Laos

Laos is a small South East Asian country known for its mountainous terrain, natural beauty, rich culture as well as Buddhist monasteries.

Capital City:

Vientiane

Currency:

Laos Kip

Total population:

7.425 million (2021)

Language(s) spoken:

Lao

Cultural dos:

Take off your shoes when you enter a person’s house

Cultural don’ts

Never touch the head of another person unless you are close family or friends

Continent:

Asia

Three foods you need to try in this country:

  • Pani puri (streetfood. crispy puffballs with mashed chickpeas, potatoes, a variety of spices, onion and mint/tamarind flavoured water)
  • Momos (steamed dumplings)
  • Masala Dosa (thin pancake made from fermented rice and black lentils filled with the fired potato, mustard seeds and other spicesvery lean red meat)

Bonus 

  • Real fruit lassi 
  • Stuffed paratha 
  • Masala chai

What the country is known for :

  • Birthplace of four ancient religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism
  • Spiritual Experiences
  • Origins of the practice of Yoga 
  • Origins of Ayuverda
  • Largest producer of spices
  • Bollywood
  • The Taj Mahal

More About Laos

I visited Laos in 2023. I had always been curious about this country as I’d heard other travellers describe Laos as what Thailand used to be about 20years ago, with minimal disruption to the natural environment. Naturally, this made me wonder and therefore when I had the chance – I decided to take it before it disappeared on me.

One of the things I found most interesting about Laos is that to a large extent it feels like the infrastructure not specifically designed for tourists – that was not their priority when developing their towns and cities. What I mean by that is that the infrastructure for tourists is not very ingrained and therefore it is one of those places where I would recommend one’s adventurous spirit comes out to play, if you want to get the most out of your time in Laos. You will not find a lot of people in the streets touting activities or transport options for visitors as you perhaps would in other parts of South East Asia and I believe this is one of the charms of this country. Design your own adventures. 

This country is a nature lover’s dream. Laos is mostly rural, with majority of people living in villages between towns. The country is sparsely populated compared to its neighbours. The north is very mountainous while the south is flatter. One can go on multiple hikes with incredible view points, visit water falls, explore caves, go tubing down river ways, watch the sun rise from one of the cheapest hot air balloon rides in the world. There is a lot of farming in the Laos countryside and therefore the scenic drives may include scenes of buffalos being led as they till the land.  

Laos was part of the French protectorate in Laos between 1893 and 1953. Due to this history, there are some older Laotians who speak French. One can also see semblance of French influence in the capital city Vientiane such as the Patuxai Victory Monument which resembles the Arc de Triomphe. When in Vientiane it is paramount to also visit COPE to learn more about the impact of the cluster bombs that were dropped on the country during the Vietnam war. It is said that a percentage of these did not explode, and are still being discovered in the countryside, to this day. During the Vietnam war, Laos became one of the most bombed country per capita, in history.

Laos is very slow-paced and chilled which provides for a very meditative experience with the natural environment for inspiration. As it is a Bhudhhist country, there are many temples one can visit. However, as a deviation from the Temples, a visit to Bhudhha Park is highly recommended where one can view multiple Bhudhha stone sculptures. It can be a half day affaire to include a drink or lunch by the restaurant overlooking the river. 

Food in Laos is heavily influenced by French cuisine with its breads and pastries as well as by Thai Food. There are Laos twists to some of the foods but the derivatives are the same. 

It is burning season in Laos between March and April. Therefore the air is smoggy, which affects respiration and general visibility. If you have underlying respiratory issues, I would not recommend visiting at this time of the yea

 

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