6 Reasons to Visit Laos
Most people overlook Laos when they're planning a trip around Southeast Asia. While its neighboring countries like Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia get thousands of more tourists each year, Laos has remained low-key and outside of the spotlight. Most people have no idea of what this mystical country holds.
Laos has everything from tropical jungles and ancient Buddhist temples to delicious coffee and the absolute nicest locals. So, as you make your SEA bucket list (or any travel bucket list for that matter), consider these reasons for giving Laos a top spot on that list.
The low influx of tourists in Laos means no crowds, tourist traps, or jacked-up prices. You can walk through a night market without having to squeeze through hordes of people; or you can have the opportunity to be one of the few Westerners among dozens of locals joining a morning ritual at a Buddhist temple. Without the tourists, you can completely immerse yourself in the authentic, Laotian, day-to-day life.
Photo by Tanai Milgram
Laos is the place to visit to if you want to explore your spiritual side and learn more about the Buddhist culture. It’s easy to walk around and stumble upon a beautiful temple with intricate murals and mosaics covering the outer walls and inner rooms. You can't leave the country without having seen the alms giving ceremony in Luang Prabang in northern Laos. Every morning at sunrise, the saffron-robed monks walk in a line down the city’s streets to collect the food offerings. Make sure to keep a respectful distance as they walk through.
Whether you eat at a sit-down restaurant or try the food stands on the street, you can guarantee that every dish will be made with fresh ingredients and rich flavors. Some of the country’s best dishes are the spicy green papaya salad, spicy baguette sandwiches, “Mok pa” fish, sweet coconut cakes, and sticky rice. The people of Lao consume more sticky rice than any other people in the world, earning themselves the nickname luk khao niaow, meaning “children of sticky rice.”
Laos produces and exports its own coffee and the rich, muddy taste is hard to beat. The coffee is brewed inside a cloth bag in a metal jug over a fire and traditionally served in a glass with a nice, thick layer of sweet, condensed milk, taking your caffeine kick to another level.
Some of the world’s most impressive waterfalls are easy to get to with a tuk-tuk ride, and there are many throughout the country. Kuang Si Falls (also spelled “Kwang Si” or “Kuang Xi”) was one of the highlights during my stay in Luang Prabang; the stunning, large, aquamarine cascade tumbles from the jungle into a series of falls and swimming holes that you can freely jump into. You can also watch Asian black bears play around in the Kwang Si Waterfall & Bear Rescue Centre, where they were rescued from poachers and hunters.
The people of Laos are extremely welcoming and friendly. You can be sure that everywhere you go you will be welcomed by smiling faces and open arms. The Lao people love to meet tourists, welcome them into their homes, and introduce them to their culture and language. This means you can freely walk around markets without vendors yelling for your attention. At some point during your trip, you’ll probably be invited to have a Beerlao with locals as you watch the sun set over the Mekong River.