Lodged between the two tourist powerhouse countries of Southeast Asia is a land that still beams with brilliant purity. An entire region that, despite becoming more popular for backpackers in the past few decades, continues to feel greatly unscathed and genuine to the core of its being. A country that many consider as a layover or pit-stop travel point for other major destinations during their journeys propelled itself into my heart at such a high velocity that within a matter of days it had become my favorite place in the world.
In 2013, Cambodia took me by storm during my first visit to Southeast Asia, and I doubted any place in the world would ever top it as a place where I feel most comfortable and charmed. And while it still holds a place in my heart and always will, Laos is now #1 for me and I can say that without any hesitation.
Pure. Pure. Pure. This land is pure.
Even in the areas where tourism is at its peak and tries to cater to foreigners, the country somehow remains untouched at heart. The amount of hustlers and scammers is unbelievably minimal. The prices are fair. The transportation methods and vehicles are legit and trustworthy. The bathrooms are completely spectacular; always clean, and I couldn’t find a single toilet that didn’t have a bidet spray nozzle attached. Clean! The country is so rustic, wooden, primal, yet so clean!
The food, while not reaching the ultimate epic levels that are hit in the aforementioned powerhouses of Vietnam and Thailand, is quite tasty and varied. The rice is the most sticky in the entire world and you only eat it with your hands in a ball. The meat is safe and there are many kinds to choose from. The veggies are much better than in Vietnam and Cambodia. And the western food is done well, unlike in China and Korea.
Earth unscorched by construction surrounds plentifully; up and over every hilltop and mountain. Rocky but well-trodden motorbike paths wind and curve adjacent to beautiful rivers and ponds, often dotted here and there by rural huts and an ancient way of living, still-present. And always a feeling of safety and well-being, emanating from the locals and even the police and military. Smiles, but no fakeness. Haggling and bartering always possible. Expats and hostels catering to new and experienced travelers alike, auras and vibes soaring above scales of positivity.
Riding a motorbike through winding paved and dirt roads of Laos is the most free one can be. Driving through this land beats driving through Vietnam by a million. These are some of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth and no one should miss the opportunity to visit Laos at least once in their life.
Truly one of the best places in the world and now I wonder what will top my new #1 favorite country.
20 pics we enjoyed from this place…