I am a new member to the travel fish forums. I have been checking out this website for the last couple weeks and it is a great resource. I will be traveling alone in Laos for 2-3 weeks as part of a larger trip this coming January/February. I am flying into Vientiane. Right now I have no concrete plans and I am looking for suggestions on where to go and what to do! I'm not really looking for the "backpacker" type experience with lots of partying ,etc. I really want to spend a lot of time in beautiful places/cities and would like to learn about the culture of this country. Of course, I am not opposed to meeting other travelers my age, staying in hostels, etc. Any and all suggestions are welcome! Thanks for taking the time to read this
I am suprised no one replied to this, then again, you could probably find LOADS of good suggestions by sifting through the forum. Also I would say, on the whole, asking a forum for a generic 'plan' doesn't yield great results.
Do you intend to go North or South? 2-3 weeks i would just pick one orthe other. North seems more popular overall. 'Culture' is pretty broad.Just being there ticks that box pretty well. What do you actually enjoydoing? are you a food tourist? do you like trekking? Are youinteresting in minorities/hill tribes? etc etc How are you leaving Laos? a flight? by land into Vietnam/China/Cambodia?
If you aren't looking to party then Laos is probably a good choice; it is not really a party country overall - not in the Western sense anyway. Of course, there is Vang Vieng and, at 22, i would still recommend going for a night or two if you can spare it. A good place to meet people.
Hope that helps [abit]
2-3 weeks is best for either just the North or just the South.
There is a great feature article on Remote Southern Laos in the Laos Section of the Stories tab. That is what I've been using as a keystone for my visit there. So, if you're heading into Cambodia or Southern Vietnam after Laos you could start by reading that.
If you're going to the North - there is a lot of hiking up by Luang Nam Tha , after going to Luang Prabang, you could head north stopping at Nong Kiaow-Muang Ngoi on your way to Luang Nam Tha (good if you're heading into Northern Thailand).
Gday mate, Ill throw a few suggestions your way. I have always traveled solo and am around your age, i have been to Laos 3 times (so far), so i feel a bit old hat. Im not sure if you have already left on your trip but if not this is what i would do.
Number 1 recommendation is Luang Prabang, it is a phenomenal place and if you can get there it is well worth the trip. It's so relaxed with a great party atmosphere of an evening but is a bit of a pain in the neck to get to from Vientiane unless you fly. This is where i spend the majority of the time in my trips to Laos these days, id live there permanently if it were viable and if my girlfriend would come with me.
I know Vang Vieng is oh so appealing for those in our age bracket but honestly, in the one time i ventured there i couldn't wait to leave and i most likely wont ever return in future trips to Laos (the Tubing and rope swings were really fun, its just the other idiot tourists that make it so unbearable, you might be one of those travelers who really loves it though)
Another suggestion if you only have a couple of weeks is to head South, first spend a bit of time in Vientiane, head down to Pakse and onto the 4000 islands aka Vang Vieng in the Mekong. Its less corrupted than Van Vieng (well, it was when i was there) and there are plenty of young foreign tourists about that you can seduce. Its also very cheap and is in an absolutely gorgeous spot. Great alternative to traditional islands.
"...would like to learn about the culture of this country."
You know, after quite a while listening to people on this site, I'm not sure what this means anymore. Specifically, what are people talking about when they talk about "culture" here?
food. dance. dress. markets. architecture. religion. holiday traditions. customs. attitudes. for me it is anything that is different from the day-to-day back home. it could be big things like temples or festivals or boat races or subtle stuff like removing shoes before entering a home or the way people greet each other.
this stuff can become quite ordinary when you live somewhere, but for a traveller, these things can be the highlights of the trip.
ihoopjaz it sounds like you have a very well defined and concrete plan already, I would wait until you get there to decide more. As I understand it you are flying into Vientiane.
I guess after you do that maybe find a black thick cup of coffee or maybe a place to stay in either order then crack open a guide book or ask someone where is good.
I'd take the names of the six towns you hear of the most and don't go there, but that's just me. Your only obligation is to enjoy yourself. Chock Dee!!
The reason I ask is because a lot of people write "I'm particularly interested in culture" - as if they wouldn't get exposed to that unless they went someplace special. The more I thought about it, the more strange it seemed to me, which is why I asked the question. Whether you hit the beach, or even go to Pattaya, you are going to experience a different culture. You don't have to go or do much of anything special to see different cultural norms - with the language caveat of course. Without language, no matter where you go that is going to be a major impediement to understanding the culture.
And you are right, those things are, for me, absolutely not interesting anymore. I appreciate quality architecture, and this was one of the big plusses living in Germany. Most of the archiecture here is crap though. But generally I'm not a huge "culture" fan anyway, and here all those things you mentioned are now very pedestrian. The language is, for me, the one exception. I find that aspect of the culture still very interesting.
If you like architecture, Mac, then you really should have a look at some of the colonial architecture in Lao before it crumbles away and disappears. I believe in Savannakhet they are attempting to preserve as much of it as they can. Also in Vientiane a number of offices have taken the shell of the building and restored it. The Nam Phou power building on Ave Lane Xang is a good example. I will take a photo of it if yiu like. Its a pity we can't post photos here.
I made a big mistake when I first came her in that I did not invest in land apart from my house block. I would be very comfortable financially now had i done so. However there are still opportunities and we are looking at them.
By the way, I fully agree about German architecture - fantastic. I also saw a documentary on Thursday about the new capital of Kazakhstan. There are some amazing buildings there.
Eastern Russia also has some old cities built in the 18th century that also have some incredible architecture. There are some interesting old buildings - yes mostly falling apart - in Savanakhet. The place is a dusty, atrophying mess. The kind of place that backpackers who like to imagine themselves as roughing it in remotes regions love. I have to make a visa run in May - so that's it, to Vientiane in May. Did you like the vid I sent you?
I didn't get your video. When you come in May, make sure that you let me know; there are some decent live music laces that have opened recently, eg the Galaxy Bar. This used to be a pickup joint and a knocking shop - probably still is, but the music is much better now. I cannot send you a pm so that you can get my home email. Mbe you can change your settings?