Laos is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia. Laos is bordered by Myanmar and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, and Thailand to the west. Laos is also known as the “country of one million elephants”. Lao tourism is divided into 7 main areas including Vientiane, Xiengkhoang, Luang Prabang, Thakhek, Savanakhet, Pakse and Champasak. They are all famous sites that are preferred by tourists from various regions. If intending to have a trip to Laos, you can refer to the following experience of traveling in Laos.
How to get to Laos
From Vietnam to Laos
You can come to Laos from Saigon or Hanoi by plane or bus. From Hanoi, you buy tickets at No.3A Nguyen Gia Thieu to go to Vientiane in Laos and exit at the Cau Treo border gate. Another way is starting the trip in Vinh by buying bus tickets to Xieng Khoang. When you go through Nam Can border gate, you will be offered seal for immigration. From Ho Chi Minh City, you can take the road to Laos through the gate in Kon Tum, Quang Tri, Hue or Quy Nhon. In addition, if you want to travel by motorbike or car, you can apply for a permit by Vietnam – Laos inter-transportation at the Department of Transportation.
From Bangkok (Thailand) to Vientiane (Laos)
The distance from Bangkok to Vientiane is approximately 650 kilometers. The transportations for tourists to choose to go include airplane, bus and train. Of these vehicles, plane is the most expensive; the bus is the cheapest one and the train brings much experience and is used the most.
There are 6 flights a day from Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi airport or Don Muang airport) to Vientiane. It takes approximately 1 hour 15 minutes to move from Bangkok to Vientiane. You can take a flight of Thai Air Asia, Lao Airlines, Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways.
To take the bus from Bangkok to Vientiane, visitors can follow one of the following ways. You go to the Morchit station to move to the Udonthani station, then take a trip to Vientiane. Another way is that from the Morchit station (Bangkok), you take a bus to Nong Khai station, then go to Vientiane.
You go to Hua Lamphong station to catch the train to Nong Khai. There are three trains on 8:20 and 18:00 and 20:00. It takes you from 10 to 11 hours to travel. Many tourists often save time by taking the night train. From Nong Khai station, you catch a tuk-tuk to the border gate, enter Laos and take a bus to Vientiane.
Time to visit Laos
The average temperature in Laos is between 24℃ and 33℃. In fact, you can travel to Laos any time of the year. However, it is necessary to learn more about the characteristics of seasons in Laos so that you can plan to prepare personal belongings. The dry season that is considered the best time to visit Laos is from December to April when the average temperature is 15°C to 30°C, so the weather is relatively cool. There is much rain from May to November. If choosing this time, you may have some difficulties in moving from region to region in Laos.
Where to go in Laos
Mekong River with the length of 4.35 kilometers is the largest river in Southeast Asia. The river rises from China and goes through 5 countries in the region including Laos. If taking a trip to Laos in the dry season, you are advised to go along the Mekong river to admire the beautiful landscape of the two sides from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang. Besides, travelers can go further to watch the river through the dense forest. Seeing the Mekong River will bring you exciting experience and this is also one of the most impressive tourist attractions in Laos.
Luang Prabang is one of the favorite destinations in Laos. Surrounded by layer on layer mountains and located at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan, Luang Prabang owns the majestic natural beauty. In addition, Luang Prabang still has preserved ancient temples regardless of many rises and falls throughout history.
All the houses, villas and hotels in Luang Prabang are the great combination of French architecture and traditional Laotian style, which creates the modern and ancient beauty. It is this characteristic that makes Luang Prabang become an impressive attraction and charming tourist destination in Southeast Asia as well.
This is a small town located along Nam Song river and considered to be “paradise for discovery” for the young people who love to conquer the waterfalls and rapids in the world. Coming here, you should rent a bike to visit ancient caves and surrounding villages and learn the culture of the local people here as well.
Coming to Vang Vieng, you should not miss watching the sunset and sunrise on Nam Song river. This is an ideal destination for the backpackers who love the peaceful and quiet space in Laos.
Si Phan Don
The flow of Mekong River forms a Si Phan Don with 4000 large and small islands. It is considered the largest archipelago at the southernmost part of Laos. Coming Si Phan Don, tourists will enjoy cool blue waters and watch winding waterfalls. This is also the habitat of freshwater dolphins. Due to these features, Si Phan Don becomes an attractive destination around the world.
What food to eat in Laos
Ping Kai (grilled chicken)
To enjoy delicious Ping Kai, it is suggested for you to enter Savannakhet in Laos. Here they grill the whole chicken which is often clamped in bamboo sticks after mixed with spices. If you do not go to Savannakhet, you can taste this dish in Vientiane or Luang Prabang. On the road from the Laos’ capital to Luang Prabang, there are quite a few restaurants offering Ping Kai. A Ping Kai will be sold with the price from five to seven dollars.
Piak Sen Khao (Laos noodles)
Piak Sen Khao is one of the must-eat dishes in Laos. Laotians mainly eat this food in the morning. Walking along markets or crowded streets, you will see many food stalls selling Piak Sen Khao. It is recommended that you should choose crowded restaurants to eat delicious noodles.
Tam Mak Houng (green papaya salad)
Tam Mak Houng is a specialty that is preferred by Laotians. Papaya is separated into small threads and mixed with the sour, spicy, salty and sweet spices; then added with roasted peanuts, green beans to create the crispness and aromatic flavor. This dish draws the young people who like nosh and is sold in sidewalk food stalls or markets in Laos.
Sien Savanh (dried beef)
The method cooking of Sien Savanh is quite simple. After selecting fresh pieces of beef, people will mix them with soy sauce, chilli, peppercorn and some other types until these species soak into the beef. Then the beef is well cooked and exposed to the sun for several days. You can find out this dish at many sidewalk restaurants where you can sit to sip a cup of wine accompanied by Sien Savanh.
Laos travel tips
Tips to save money and travel time in Laos
You should share a Tuk tuk with other tourists to save money or buy pickup tickets a day in advance but do not buy round-trip tickets. Another tip is that when reaching a destination, you need to ask about the road to the next beauty spot before starting your trip.
Hotels and motels
Tourist services in Laos has gradually developed, but there are still quite a few affordable guesthouses.
Things to bring to Laos
In the trip to Laos, it is necessary to bring with you a passport and a travel brochure such as Lonely Planet. Besides, essential personal belongings include a hat, a mask, sunglasses, sun protective clothing and gloves. It is suggested that you wear soft shoes to avoid not being exposed to the sun in summer and bring some medicine for basic diseases, a sunscreen and an insect repellent. In addition, you buy SIM card at the Laos border. In Laos, you can use US dollars and Kip but in order to avoid rising problems when traveling in rural areas, you should change your money into Kip.