and done it all? Think again, amigo. Laos offers up a totally different side to South-East Asia, one you most definitely have not experienced before. With its jaw-dropping scenery, beautiful locals, delicious food and amazing atmosphere, you’ll find yourself falling in love with Laos just like I did. To help you get inspired to visit for yourself, here are my 11 reasons why you should put Laos on your travel bucket list right now!
1. The landscape is undeniably breathtaking
I don’t really know what I expected from my first visit to Laos, but I can honestly say the sheer beauty of the landscape has taken my breath away. The scenery in Laos is totally different to what I’ve experienced elsewhere in South-East Asia, offering up some of the most incredible mountains and gorgeous views I’ve experienced in Asia. There’s a serene beauty all around, a sense the Earth has right of way and has decided to put one heck of a show to entertain visitors. Jagged mountain tops dot the skyline, bright blue skies abound and lush green jungle covers the land as far as the eye can see. It is truly beautiful and, seriously, unmissable.
2. You’ll fall in love with the locals
If you’ve visited South-East Asia before, you’ll know it’s famous for incredible hospitality. Somehow, the amazing people of Laos manage to kick that up a notch. I met so many genuinely lovely, welcoming and friendly people each and every day. On the street, you’ll be greeted with a big friendly smile and a wave. If you’re standing in a store, having trouble communicating, a local who speaks English will happily jump in and help translate for you. I found the locals to be peaceful and delightful, with no interest in ripping you off or pushing you to visit a local store, for example.
3. It has a distinctly peaceful vibe
In fact, the whole country has an incredibly peaceful vibe to it. I couldn’t help but find myself breathing deeply and feeling more and more relaxed each day. There was never any worry that someone might pick-pocket me, try to grab my bag as they whizzed past on a scooter or rip me off in any way. There’s a big feeling of ease and calm everywhere I visited and I loved how it allowed me to relax and really enjoy every place we visited. It’s so relaxing and chill!
4. There’s a simple, quiet beauty everywhere
Standing in the streets of Luang Prabang or gazing at the awe-inspiring limestone mountains and cliffs in Vang Vieng, there’s beauty all around in Laos. It’s an understated beauty, where the natural aspects of life really shine through, rather than being bombarded with luxury resorts and boutiques. Life in Laos is simple and this really reflects in what you see and experience while you’re there. The landscape is pretty much untouched and it makes for a totally unique experience than anywhere else I’ve been in South-East Asia.
5. You’ll get to try amazing food
Oh, the food! There’s so much great food on offer in Laos, which is probably why they sell those insanely comfortable, baggy, elephant pants on the street everywhere. You’ll find the food in Laos to be bursting with flavour, combining sweet, spicy, sour and salty. Must-try bites include spicy papaya salad, sticky rice, Lao sausage and Lao BBQ, grilled chicken and their famous baguettes. Basically just follow your nose and see where it leads you. Be sure to try the amazing Laos coffee – it’s awesome!
6. It’s totally different to Thailand and Indonesia
If you’ve been to Thailand and Indonesia and feel, after visiting those places, like you’ve ‘done’ South-East Asia, THINK AGAIN. Laos is totally different to either of these places. Where Thailand and Indonesia tend to be swarming with beach-hungry tourists, Laos offers a more remote, relaxed vacation. Yes, you’ll still see tourists, but not to the same level as you do in other places. There isn’t that same overwhelming party scene, where tourists sporting Bintang singlets buzz past on scooters. Instead, you’ll find Laos offering up insanely gorgeous scenery and a feeling like you’re discovering a relatively untouched part of Asia. It’s fantastic.
7. All the nature!
Whether you’re whizzing around on a boat along the Mekong, riding a bike through Luang Prabang, exploring Hmong villages or discovering winding roads and mountains outside Vang Vieng, you’ll fall in love with the nature and scenery in Laos. It’s so beautifully green, swarming with dense, lush jungle that instils a huge buzz of wanderlust right in your chest. It’s all you can do to contain yourself. It’s seriously beautiful and a playground for anyone who loves the great outdoors.
8. It’s really affordable
True to form, you’ll find Laos offering up what we tend to love most about South-East Asia; an affordable holiday. You’ll find the food, shopping and accommodation all extremely affordable. It’s easy to get around and easy to have a really great holiday without breaking the bank. Perfect!
9. The weather is fabulous
Where Indonesia and Thailand can be crushingly hot, Laos seems to offer a slightly cooler option. The days are filled with blue skies and glorious sunshine and, admittedly, it can get quite hot in the middle of the day. But, you’ll find the weather absolutely glorious. It’s exactly what you want from a holiday in a tropical location and with all that tropical fruit and cold Laos Beer going around, you’ll be more than content.
10. The sunsets are next-level amazing!
A sunset in Vang Vieng will change your life. Picture insanely picturesque limestone mountains, dotted with dense greenery, the river running in front of you with brightly coloured boats buzzing past. The sun is glowing a perfect orange in the sky, it’s not too hot or too cold, it’s the perfect temperature and you have a cold Laos beer in your hand. This is the reality of a Laos sunset, they’re incredible and you’ll love every single one you catch.
11. Culture, history and tradition
Aside from all the things that make it great for visitors, Laos also offers a rich history and culture steeped in tradition. For example, in Luang Prabang, you’ll find Monks wearing bright orange robes. Each morning the monks take to the streets to humbly beg for their daily food, offered up by locals and visitors. This ancient practice teaches the Monks humility and is a magical thing to be part of. It’s just one of the many amazing things you can see, learn and experience in Laos that’ll teach you about their wonderful culture and history.
Useful travel resources for your trip to Laos
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Agoda – one of our go-to sites for booking hotels
Skyscanner – our go-to for booking flights
RentalCars.com – a great search engine for renting a car
Booking.com – another of our go-to sites for booking hotels
TourRadar – a great search engine for booking tours
Uber – our go-to ground transport option