This is a post with very little practical value. Laos is my favourite place in the whole world, and I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that. I wonder which places in the PDR are other people's favourites?
I have two I can't split: The Katamtak waterfall and Mr Boune Hom's Bungalows on Don Dhet.
The falls are really not very impressive compared to some, but they are so deserted and such a bugger to get to, that being there is really quite special. Certainly you've proven your trail bike riding credentials.
Mr Hom's place on Don Dhet? All I can say is that I have never been anywhere on Earth where everyday cares and worries evaporated more quickly. (And at 64 years old, I have been to a fair few other places)
I wonder which other places appeal to readers of Travelfish?
#1 BigRoss has been a member since 17/2/2007. Posts: 19
The Nam Fa
There's a river drainage in the north west called the Nam Fa. Below Veing Phuka the Nam Fa is not navagatable by any sort of boat. The river finaly empties into the Mekong about 100 km further. To the south the area is bounded by the road to Huay Xai and up north the road From Muang Sing to Xiengkok. Currently no motorcycles can enter, even during the dry season.
I've taken long walks in the area three times. During my last walk some villagers told me treks from Vieng Phuka had been to their village before, so I know I wasn't far from a road accessible from Veing Phuka. I've always walked and hired a guide from Muang Long to the north.
The area is vast and has never been cut. Mountains and rivers lead to more mountains and rivers. There are many villages, and always the villagers tell of another village a day's walk away. I've gotten lost and found myself tens of kilometers away from where I thought I was.
The people are mostly Akha. They often light their houses with batteries and LED lights from China. The rice crop has been good for a couple of seasons, I saw full granaries and fat babies. All the men hunt and the forest is plentiful with game. They hunt with sling shot, cross bow, long muzzle loading rifles, and dogs. All animals fear the dogs of the Akha.
To access go to the town of Muang Long and ask around for the tourism office. Expect it to take some time to get there, to make arrangements, and to walk. No they don't make reservations.
The good part is that I doubt this area is unique in Laos, I'm sure there are many such roadless areas even more remote. I just happened to find this one.
"This is a post with very little practical value."
Favourite place in Laos, hmmm, it's difficult because in Laos I've always found a lot of the pleasure/adventure is the trip there. We once took a speedboat upriver from Huay Xai for about an hour to a village, then hiked inland to a neat waterfall and a tiny hot spring -- neither the waterfall or the hotspring was entirely memorable, but the trip as an allround experience was great.
Sleeping on the riverbank on a three day boat trip from Luang Prabang to Vientiane -- we were the only passengers the entire time.
taking a boat upriver from Pak Tha to Pak Hat, from where we hired a Russian jeep to take us to Pha Udom -- incredible scenery and well off the beaten track.
Motorbiking from Attepeu to Pakse via the southern route.
Cycling around Don Khong
Striking up the Nam Kading river by pirogue...
I could run off a lot more -- the great thing about Laos is you can get ten travellers together and they can each tell you a half dozen things they loved -- and they'll all be different!
#3 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,738
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The whole idea of a favourite places conjures up the opposite - a less than desirable place. So, when combining the 'favourite' place with the other, the country/object of attention becomes all worthwhile.
For me, my favourite place in Laos is, just, Laos.
Laos is just as friendly, but less busy, than Thailand. It is a relaxed contrast to the sales pressure that is Vietnam. And, it is a whole lot more peace-able than Cambodia.
So, for me, the relaxedness that is Laos - and by definition such an education for we busy westerners - makes Laos a favourite place.
Favourite place in Lao? Yes...I agree with B-Moon here. Favourite place in Lao is --- Lao.
And I'm greatly looking forward to returning.
(But - PS - Luang Prabang was terribly appealing ;)
I don't want to get off track either, but you are talking about:
An illegal Government that has effectively disenfranchised a good portion of the electorate.
A ruling elite who permanently wants to disenfranchise a good part of the electorate because it doesn't like the election results.
A country whose foreign minister is a clown.
Extreme dissatisfaction between different groups in society almost resulting in a civil war.
An economy that is a declining rapidly in comparison to other countries in the region.
A PM who is a puppet and does not have the support of the majority.
A country whose military has more generals than any other country in the world, and I don't mean per capita.
A country who is using medieval lese majeste laws to keep dissent under wraps and in doing so is making itself an international laughing stock.
You think "its alright"????
Btw I used to live in Thailand. The Lao government, despite being communist, is far more sensible in its approach that the present Thai circus performers.
I suggest you read some of Giles' Ungpakorn's articles.
The Thai government has some long standing issues, but relative to the world around us, it's OK. Now Burma is a mess. And talk about disenfrachised... I think you could use that term to describe the people of Laos don't you?
Bottom line: The Thai economy and infrastructure is far superior to that of Laos. The government, in spite of it's tighter restrictions, is still more foreign friendly than Laos where:
a. There's on retirement resident visa available.
b. Having sex with a Laotian can land you in prison (and we're not just talking prostition here - a completely legitimate relationship with a significant other you met in the US could still land you there).
I'm glad you like it, but in measurables it's not superior to Thailand.
Nac, regarding point a). You are probably not aware that the Lao govt has recently passed legislation which will allow foreigners to become "honorary citizenz". This means that you qualify for a Laos passport without giving up your own citizenship, you can buy and own land in your own name, obviously you can stay as long as you want. They are currently working out the details to ensure foreigners don't come in and buy heaps of land, thus pricing the locals out of the market. this is far more liberal than anything Thailand has ever had.
I guess you are unaware the in Thailand you can become a Thai citizen. A full Thai citizen with all rights pertaining thereto. And can still retain your previous citizenship. It isn't easy, but one of the expats here has done it... she is now a judge in Thai family court here and a highly respected member of the community.
I'd just like to say that when I started this thread, I thought it might be nice if we could share a few reminiscences about the less-travelled parts of Laos, and maybe share a few ideas about what's fun to do there. I certainly didn't intend to provide an arena for the clash of two mighty egos, or a venue for rather childish squabbling about the merits or otherwise of the local governments.
#17 BigRoss has been a member since 17/2/2007. Posts: 19
>>> "I certainly didn't intend to provide an arena for the clash of two mighty egos, or a venue for rather childish squabbling about the merits or otherwise of the local governments."
Well said, MADMAC!
Now, what about favourite places in Lao? Anyone??
OK favorite place in Laos... you forced me into it.
Dao Cafe, only because I have a great story from the place (and I like the beer there).
Dao Cafe is in downtown Savanakhet, in a trashy square with an atrophying Catholic Church at one end. Most of the buildings are falling apart, and the middle of the square, which should have grass and tress, has concrete - which the kids like to play soccer (football for my European friends) on. Dao cafe is obscenely expensive by Savanakhet standards and expect to drop at least 300 baht a meal there - but the food is excellent to go with the excellent imported beer, and the building itself was renovated to perfection - thus standing out in this dilapitated square.
Anyway, I order a club sandwidch and a beer and am sitting on the terrace outside watching the kids play soccer. Along comes my club sandwidch, and since I am a dwarf, I can never eat it all. It's four halves, not two, plus a big heeping of fries. I just start eating and this utterly filthy beggar comes along, drops to his knees, practically kisses my feet (which I hate) and starts begging. Poor bastard looked like he hadn't eaten in a week and hadn't visited a dentist ever. A shower wasn't in the offing either. Anyway, the waiter goes to shoo him away and I intervene and offer him a seat at my table. I then asked for another beer and an extra plate - the waiter ain't figured anything out yet - and out comes the beer and I promptly fork half of my food onto the new plate and give it to the filthy beggar. With a big ol smile he digs in, starts drinking the beer and chowing down. The waiters were intensely uncomfortable, but we were paying customers (and I go there every time I'm in Savankhet) so what to do? Grin and bear it. We finished the sandwidch (tried to have conversation, but his Thai sucked, and my Laos is all but nonexistent, so it wasn't much of a discussion) and ordered some desert. It was hillarious (cost me about 750 baht too!!!) Best meal I ever had in Laos.
So Dao Cafe - my favorite place in Laos.
The Lao government discourage begging or giving to beggars as it degrades their society, instead give to a local NGO or a village elder. It was exactly for these cultural reasons that you recieved disapproving looks Madmac. If you are at all atuned to Lao/Tai social norms you know how generaly accepting they are of all kinds of behaviour. Why not take a hint.
They also discourage sex tourism and a long laundry list of other social ills. They are not looking for boorish drunks. shoes in the house, feet on the table, pats on the head, unsolicited photos, and so on.
There's a very polite list of suggested "dos and don'ts" put out by the tourism authority that bears reading.
What about a favorite place story that actually talks about,,, a place.
"The Lao government discourage begging or giving to beggars as it degrades their society, instead give to a local NGO or a village elder. It was exactly for these cultural reasons that you recieved disapproving looks Madmac. If you are at all atuned to Lao/Tai social norms you know how generaly accepting they are of all kinds of behaviour. Why not take a hint."
Well, as in most of it's other endeavors, the Laos government isn't doing a very good job of reigning in beggars. They're everywhere in Savankhet. Perhaps because they have a socio-economic system that wouldn't pass muster with a tribe of barbary apes. This guy was hungary, he wasn't nurting anybody, and if the Laos government or "culture" doesn't approve, frankly I don't give a shit.
Furthermore, maybe you are unaware of this human trait, but beggars and homeless make people uncomfortable everywhere in the world - this isn't a Laos or Thai cultural trait, it's a universal one. Try eating at a posh restaraunt in New York and invite a bum to your table - the wait staff will be equally uncomfortable. Sometimes making people uncomfortable is OK. This was one of those times.
Also, I wouldn't give to an NGO if you paid me. They spend too much money on overhead, and village elders will steal it as often as not - there's no audit trail there. When it comes to money, Laotians (perhaps because they don't have much) often can't help themselves. Same for Thais. Just the way it is. Ask my wife. I give direct aid to people I know who need it. In my wife's village and here in Muk there are plentuy of those. I won't give money to beggars on the street because many are controlled by gangs, but I will give them food.
"They also discourage sex tourism and a long laundry list of other social ills. They are not looking for boorish drunks. shoes in the house, feet on the table, pats on the head, unsolicited photos, and so on."
But they are looking for money. And so the boorish drunks of VV are entertained, the hookers are brought in from Vietnam to entertain non-Laos / Thais, and they even allow cheapskate backpackers to roam around and speak to them in a condescending manner. Guess what? If you want tourist dollars, you have to pretty much put up with what goes with them. This is a universal truth, not just one pertaining to Laos. The ony way to get rid of (or minimize - you don't get rid of) the boorish behavior is to close your society to tourism (North Korean style) or raise the quality of life to such a point that it's too expensive to be boorish (central Europe). The boors have to go somewhere, don't they?
"There's a very polite list of suggested "dos and don'ts" put out by the tourism authority that bears reading."
I wonder if "Don't talk about politics because we are an oligarchy running this place and don't want anyone to upset the applecart" is on it?
Regardless, there isn't much put out by the Laotian government that I would respect, since I don't respect that government. In 1975, the wrong side won.
"What about a favorite place story that actually talks about,,, a place."
Dao Cafe is a place.
I did some weeks ago, and I think SomTam nearly died (thinking of a potential jail term). His 'solution' was to censor. Mmmm!!!!
I can see you are passionate about your views, but may I suggest Travelfish is NOT the place for great long exhortations about the culture / politics / administration of the region. Some, yes, but...
The censoring was in relation to comments that were posted about the Thai Royal family -- off the top of my head I can't think of another topic (aside from spam and solicitations) where I've censored/deleted text -- believe me I have better things to do with my time.
I travel to Thailand frequently and have no interest in being arrested. As the site owner, I'm readily identifiable, while members who post material on Travelfish are protected by an anonymous username.
#30 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,738
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I'm with Somtam here. The subject of the Royal Family is a very sensitive one to Thais and to the Thai government. It's just not worth talking about.
I just mentioned a story about sharing a sandwich, which got the diatribe on the "respecting Laos culture" nonsense started (as if giving a guy a sandwich is disrespectful of Laos culture - how ridiculous).
We all know that discussing the Royal Family is a no go - but discussing the government, no problem. I can say Abhisit is an idiot and there won't be any repurcussions (Although I don't actually think he's an idiot - under the circumstances he's doing OK). But I wasn't the one who brought Laos politics into the discussion.
Another favorite place in Laos... That Phanom used to be in Laos, does that count?
I think it's a great idea to have a thread (pan-Southeast Asia) regarding "how we respond when local culture and mores conflict with our own." This is an issue that is worldwide, really.
Related to this is the matter of traveling to countries whose political system or regime is non-democratic, repressive, etc. Not that I have avoided such places, obviously (Lao, Viet Nam, Spain under Franco, Eastern Europe before the wall came down, and so on). But, many are concerned about seeing/experiencing these places balanced against tangentally supporting the regime. Perhaps a good topic.
Somsai, I noticed your reference to "long muzzle loading rifles". I've seen them too, and was struck by the extraordinary length of the barrels. Do you (or anybody) know if these are rifles or shotguns, and why do they make the barrels so long?
I wonder what the most common game is that they hunt. I've often seen people in markets offering very small deer (which appeared to have been shot)for sale, and some odd, cat-like animals, as well as squirrels. Can anybody help me out with the "proper" names for these animals?
#37 BigRoss has been a member since 17/2/2007. Posts: 19
A rifle is called that because the inside of the barrel is, well, rifled...
When weapons manufacturers recognised that if they could reduce the by-pass gases from the exploding (then) gunpowder (later cordite, and now nitrocellulose), they tried all sorts of methods to make the projectile (bullet) as close fitting to the (inside) bore as possible. But, a small amount of gas needs to by-pass the projectile to ensure correct range. They found that by making the projectile turn as it left the muzzle, it also had a far greater propensity to actually hit the intended target. So, by making the bore with slight grooves in helical fashion along the bore, the projectile is both moving forward and rotating at the same time.
The length of the bore also had much to do with the relative amount of gunpowder available to be used. As gunpowder was expensive, and the capacity to produce projectiles that fit snugly in the bore wasn't then altogether good, manufacturers found that having a long bore assisted in getting the projectile to hit to aimed for spot. Many (usually cheap) long bore weapons did not also have a rifled bore.
A gun is different in that it does not have rifling.
Some guns rely on multiple projectile components to 'occupy' the bore while being shot. These are commonly called shotguns.
- - -
The animals to which you refer might best be identified if you go to:
- - -
A few months ago, I encountered a European lady who had done her doctorate on the dietary nutrition of ethnic Lao.
She was saying that traditionally, ethnic (ie hilltribe) communities never ate buffalo (its a working animal), reserved pig for festivals, had some chicken (but only when there were an overabundance as the eggs were more important), and so they tended to use the (then) forest fauna as their source of protein. With the rapid denudation of forests to generate short term profit for the regional elite, coupled to the massive influx of military weapons during the 'independence movement' of the 1970's, access to and availability of forest fauna rapidly diminished. Now, the ethnic communities were being denied that source of protein. In the main, they have resorted to using field rodents.
As an aside, the Doctor also said that prior to the nationalisation of Laos, ethnic communities in dryland grain areas grew a variety of grains: millet, various rices, rye, etc. She indicated that the essential oils from the variety of grains (other than rice) served well the bodily needs for oil and micronutrients.
Her observations are important. She has consistently found that marginalised ethnic communities are malnourished, bone density structures are reducing, developmental growth patterns compromised, and the propensity to address disease diminishing rapidly.
She was adamant that the lack of cash income as a consequence of poppy destruction, coupled to a loss of wild fauna, means that without long term financial aid, these groups will probably slowly starve or be forced to migrate to cities (further compounding the problem of polarised wealth distribution in the region).
So much for 'progress'.
Thanks Bruce, but my question was "Are these rifles or shotguns (that the locals carry)?" My suspicion would be that they are shotguns, and the great length of the barrels is an attempt to gain a tighter pattern of shot without using a choke. I found this unusual, as they were using them in thick scrub (or "jungle" if you like) where I would have thought a wider pattern would have been advantageous, especially if shooting at birds at relatively close range. Anyone have any suggestions why the extraordinarily long barrels?
That "mammal" site is really good. The animals I was enquiring about seem to be the mouse deer and the palm civet. (If I'm wrong would some expert zoologist please put me right.)
#39 BigRoss has been a member since 17/2/2007. Posts: 19
To get pack to the original question ... Luang Prabang. Sure, it's the easy answer, but it's also the honest one. I was there for 6 days and that wasn't enough time. I want to go back. Preferably tomorrow.
#40 amazon_blonde has been a member since 20/12/2008. Posts: 116
i clicked on the title of this topic hoping to find some interesting views and comments regarding places in beloved laos; instead some wiseguys are poluting this forum again (similar to the LP) with their frustrations and totaly unrelevant , socalled "political comments". Rufus and macmac go whine on the thaivisa forum with all the other would like to be somebodies pls and leave my country, Thailand, alone. We are in the best available hands right now and we will manage ourselves out of the devestating toxin-tsunami years. I also wonder what ranting about rifles and shotguns are benificial to this forum.We can find all this on the Wikipedia.....hopefully explained with real expertise.
Stuart, you have a fabulous and unique website : keep it interesting for what it is supposed to be: tarvelling in SE Asia.
Please monitor the nonsense out of it or many will start to shy this forum and will go the way the LP went. Thank you all.
The admin created a new part of the forum just for us "wiseguys" to discuss those topics so annoying. So no worries mate.
Remember, you are as free to criticize my country (everyone else does) as I do yours. And I actually like Thailand a lot. If I didn't, I wouldn't live here.
Narong, if you think your country is in the best of hands, then I pity you for your lack of Thai political knowledge and historical knowledge. Abhisit is totally incompetent. More than half of your country is disenfranchised and you are now regarded by Forbes as slipping badly down the scale of SEA countries. Indonesia is more politically stable and economically sound than Thailand today.
Way off on a tangent here -- if you've something to add about what you consider to be great places in Laos, then please do, but otherwise -- you know where it belongs! Culture & politics branch
#46 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,738
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Thank you for that Somtam2000, also thanks to you madmac for your diplomatic/adult reaction; i know i shouldn't have bothered to react .....; our last visit to southern Laos brought us to the places that the poster, BigRoss, mentioned and they were indeed some of the highlights for us too; we also found historical champasak to be very impressive, we enjoyed our stay here at the very friendly Khamphoui GH.
one of my favourite places in Laos...is a window seat on an ordinary bus during good weather. on the side of the bus that will get the best views of passing mountain scenery, & near the front of the bus. on 20-seater buses, one of the single passenger seats at the front. with a window that isn't stuck, so that it can be opened for photos to be taken, food to come in, people to crawl out when it's really crowded, & vomit to fly out (not mine, am immune to motion sickness)...& closed when huge trucks roar by on dusty roads. with an adequate supply of plastic bags for abovementioned vomit. with a good driver & entertaining bus crew + passengers who take care of one another & share food & water & stories & their wicked sense of Lao humour. with my Lao-Eng/Eng-Lao dictionary so that i can learn new stuff from all the interesting people. & ideally, a bus that pulls into a bus station that hasn't been shifted kilometres out of town :P
Vang Vieng, and Luang Prabang. Most amazing places. So much to do and see.
#49 eml924 has been a member since 16/4/2009. Posts: 6
I could park myself in the beautiful village of Xam Tai in HOuaphon Province. Nary a westerner, excellent people/company. Quiet. Calm. Best textiles in the world....
#53 StillWithUs has been a member since 16/11/2006. Posts: 2
rereading my post i admit i sort of overreacted; still, we have been confronted with the nightlife in siphandon last december and it appalled us, definitely seen some "aborrational behaviour". Never been to Vang Vieng and never will.Guess we're too much attracted by the simplicity of life there.
It's the simplicity of life there that prevents me from going very often. Different strokes for different folks.
But I am hoping that somewhere in Laos there is some decent nightlife that's as yet been undiscovered. Probably not.
I had a brilliant time in Laos and would say it was one of favourite places I've been to so far. The best places I visited were probably Phonsovan and Sam Neua. We always seemed to end up deep in conversation with the local people and even got invited to dinner in Sam Neua. The openness and friendliness in the slightly more out-of-the-way places is just fantastic. Personally I love the slow, steady pace!
I only joined this forum today, but have been visiting Laos for 12 years now, even lived there for a few years.
I travelled in some of the area that Somchai mentioned, near Muang Long and north of Vieng Poukha, the Akha village of Ban Thong Lat which at that stage (2007) was as far as the road went.
On the way there, and interesting Hmong village, Ban Tha Luang.
In Muang long i had the privilege of attending an ordination of two young men as priests in the Lanten village of Ban Nam An. Lanten (Yao Mun) practice Taoism.
Bruce >A few months ago, I encountered a European lady who had done her doctorate on the dietary nutrition of ethnic Lao. <
Can you give me a reference to her or her thesis? We are working on Northern Lao cookbook, and would be interested in reading it.
we stayed for a week in a place that is not that scenic!!
We found a little place to eat and got friendly with some locals. Only ever saw a handful of travellers and it was almost like we were the celebrities in town!
@triplinky, can you please name a few places which are must to visit?
#62 piranha has been a member since 3/12/2010. Posts: 18
I am more into nature.
#63 piranha has been a member since 3/12/2010. Posts: 18
Luang Prabang Cruises one of the best way to enjoy Laos tour.
#64 robertjohn has been a member since 10/2/2011. Posts: 5
Now that I've been around a lot more - I'd have to say I really love the Bolaven Plateau motorbike trip after Tad Lo you're off the tourist track, its got a lot of fun villages to stop in, interesting towns to scope out (best to bring a friend and a book as not much to do) - greatest part of the trip was the dirt road between Attepeu and Paksong, but that's getting paved to increase trade between Thailand and Vietnam so get there while the gettings good.
Though I'd also say that Champasake was nice - it's what I imagine Luang Prabang was like many years ago - but smaller.
it was a great time, i had a blast meeting your family. don't forget to use my email to find me on facebook. if i can talk Sophie into Vientiane next year we may be in the area.
One of a very nice days in Laos included a trip to ruins of Wat Tomo near Champasak . We enterded through a "back door", so there wasn't anyone, except the red-black insects all over the ground and old stones and jungle noise and rays of sunlight coming through the big trees. Very atmospheric.
Cycling on Don Deng was also nice and swimming afterward in Mekong.
And the most leisurely guest house was Vongpasued in Champasak with it's ever-laughing owner :)
#68 nipitiri has been a member since 30/10/2010. Posts: 6
thanks for your info.........
#69 kathywordolf has been a member since 4/7/2011. Posts: 1
Doing "the Loop" on a scooter is an adventure you will not forget easily. Highlyrecommended :-)
#70 AsaGislason has been a member since 14/7/2011. Posts: 2
I would recommend a dirt bike as I've heard some of the unimproved roads can be pretty rough. I met a couple of dirt bike riders in Savanakhet and they told me the road from Tschepone north along the Vietnamese border would have been most unpleasant without a dirt bike. Now I've never been, but other travelfishers here have said some of the roads on "the loop" get pretty rough.
After spending 3 weeks in Laos (not enough time at all!) my favourite spot would definitely be Muong Ngoi Neua, upriver from Nong Kieauw, which is north of Luang Prabang. Muong Ngoi was teensy, only had electricity from 6pm til 11pm, and the availability of certain foods was very variable - we stayed there for 4 nights (most tourists only stay 2 at the most), and I could have stayed there forever. There was pretty much zilch that we had to worry about, apart from which book to read next, and which small "restaurant" to eat noodle soup at. It was glorious just lounging in a hammock and watching the river Ou, the buffalo, the mist moving in over the mountains opposite, and the gentle rain. Heaven.
#72 podus has been a member since 23/8/2011. Posts: 4
I echo the sentiments of those who have noted the loveliness of Laung Prabang. It's night market, the Kuoang Si waterfall nearby, an incredible garden bar/cafe high on the cliff overlooking the Nam Khan river called, appropriately, Utopia. I've particularly enjoyed watching locals and backpackers co-creating live music there. Also crossing the rickety bamboo bridge to while away a few hours before watching the sunset at the Mekong cafe...
But my favorite was taking the small boats ever so slowly up the Nam Ou to Muang Ngoi. Such beautiful lush countryside, such peace to watch the quiet fishing and the children swimming and marvel at the work being done on such steep hillsides. And Muang Ngoi, with only river access and limited electricity, was a delightful and fun place to spend some days walking, eating well, reading and watching life unfold.
I haven't been to southern Laos yet. Tentative plans for early 2012. Appreciate reading people's memories and recollections.
#76 EmBees has been a member since 13/12/2008. Posts: 7
Im planning a trip here very soon, Iv spent about 30mins just on this thread alone, reading through all the comments, so thanks for all the great ideas!! The one question i would have is how long would i need to spend in loas to comftably see alot of this?? (we dont mind doing things on the cheap and dont really want to spend long in one place)
Thanks for the help again :)
#79 kfchris1 has been a member since 6/9/2011. Posts: 14
With the exception of moi - no one who doesn't favor it will post here. Trust me. Laos appeals to the sort of person who is looking for a slow, simple place that is markedly different from a western society. The kind of person who tends to lean politically to the left, somewhat rejectionist, looking for an "idyl" (which Laos most certainly is not - no one party state is) likes Laos. "Travellers" like it precisely because it's not the kind of place that appeals to the mainstream (of course, it does appeal to a mainstream backpacker - but that's a different animal from the beach bum or sex tourist). Since The Kingdom of Bhutan is drawing your appeal, Laos should as well. Of course my favorite country is Somalia... so maybe my advice is best not followed on this subject.
You make Somalia sound quite appealing, Mac. Cuisine, scenery, interesting people. However, I imagine the need for body armour and automatic weaponry will probably deter a lot of folks from going there.
No. American politicians are collectively paralyzed. Not quite the same thing. I love the Somalis, but they're nuts. Just flat out nuts. It seems like they are always trying to kill everything and anything around them. Like Jack the Ripper on steroids.
Have to preface by saying I flew into Luang Prabang and headed north. The slow boat up the Nam Ou and Nong Khiaw were among my best travel experiences, EVER....regardless of country. I continued on to Luang Nam Tha and did a trek which was also amazing. Another great experience was renting a mountain bike some days and just "getting lost" around LNT....Didn't even swelter from the May heat I was having such a blast! Back to Laos this week and starting in Vientiane this time....
#89 blackpepper14 has been a member since 23/11/2009. Posts: 23
Been a year since I went now but having nostalgia now so feel the need to contribute to this.
North of Vientiene I loved Luang Prabang. Took the slow boat in from up north. Accomodation not that hard to find. After 2 nights I went in search of one of the only backbackers in the town - compared to the small amount extra for a room in a guesthouse, backpackers definitely not worth it.
The whole town is pretty tidy compared to a lot of places I went. Beautiful french influenced buildings. The night markets are awesome, I just wish it was further towards the end of my trip so I could have bought more stuff to bring home.
There's a bar somewhere on the western side of the little hill in the middle of town. Best bar I've ever been to. It has a volleyball court which I found myself playing on for hours and completely forgetting to actually have a beer. The giant dare jenga is always great entertainment, whether you're playing or just watching in the hilarity. Afternoons overlooking the Khan river on the bamboo balcony are incredibly relaxing.
The other favourite place I went to was in Don Det. THE most relaxed place. Loved the fact that following that tourist trail down from the top of Laos still had me bumping into mates I'd met from way further north. Best day I had was a quiet one by myself. Hired a bike with a pretty pink basket on the front and went in search of the infamous waterfall. I obviously took a serious wrong turn and ended up going right to the top of the other island that the waterfall is on. Was a massively long ride, but was a great adventure. There's a tiny little food place and a gigantic concrete slab that looks like its used to pull boats of some sort out of the water. Ventured back in search of the waterfall and took another small path and came accross a beach! Perfectly tempered water with lots of calm areas to swim in. Not that many people around at all and getting lost in a book here for a couple of hours in pure bliss.
Managed to get a flat tire on my bike (the roads really are terrible for bikes) at this point but had been told the waterfall wasn't far away. The walk back would have been a good 2 hours or so. The waterfall was actually not terribly impressive. The beach and the top of the island were my favourites. But I did manage to get a lift back with one of the tour groups. The driver was hilarious:
Me: "Can you please please please give me a lift back to don det village"
Driver: "Hmmm 10,000 kip"
Me: "I'll give you 20,000"
Driver: "No no, 10,000"
Me: "I'll give you 20,000 kip, I just don't want to walk"
That ended up getting me a lift back with my bike tied to the back of the tour truck/bus. I think I ended up forking over about 30,000 in the end, still only about 3 or 4 NZD... sooo glad I didn't have to talk.
Overall I loved all of Laos. Only had 30 days to spread through Thailand, Laos and Cambodia but had nothing planned at all and ended up completely unintentionally spending just over 2 weeks of it in Laos.
I'm planning another trip to do Vietnam early next year but I think I'm gonna be sucked back into Laos just because I can.
#90 mattynz has been a member since 9/2/2012. Posts: 1
I can give you some additional information about "Laos Top 5": I hope you can get more information's from the below link
Why: Because you want to see the city with the highest density of temples in South East Asia...
#91 travelwithme500 has been a member since 31/1/2012. Posts: 16
Just back from Savanakhet and I loved it. Some people say it is boring and there is nothing to do .... I think they did not look between the lines.
Funny how a conversation about Laos can end up in Somalia.
Phongsali for me. Clean clear air, a distinct lack of traffic, of any kind. The strange looks you get from the hill people coming to town for the market.
Silence. Terrific and challenging walking, with nobody about.
Somalia on the other hand. I didn't have all that great a time there. There was no beer Lao.
#93 somtamguy has been a member since 12/6/2012. Posts: 7
"Somali women are fine as frogs hair"
Seriously MAC? I don't know why but I find that hard to believe.
#95 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738
madmac (& moderator): the item of this discussion is about Favourite Place in Laos, unless you start CONTRIBUTING to what's supposed to be a site of exchange of wonderful experiences in the remarkable peaceful, relaxed and serene country that is Laos , I suggest that you take your obsession with women to some frustrated expatriate blog, of which their are plenty in this area. Those who have a real interest in the topic will appreciate you for it.
"But Lao food can't hope to even remotely compete with Somali food. And Somali women are fine as frogs hair."
MADMAC Haven't been shot at in Laos, can't say the same for Somalia. As for food, there wasn't much, and women, they were certainly fine, if you mean emaciated.
#98 somtamguy has been a member since 12/6/2012. Posts: 7
"MADMAC Haven't been shot at in Laos, can't say the same for Somalia."
Everything has to be perfect with you huh?
"As for food, there wasn't much, and women, they were certainly fine, if you mean emaciated."
Plenty of food in Somalia. Even when I was there there was enough food. The problem wasn't enough food, the problem was one of dsitribution, food being used as a weapon of war there (but it's getting better). But I ate in lots of Somali restaraunts and the cuisine can't be beat. I've also had two Somali girlfriends (one a live in) and they were wonderful.
I was there a long time ago. 92-93, no restaurants around when I was there.
#100 somtamguy has been a member since 12/6/2012. Posts: 7
That's when I was there - 92-94. Plenty of restaruants dude. You weren't getting around enough.
I was in Baledogle initially, near Wanle Weyne with 10th AVN BDE.
Then I was in Mogadischu (Embassy Compound) with the QRF.
But I didn't have any girlfriends then. That came latter.
Oh man - Attapeu - last time I was there we didn't have running water for the entire stay because they had torn up the entire system downtown. I remember watching Mubarak getting ousted on satellite tv while washing my hands in a bucket.
I visited Laos a few years ago and really enjoyed the adventure of the 2 day boat trip from Huay xai to LP. Luang Prabang for providing the perfect balance of things to see and relaxation with great views of the Mekong. Vang Vieng was remembered mostly for the river tubing that was relaxing as well as the semi 'pang gan' atmosphere. Good food memories from the Indian restaurant there. Vientianne was the rather Ugly Duck in Laos with nice Temples and good restaurants near the river- Quack!
Going south, the Bolivan plateau was cool, as was good old bicycle friendly and puncture makin' Don Det!
Laos has it's unique and special vibe that Thailand used to have many moons ago untill it got modern...
Have to agree that Thailand was ruined long ago by numerous drunks, obnoxious tourists, sex tourists, numerous foreign criminals , and making a good effort to make everywhere look like Pattaya, Koh Samui, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Pai, etc, etc. My favorite place in Laos is a secret. Why ? Because i don,t want another Vang Vieng that was destroyed my thousands of drunken rude obnoxious tourists who can care less about Laos and their culture. The same goes for Thailand i keep my favorite places a secret. Guess what? Few if any tourists where i travel and it is wonderful.
#109 theloner has been a member since 7/10/2013. Posts: 116
#110 kobeshinobi has been a member since 4/12/2013. Posts: 1
Loner - even if you post them here, people aren't going to go there. They stay on well defined trails. This has been rehashed many times. You leave the tourist trail, and suddenly English doesn't cut it anymore and you have to order food in the local language and suddenly everything gets trickier. Furthermore, there are no great sights that are not already documented, and they want the cool happy snaps. I live in a cool town that is friendly, has a nice vibe... well worth a visit. No one's coming out here. There are no grand sights and there's no "traveller scene" and it's not on the way to anywhere or from anywhere. So if you say the towns along route 225 in Chaiyapum are beautiful, with great views, cool air, pleasant places to eat and cheap with no tourists - nobody is going to go there anyway. It doesn't have "special" marked on it and it doesn't have fellow "travellers" to hang out with.
I think loner forgot to take his medication.
#112 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738
MadMac: Well said, in your post of 4 December. Everybody wants to see the "Real" Viet Nam, Lao, Cambodia, Thailand, but don't actually want to spend time in those very real places, for the reasons you noted.
I want to share my impressions and favorite places, from our family trip last year to Laos.
I was so excited to spend my time in the beautiful capital of the country Laos - Vientiane. So amazing ancient architecture: Patuxai, That Luang, Nationa Museum, Wat Mixai etc. Also there are so many great things to do - to taste local food, drink great coffee, get a massage, go clubbing or go to the Beer Lao brewery and take a tour with tasting and so on. Then we moved on to Phonsavan and visited the Plain of Jars. We watched unbelievable Mount Phousi at sunset, then went to the Palace Museum and visited the night market.
I think your recommendations would be our points for the next trip.
#114 LilyBerns has been a member since 6/12/2013. Posts: 3
#116 JennaIsom has been a member since 13/5/2014. Posts: 2
I really, really loved Laos. Sailing on a boat on the Nam Ou for two days was unforgettable. And so was Hiking in Nam Ha.
But, despite all its problems, the crowds, its being expensive, what I miss the most is Luang Prabang.
(I wrote about it here, too http://patrickcolgan.net/2015/10/31/in-luang-prabang/)
#117 Patrickc has been a member since 6/10/2014. Posts: 5