If you take 100 dollars out of a cash machine, you’ll end up with more than one million Lao kip ! And all those kip go far – a cheap hostel room will cost you around $5, a simple meal $3, and you can expect to pay around $2 per 100 km when travelling by local bus.
While it’s a fairly small country, infrastructure isn’t very developed so expect long journeys. But one of the great things about Laos is the slow pace of life; nobody is in a hurry here and you’ll almost feel as though you have travelled back in time. You have no choice but to chill out, enjoy the moment and live in slow motion.
Laos is one of the least-visited countries in Southeast Asia but also one of the most breath-taking. It has gilded temples, dramatic waterfalls, extensive cave networks, high mountains and sun-kissed river islands.
Vientiane, the sleepy capital that feels more like a small town, is a great place to start your travels in Laos. Explore the city’s many temples and get a feel for this country’s strong Buddhist traditions, visit the National Museum to find out about the history of Laos, buy authentic handicrafts at the local shops and then relax with a cold Beer Lao while watching the sun go down over the Mekong River.
From Vientiane, you can take local buses to a wide variety of destinations across the country. Luang Prabang is a UNESCO world heritage site that will wow you with its beautiful temples and colonial-era architecture.
Vang Vieng and Si Phan Don
Get a glimpse of the rare black crested gibbon at the Gibbon Experience in the Bokeo Nature Reserve.
Enjoy outdoor activities like mountain biking, kayaking and trekking in Vang Vieng (which has gone from being a notorious backpacker party town to an eco-tourism centre) or go island hopping in Si Phan Don and maybe even see a river dolphin or two while relaxing along the banks of the mighty Mekong.