Which Southeast Asian country is worth visiting
In addition to well-known and popular neighbors such as Thailand and Vietnam, Laos is sometimes almost forgotten when it comes to the next big holiday destination. In addition to its friendly and relaxed inhabitants, the country has a beautiful and absolutely diverse nature to offer, which delights all tourists with its unspoilt nature.
Once through Laos
Overview | General
Arrival |Vientiane |Vang Vieng
Luang Prabang | Champasak| Festivals
Laos is calling!
Laos at a glance
So that you can first get a rough overview of the country, I have put together some interesting facts for you to prepare you for a trip through the country.
- Laos is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia
- It shares borders with China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar
- Around 7 million people live in an area of 236,800 square kilometers
- The largest city and capital at the same time is Vientiane
- It is also known as the land of slowness or the timeless land
- Chinese and Vietnamese are widely spoken, but there are around 80 other languages. English is less common
- The population consists of 49 different ethnic groups - respect their customs
- Laos was under French rule until 1949. This is mainly reflected in the design of many buildings
General information about Laos
Laos is gradually becoming an increasingly popular travel destination, especially with backpackers. Fortunately, the country has been largely spared from mass tourism so far, which means that you are still presented with a wonderfully original country with a 10,000 year old history including Asian and European culture.
The landscape is characterized by steep mountains and deep valleys that gently frame the wide, lush fields. The Mekong runs through the country with its tributaries and embellishes the fact that Laos has no access to the sea at all.
About half of the country is covered in lush forests. Wild animals such as tigers and leopards can also be found here. Although Laos translates "The land of a thousand elephants“Means they have lost the battle for habitat in recent years. There are said to be just under 350 free-living specimens in the country. So if you should see pachyderms that are abused in the cities for tourist elephant riding, please do not support this animal cruelty for a souvenir photo and instead visit one of the reserves where former work animals were taken.
Arrival to Laos
Traveling by land from Thailand or Vietnam is particularly cheap and popular. If you want to save money and have a little time, you can use the from Bangkok or another major airport Land route towards Laos drive. This will take you across the border and from there you can take a bus or boat on the Mekong to your destination. You can also take a similar route from Vietnam to the land of a thousand elephants.
For entry you need a 30-day visa, which you can get at the airports or border crossings against a Fee of $ 30 is exhibited - very simple.
In Laos itself you have two different options for getting around. With the bus on the mostly sparsely developed roads or with the Slow boat across the Mekong. Both variants are not necessarily the fastest, but personally I would always prefer the boat, as the trip is much quieter and safer and you can enjoy the nature of Laos from the water at the same time. If you don't have much time, you can also fly directly to Luang Prabang by plane from Bangkok or Chiang Mai and save yourself the slow pace of progress.
If you roam the country on your own, you will become one at many bridgessmall fee have to pay to cross them. This can also happen to you on smaller day tours. So always have some cash with you.
On the map you can already see that Laos is rather long and that a certain distance has to be covered between the different cities. If you are planning a shorter stay in the country, I advise you to plan your time well and, if necessary, beforehand to decide for the north or south. However, if you have plenty of time (more than two weeks), you can explore the whole country in peace, without getting too hectic and missing something important in the end. As most of the places worth seeingin close proximity to the larger cities it makes sense if you orient yourself on these when traveling through Laos.
The capital Vientiane
Your trip through Laos will most likely take you to the capital of the country. Since 1975 Vientiane has been the Capital of the People's Republic of Laos and also the economic and cultural center of the country with around 350,000 inhabitants. The city extendson the banks of the Mekong through lush and lush green vegetation. Vientiane is particularly known for its relaxed atmosphere, which allows you to experience this city without a lot of stress. As in all other cities in Laos, determine hereCalm and serenity everyday life. It is not for nothing that the Laotians are considered to be a very relaxed people. It is best to take a few days to explore this beautiful city and its sights without the hustle and bustle.
When visiting the city, there are a few must-see attractions that must be on your list. You will find many beautiful ones here Buildings from the colonial erathat show a clear French influence and make up the interesting cityscape.
The best way to get to know the capital is to rent a bike and explore the area.
There are also many beautiful and richly decorated temples here, all of which are worth seeing. I can especially recommend the big one to you Stupa Pha Tha Luang from the 16th century and Wat Si Saket, which is particularly impressive because of the many statues of Buddha. The 45 meter tall stupa should definitely be on your must-see list as the national symbol of Laos. With its radiant, golden decoration, it is even considered to be one of the most beautiful stupas in the country. For a quick and delicious refreshment, you should make a short detour to Noy's Fruit Heaven. Here you can fortify yourself with delicious smoothies, but also with fresh dishes such as salads and baguettes.
Also thePatuxai Park you shouldn't miss out on the Patuxai Victory Monument. This "small" Arc de Triomphe appears even from a distance with its scarce 50 meters high enormous and is artfully decorated with its small towers and the paintings inside on the ceiling. He was created in the 1960s for the Independence Laos built and since then has delighted tourists in the city. If you want to enjoy a wonderful view, you should get on the platform for the equivalent of not even a euro and admire the city from above. It is worth it!
Culinary delights and markets
The night owls and shopping fans among you will love the Vientiane Night Market get their money's worth. As you already know from other Southeast Asian countries, you will be offered all kinds of products from food to fabrics to electronic devices.
Definitely try the minced meat salad Laap (also Larb). This salad with meat or fish and lots of spices is the national dish of Laos and it's super delicious.
Just stroll through the market in the evening, which, in contrast to those in other countries, has a rather cozy and not hectic atmosphere that makes your stay really pleasant. Try your way through the different (and sometimes bizarre) dishes of the country that are served in the Food stalls Tobe offered. A specialty that you shouldn't try are snakes, insects and scorpions soaked in alcohol. This drink is supposed to keep you nice and young - but I doubt that.
For a little break from sightseeing comes the Buddha Park as called. This is just 25 kilometers outside the city center, on the banks of the Mekong, and presents you with many artistic statues, which are beautifully embedded in a well-tended park and make a great backdrop for a relaxing stay. For a low admission price you can choose between the barely 200 religious statues wander around and discover new details everywhere. Your day in Vientiane will be perfectly rounded off by heading towards the banks of the Mekong in the evening to watch the sunset in a magical setting.
Vang Vieng - formerly a party mecca, today a natural paradise
Of course, Laos can offer you beautiful nature. You will find them especially around Vang Vieng. The city itself doesn't have much to offer. But it lies in the middle of a lush nature of lush rice fields and high karst mountains, which stand out on the horizon and form a dreamlike backdrop. It's hard to believe that a few years ago the wild party life of backpackers raged here. Since then the Government strictly against the excesses and drugs, only the many bars and hotels bear witness to the unrest of the young travelers. Fortunately, one of the “main attractions” from the time of the party is still there today: You can drift down the Nam Song River in large tires and let your mind wander completely. Just lovely!
Green nature and blue lagoons
Nature lovers and hikers in particular will get their money's worth around the village, as there are countless caves here, all of which are still very original and call for little adventures off the beaten track.
I would particularly like to recommend one cave to you. Namely that Tham Phu Kham Cave, which also includes the popularBlue Lagoon connected. Here you can swing into the water with ropes and enjoy the pleasant cool water. Since this place is very popular with tourists, I would advise you to come here early in the morning when the lagoon is not yet heavily visited. There are also two other blue lagoons in the area, which are less known so far and where you will likely find more calm and even water with an even nicer color. Just explore the area on your own and find your own favorite spot.
Priceless panoramic views
Instead of spending the evening in a bar, I would advise you to go to the lookout point on the Mount Pha Ngeun to open. The ascent in the sultry, hot temperatures is sweaty, but at the summit you will definitely be rewarded with the view over the wide landscape. Especially at dusk, the view over the shimmering fields and mountains, which are slowly bathed in a warm shade of red, is simply priceless.
Do not underestimate the length of the routes: Due to the poor condition of the roads, you cannot move as fast as you are used to from Germany.
Since the city itself doesn't have much to offer, I would recommend exploring the area on your own with a rented scooter or bike. Often sparsely developed gravel roads lead you past wide meadows with cattle and large water birds. A drive through this area is particularly fantastic because you always have the silhouettes of the mountains in front of your eyes.
Monastic culture in Luang Prabang
The small town of Luang Prabang can be found in the north of Laos in the middle of the mountainous landscape. It has long been the capital of the historic Lan Xang Kingdom. The old town was founded in 1995 by the UNESCO as a world heritage recognized and thrilled with the many buildings from the French colonial times and cute French cafes, in which you can even get baguettes and warm croissants.
Although this city is even more popular with tourists than the capital Vientiane, Luang Prabang somehow manages to do it anyway original charm to maintain the Laotian culture, which is still very beautiful to you here. It is best to stroll through the city and also a little outside the old town, where most of the tourists are found. I can recommend the Utopia bar, where you can relax on cozy pillows by the river in the green during the day and toast with other backpackers with a cold beer in the evening.
The big one is impressive for us Europeans Monastic culturewhich is very present here.
This tradition of the alms ceremony goes back to the 14th century.
It was particularly exciting for me to attend one of the daily alms ceremony to which visitors to the city are also invited. This ritual always starts at sunrise on the main street of the city. It is customary for the residents and foreign participants to kneel down on the side of the street and then hand over their gifts, mostly food such as meat or rice, to the around 200 monks. It is best to buy your gifts the day before and come early enough so that you don't disturb the ceremony. Be extremely respectful the whole time, go behind the line of kneeling people for photos and wear closed clothing.
When the sun disappears on the horizon
What you definitely shouldn't miss when visiting the city is this Mount Phou Siwhich is located in the center of Luang Prabang. It is best to conquer the 150 meters in the early evening so that you can experience the sunset over the city.
The city is bathed in a warm glow as the sun sets behind the mountains.
There are two ways to get to the top of the mountain via stairs and the way there is lined with various Buddha statues. It is best to take a short break in between to enjoy the beautiful view from different points. At the top of the mountain there is a 20-meter stupa, but most visitors actually come here for the sunset. Since it can get quite crowded here late at night, be there early enough to secure a good seat. When the sun has disappeared behind the horizon, sit for a few more minutes while most of the tourists make their way back and watch them gradually City lights be switched on.
Laos spectacular waterfalls
Outside of Luang Prabang, nature also has some spectacular highlights in store for you. One of them is the Kuang Si waterfallwhich, at 50 meters, is the largest in the area. The park where the waterfall is locatedopens daily at 8 a.m..
Luang Prabang is also known as the jewel in Laos crown.
I would also recommend this time for a visit, as the pools of the waterfall are not that crowded and you have the beautiful nature here to yourself. In any case, it is impressive to see how the masses of water tumble down the mountain here and have formed small water holes over the years, in which you can now swim. These cascades, embedded in the beautiful green landscape, are definitely worth a visit! If you are at the waterfall and have forgotten your snacks in the hostel, you can strengthen yourself a bit in the Carpe Diem restaurant with a fabulous view and enjoy the soothing spray.
It's not that high, but it's no less beautiful Tad Sae waterfallrushing through nature on different levels. Make yourself comfortable at the edge and enjoy the roar of the water or refresh yourself in the natural pool.
The paradise in Champasak
One province that I absolutely loved and that you definitely shouldn't miss in Laos is the quiet Champasak. You can find it in Southwest of Laos, on the border with Cambodia and Thailand. In addition to small sleepy towns, you will encounter wonderful nature here with the Bolaven plateau, the Mekong Falls and the 4,000 islands. It is a shame that this region is so far removed from the other highlights of Laos and that both parts of the country are connected with a longer trip.
As in the region of Champasak still today in the old traditional way local products How coffee, rice and fabrics are made, it makes sense to take part in such a tour that brings you closer to the production process. This gives you a first-class insight into traditional Laos and you can learn something more right away. Especially around the little one Place Pakse there are many workshops that you can attend and make your own products.
Fast through the jungle
If you are already in the south of Laos, you are allowed to Bolaven jungle not to be missed, because here you can experience real adventures. A night in a tree house should not be missing on your list and that too Zip lining through the dense canopy of leaves of the forest, past the roaring waterfalls, promises a lot of fun and a uniquely beautiful view while you rush through the air. In addition to the endless coffee and rice fields, numerous rivers run through the Bolaven plateau, which in sections ripple through the area as waterfalls. You will quickly find out: Especially the hiking fans among you are in good hands here.
The islands of the Mekong
Another special feature awaits you along the Mekong. The UNESCO World Heritage Site Wat Phu, or also called the mountain temple, is located near Pakse between rice terraces and lush forest landscape. These ruins of a former Khmer temple are even older than the magnificent Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia. In the provinces, you should take enough time to explore nature extensively.
Stress is a foreign word for the Laotians.
The 4,000 islands, which you will find spread across the Mekong, are a real highlight. Some of them are even inhabited. So do the islands of Don Det and Don Khon, which are extremely popular with tourists. Most of the small islands are often just trees and bushes that just look out of the water and create a dreamlike backdrop. Around the islands you can watch dozens of waterfalls as a special feature, dolphins romping about in the water.
It is very quiet on the two inhabited islands, even quieter than in the rest of Laos. Don Dhet is the more relaxed island of the two - nobody can be stressed here!
Mental relaxation in the island paradise
Those of you who are looking for a little paradise in Laos have it with you Don Det found in all probability. In contrast to most other Lao cities, Don Det itself is at least as beautiful as the nature in which it is located.
Since there are no ATMs on the islands, you should bring enough cash with you.
Laos itself is one of the few Southeast Asian countries that no direct access to the sea and so the many bathing opportunities in Don Det are just what you need in the hot temperatures. You have a particularly beautiful view from the bridge that spans the two islands of Don Det and Don Khon connects with each other. The sunset over the calm Mekong, which you should enjoy from here, bathes the landscape in a warm glow and heralds the evening dreamily.
When you've rested enough and feasted through the numerous cute restaurants and cafes, rent a bike and visit the neighboring island of Don Khon with her beautiful waterfall, where you can even make yourself comfortable on a small beach. You almost forget that you are not at the sea here ...
Don't miss these festivals
In Laos there are some festivals that are celebrated particularly beautifully by the Laotians. Perhaps you are even lucky and your trip falls within the period of such a celebration. If the time is right, you should definitely do Full moon in February in Pakse experience. Because then a big festival with various traditional ceremonies is celebrated here for a week around the temple ruins.
Another highlight is that lunar new year in mid-April, which pulls the entire country under its spell and seems to captivate and inspire. The Bun Bang Fai rocket festival is celebrated in May with lots of music, dancing and of course hundreds of bamboo rockets that light up the sky.
The Lhai Heua Fai Festival of Lights is celebrated most heavily in the cities of Vientiane and Luang Prang. It always takes place at the end of the monks' fasting period and is so beautiful that it inspires many people even beyond the borders of Laos. The wonderful highlight during the festival are the countless little onesLight boatswhich are placed on the river by the inhabitants and which then float towards the horizon. The handcrafted wooden and banana leaf boats are decorated with incense sticks, flowers and candles. The locals light the candles and incense sticks on the bank and say prayers as they put the boats in the water. You should not miss this uniquely beautiful sight.
In Luang Prabang there are also parades with luminous figures such as dragons, lanterns light up the dark night sky and carry the wishes of the residents into the air.
Make your way to this wonderful country
Are you just as fascinated by Laos as I am? Here not only a beautiful and diverse nature, but also the relaxed and always friendly Laotians await you. Laos is not yet as much geared towards tourists as its Southeast Asian neighbors, but isn't that what makes it so charming? I can promise you: You will definitely not regret a stay in Laos!
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