Laos has so far been one of the most beautiful countries I’ve visited on my travels. Throughout our three weeks spent there, I was constantly having to reach for my camera to take a quick snap of my surroundings. So, to celebrate the beauty of the lovely country that is Laos in all its glory, I thought I’d put together a photo post of the 25 most stunning views I came across. Enjoy!
After successfully completing the Laos Thakhek bike loop, some of the group decided to head down South for some chill time in Si Phan Don, more commonly known as ‘Four thousand islands’. We stayed on one of the more popular islands, Don Det, which is still a tiny little place very much backpacker orientated with a cool hippy vibe. We were there for four nights but again like in Pai in Northern Thailand, when I look back at our time spent there I struggle to pinpoint exactly what we got up to! It is very much a place to hammock-dwell with little planned. Many travellers we met said they had ended up spending a lot longer there than anticipated, simply enjoying the sunshine and having a chance to relax without rushing around doing activities and excursions.
So, what exactly did we do?
We had been told about the legendary Laos Motorbiking Loop from friends we had made back in Pai, but for some reason had brushed the idea aside. However when we met a group of like-minded travellers whilst tubing in Vang Vieng, we were very easily persuaded to shake up our original plans and embark on a 5-day detour partaking in ‘the loop’. The famous round trip lasts approximately 500km, and most riders tend to visit many of the sights along the way and stop off at tiny local villages overnight. We were a large group with a couple of less experienced drivers so had decided to spend a leisurely 5 days journeying the loop, although many finish it in 4 or even 3 days.
I wasn’t driving myself and instead was lucky enough to be able to hop on the back of my best friend Sophie’s bike. For that reason, my expertise on how difficult or extreme the actual driving route is quite limited, but I’ll give my thoughts on the ride and will mention some of the lovely sights we saw on our trip. Below I’ve included a copy of the map we were given of our route when renting our bikes.
When I’d previously mentioned that I’d be travelling Laos to people of a similar age group, the first thing they would tend to ask was if I’d be going tubing in Vang Vieng. Tubing in Vang Vieng basically involves floating down the Nam Song river during the day, surrounded by gorgeous scenery whilst stopping off at various bars drinking yourself into utter oblivion.
Over the years, I had read news stories and heard some rather interesting tales of the day-drinking phenomenon. Previously there had been a lot more bars open and tubing-related deaths were not uncommon. However the Laotian government made some huge changes in 2012, making tubing much safer and more controlled. With these recent changes, I was keen to check it out myself, despite the negativity surrounding it in the press. And as a Brit who enjoys the occasional (ahem) day drinking session, there was no denying that a day spent on a river stopping off at bamboo bars for frozen vodka slushies sounded tempting to say the least.
After spending a good few weeks in Thailand it was time to enter Laos, and I was pretty excited to say the least. I had looked forward to beautiful landscapes, learning about a new culture and getting involved in the vast amount of activities on offer (including the infamous tubing in Vang Vieng!)
After a two day slow boat journey through Laos, we finally ended up in Luang Prabang. The cultured city is renowned for its world class French food, its atmospheric night markets and the gorgeous Kuang Si waterfalls. On our second day in Luang Prabang, we decided to visit said waterfalls. I had seen friends’ photos of the falls and had seen posters of them plastered all over the town, but I was absolutely blown away as soon as I set eyes upon them.
A three hour drive from busy Chiang Mai, the relaxed hippy town of Pai in Thailand is a much more laid back affair. When people have asked me what there is to do in Pai, I have to stop and think for a bit as nothing really springs to mind immediately. We stayed for 6 nights and spent a lot of our time relaxing, eating (of course) and exploring the small town and its surroundings. To be honest after a lot of crammed days and late night partying in both Bangkok and Chiang Mai, some chill time was very much welcomed!
Chiang Mai, situated in Northern Thailand is a city bustling with activity and plenty of things to do. We stayed there for 6 nights and were simply spoilt with exciting options of activities and day tours to fill our trip with. We managed to cram in river tubing, trekking, temple visiting, white water rafting and meeting elephants to name just a few of the things we got up to! And that’s even with one day as a bit of a write off because of bad weather (we had massages and visited a cat café on that day – it was amazing!)
But what really impressed me was something that wasn’t really advertised very much and I can’t recall seeing in any of the tour shops. Up in the mountains, a good 45 minutes or so drive away from the centre of the city we accidentally came across the Doi Pui Hmong Hilltribe village. We had originally taken a songthaew (a pick up taxi truck) out to visit the glorious Doi Suthep temple which was a half an hour drive away from our hostel. The temple was stunningly beautiful and is definitely worth a visit – we spent a good hour exploring the grounds and admiring the views. However as we were just about to slope off home, we noticed taxi sign posts for trips further up to the Doi Pui Hmong Hilltribe for about only an extra 100 baht each (approx. £2 pounds). Intrigued, we decided to take up the offer. As there weren’t too many taxis driving up to the village our driver insisted that he wait whilst we visited, giving us an hour to explore. We thought an hour would be all we needed, but I can safely say that we could have definitely stayed a lot longer.
Hi, and welcome to my first post! I currently write this whilst sitting at a rather empty Delhi airport with my two travel buddies in the early hours of the morning as we wait 7 hours for our connecting flight to Bangkok. We’ve been planning this 6-month trip to South East Asia for almost a year now and although I always knew planning for such a big trip would take up a lot of time, I never anticipated just how much time. Adding in the fact that we were leaving just after Christmas, along with my own personal tendency to leave things quite last minute (bad habit!) meant that the two months leading up to our trip were hectic to say the least!
That’s why I thought to get this blog started it might be useful to make a checklist for others that might be thinking of travelling. Some points are really small tiny things to check off, but are important nonetheless and can be easy to forget.