When you think of Southeast Asia, most people tend to cite Thailand as their favourite holiday destination. However, Thailand’s neighbouring country Laos has been enjoying a recent boom in popularity. Although it is actually one of the world’s poorest countries, it offers a thoroughly enriching experience to tourists, especially for those wanting to avoid the crowds. If you are thinking about visiting Laos this year, here are some things you may want to make a note of.
Lao is the official language of Laos, but it is linguistically similar to Thai. However, it may surprise you to know that French is the second unofficial language. This is mainly due to the history of the country, but French is also taught in schools. You will also find that France has influenced some of the building styles and there are touches of French cuisine found on the menu here.
Plenty of Accommodation in the Capital
Although Vientiane is the capital city, it is the not the kind of city you are used to. Rather than the hustle and bustle found in places like London or Paris, the capital of this country is more like a fishing village based around the Mekong River. If you are looking to book a hotel in Laos Vientiane, you will be perfectly situated in the middle of Laos for travel convenience, so you would be wise to make your base here.
Although it is Landlocked, There Are Beaches
When you look at Laos on the map, you probably wouldn’t expect to be able to add a day at the beach to your itinerary. However, Laos is home to a cluster of small islands situated along the Mekong River; 4,000 of them in fact. Sandy beaches can be found on the most famous of these islands, which are Don Khon, Don Det, and Don Khong.
Be Aware of Laos Customs
Before you visit Laos, it would be wise to do some research on the different norms and expectations. For example, when meeting and greeting the locals, it is considered rude to touch anybody you don’t know. Instead of shaking hands, you should bow with your hands together. Also, when visiting temples, you must never point your feet towards a Buddha statue. As the people of Laos are known as some of the most hospitable in Asia, it would not be wise to disrespect them.
Lao New Year is Celebrated in April
Although temperatures can reach an uncomfortable 40 degrees in April and the surrounding months, a trip to Laos from the 13th to the 16th of April can make for an unforgettable experience. Laos celebrates the New Year during these dates, which is known locally as Songkran. There is traditional Laos music and dancing and even a beauty pageant.
To many travellers and holidaymakers, Laos is a country shrouded in mystery. However, armed with the few snippets of information we have listed above, why not make it your next destination and discover everything else this magnificent place has to offer?