Laos

The pace in Laos is slower than in Thailand. Work and money aren’t quite priorities here and this can lead to some frustrations. However, there is something very special and pure about the Lao and you’ll probably fall in love with this country.

A 30 day visa is granted on any land border into the country (with the exception of land borders with Cambodia) and can be renewed indefinetely by exiting and returning to the country. After crossing from Thailand, the process took about 30 minutes and cost $35.

Travel by slow boat from Huyaxai to Luang Prabang is very popular among backpackers and locals. Although you can buy tickets for this boat all the way back in Chiang Mai or from any tourist agent in Laos, the best price is available at the dock for the boat. Don’t believe the scammers who tell you that you can only buy tickets from them. To get to the boat you can take a tuk-tuk as it’s several kilometers away from the border crossing.

The boat travels for 2 days, with an overnight in Pakbeng. Although the trip was tiresome, it was also a lot of fun because of all the travelers I met. Throughout my time in Laos, I would see many of the people I met on this boat.

Vang Vieng is a very popular destination among young travelers. It’s famous for it’s tubing (bar hopping along the Nam Song river in a tube) and party atmosphere. It’s also a really beautiful place surrounded by karst mountains. If you’re interested in volunteering check out the Organic Mulberry Farm. They also have a delicious restaurant in the center of Vang Vieng!

In Luang Prabang and Vientaine, you can volunteer as a conversational English teacher at Big Brother Mouse.

I did something called “the loop” on a motorcycle with two friends around the center of Laos for several days. Tha Khek was the starting point of “the loop” and one of my favorite cities in central Laos. There were very few foreigners but the locals were very friendly here. There is a party boat here that is very popular among locals (mainly teachers, students and other professionals) called the Smile Boat. It was so much fun to walk onto this boat and be almost immediately snatched by a table of smiling teachers who latched on to you like your were their guest, their possession, their dear friend. Dancing here was a lot of fun.

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