A few days ago we spontaneously jumped on a flight from Bangkok to Laos. Without a guidebook or any expectations we arrived in the capital Vientiane. It was early in may and the weather was amazing.
Vientiane was not the most exciting city I have been to, with the exception of Skandinavian Bakery and finally getting my hands on some "Norwegian" breakfast. We rented bicycles and went sightseeing for a couple of days before we decided to move on.
Our next stop was a destination we had heard a lot about from other backpackers traveling through Southeast Asia. Some travelers described it as the best party place in the world. While others told us it was hell on earth. This crazy place was Vang Vieng. A tiny village in the mountains that over a period of about ten years time became one of the biggest party places in all of Southeast Asia.
In Vang Vieng Tubing is the big tourist attraction. If you do not know what tubing is, it basically means you are sitting inside of a blown up tire, floating down the river. In the case of Vang Vieng, floating from bar to bar hoping to get as drunk as possible. When you get back from a long day of tubing you can hang out at the many sandwich bars around town while watching friends on TV for hours and hours.
After a few days in Vang Vieng we had had more than enough and decided to hop on a bus and travel further north to Luang Prabang. A charming little French-inspired city with exciting markets and nice cafes. From Luang Prabang we rented scooters and drove to a stunning waterfall, Kuang Si Falls. Both the scooter ride up and the waterfall itself was absolutely stunning and without a doubt one of the highlights of our trip.
After a few lazy days in Luang Prabang we headed further north to a small town called Nong Kiawe. It became clear to us that the further north you go in Laos, the greener and more beautiful it becomes. It was less touristy than the southern parts and the local people were incredibly friendly. In Nong Kiawe we finally got to use our climbing gear and went to explore the cliffs and caves in the region. We went swimming in the creeks and spent our nights watching the stars.
I know we have beautiful scenery in Norway, but the northern parts of Laos blew me away. I felt like I was traveling outside of the tourist track. The mountains and the rugged terrain was everything I was hoping Laos would be and more.
Laos turned out to be a pleasant surprise to our south east Asia trip. And if you are planning a trip to South East Asia and you like to go off the beaten track, the northern parts of Laos should be on your list.