Laos – that name still rings in my ear – and somehow it’s calling me to come back for the second time. Yes, I would come back to the country again. Why? Anyone who has been to Laos would know the answer! For those of you who haven’t been there, I’ll share with you five reasons why you need to visit Laos today. As for those who have stepped foot into this beautiful country, let’s see if you had the same kind of experience too!
1. Laos Has a View to Die For….Like Seriously!
I am so thankful for the breathtaking views I got to enjoy when I was in Laos. The mountains that act like ‘bodyguards’ are borders to its neighbouring countries – and I was able to see them from afar as I got up to the highest point. I was blown away by their beauty and couldn’t stop taking photos of them. They’re so beautiful! However, to be honest, nothing can compare to the real thing. You’ve got to see the real deal! Some of the rivers are so clear that you can see fishes swimming gracefully in them. Big and small waterfalls are everywhere, and if you think you had jotted down the name of every waterfall mentioned over the Internet, I suggest that you keep looking because there are so many hidden waterfalls not everyone has heard about, simply because some of them have yet to have a name.
2. Laos Will Put Your Stamina to the Test
So you think you’ve got the stamina to climb every mountain you see? Well, you should consider coming to Laos then. Laos is a mountainous country that makes your journey go up and down, and when I say up and down, I mean it literally! Most of the roads are not paved and because of that, going uphill and downhill can be very slow and challenging. My journey involved lots of falls and walks whenever my bike broke down. That’s why I was happy to have Alex, my travel buddy, who constantly pushed the bike with me. I knew two cyclists, one from Japan and the other from India, who had to do hitchhiking whenever the roads became too difficult for them. Cyclists, get your spare tires ready!
For someone with an unimpressive stamina like mine, travelling across Laos was indeed challenging. I knew this from the very beginning and I accepted the challenge. But oh my, I had so much fun! One unforgettable moment while I was there: climbing a limestone mountain in Vieng Xai. I don’t know what it’s called and I don’t even recommend anyone to go there because I seriously don’t think it is safe. If you have done research about Laos history, you’d know the reason. Likewise, travel at your own risk. If you want a taste of fun adventures, go for rock climbing tours and courses that are available all around Laos. I can assure you that you’ll have fun!
3. If You’re Tired of Horns, This is Where You Should Go Next
After travelling around Southeast Asia for a couple of months, I learned to live with loud horns and people screaming in my ears. But sometimes all I need is to be away from the crowd and have some time alone. In Laos, I was able to do that most of the time. There are only about six million people in Laos, so that also means less noise. Whether it is a small village or a city that you’re visiting, you’ll always find a place where there is no one but you.
4. Laotians are Generally Very Warm, Helpful and Friendly
I suppose this is one of the things I miss so much about Laos. People are just so nice! Most Laotians are devoted to Buddhism and their faith in the teaching shapes their lives. I must say that Laotians are very friendly and helpful. I remember vividly when Alex and I joined a group of Laotian men for lunch, just outside the guesthouse where we were staying. They were celebrating Lunar New Year together and when they saw us, they invited us to eat and drink with them. Although they can barely speak English, they managed to make us laugh. One of them was constantly showing off his travel photos. He owns a Harley and takes pride for riding it. Another thing I would like to point out: Laotians will talk to you even if they are aware that you have no idea what there are talking about. I was able to understand them most of the time, by simply observing their body language, and hey, that worked well!
5. Laos Makes You Realise that Happiness Lies in Simple Things
Most people in Laos are poor. But poverty doesn’t make them awful individuals. In fact, most of the people I met were generous! It’s amazing that while I was there I didn’t have to curse at anyone. I also loved the children. I would watch them play by the river and sometimes I would play with them too. They’d even play in the dark or run down the hill with no slippers on. I also noticed that small kids, as young as five years-old, are already learning how to cycle. What’s impressive about it is the bicycles are way bigger than them! If the seat is too high for them, they would stand on the pedals instead.
In the cities, you’d see more kids living a more comfortable life. I was in Vientiane for a few days and even though it is the most modern-looking place in the country, the lifestyle there still looks quite laid-back compared to anywhere else I’d been in Southeast Asia.
So do you think you share more or less the same experiences too? As for those of you who are thinking of going to Laos, I hope that these reasons may convince you to pay the country a visit. It may not turn out as your favourite, but it is mine, at least. Nevertheless, I’d like to encourage you to try Laos for the reasons above. If you’re going to Laos anytime soon, have fun! 🙂