We made our way to Laos in November 2012 for 5 days/4 night. On the same flight to Vientiane with us where Andy and Floyd with their families, Rugby team mates of mine from Bintang Rugby in KL. As they were with their families, they decided to head up to the North and Luang Prabang where we decided to hit the backpacker area of Vang Vieng.
When we arrived, the biggest pain is the queue for visas. As everybody needs one, you need to try and sit at the front of the plane and get through to the visa place before everyone else. Here it is interesting to see all the different prices for visas for different nationals. Obviously Canada has upset Laos in the past as Canadian Nationals where required to pay the most for entry. I had to pay more than Aida so for the first time ever having an Iranian passport was better than owning a British one!! On my previous visit to Laos I entered the country from Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand which was so much easier, although giving your passports to some random Laos guys is a little worrying.
Once we got through immigration we headed to our hotel where we were staying for 1 night. It was a hot day so a bottle of Beer Lao is always a good cooler in these circumstances. In fact Beer Lao is one of my favourite beers in SE Asia. For lunch we headed to a Mexican pizzeria which I remembered being nice on my last trip, just over the road from the river. Lots of walking around the temples of Wat SI Saket and then onto Patuxai the followed as well as booking our bus to Vang Vieng for the following day.
The road to Vang Vieng is certainly a lot more comfortable than the roads in Cambodia and at only 2 hours is quite easy to do. The main reason for going to Van Vieng is for the tubing down the river. On my first visit this was a great as there were bars all along the river. It was a pure party scene and despite having my bag stolen and nearly knocking myself unconscious when hitting the water on a zip wire it was certainly the best part of the trip so could’t wait for Aida to sample this. However, since my previous trip, things had changed. There were now no bars along the river since an Australian boy drowned in the river, drunk, and his father a prominent member of Government in Australia had the bars closed. If you love the American sitcom ‘Friends’ then you will love this town. Many bars/restaurants play series after series on loop (the occasional Family Guy or Simpsons can be located as well) and its got quite a hippy feel to the place.
You are still able to go tubing down the river but doing this with a plastic bag full of cans of beer wasn’t quite the same. Instead, we chose to go black water tubing, trekking (only a little bit) and then kayaking down the river. This actually turned out to be a great day trip. The scenery along the river is astounding, the kayaking is tiring but not exhausting (although we only had my iPhone so taking photos wasn’t easy as we were worried about it getting wet). We did get stuck once but managed to get down safely in a few hours. On the evening there are plenty of cool bars by the river to go and party at, but apart from that you are stuck for anything else to do (hence not the most family orientated place to go).
The next day we headed back down to Vientiane and had a day soaking in the final sights we didn’t see on the first day, in particular Pha That Luang and Loa National Museum.
On the evening, I decided to get my hair cut which proved a disaster as she cut it far too high at the back and sides so I ended up shaving it all off. The poor woman was full of apologies, but hey, these things happen, and another lesson was learnt: don’t get your hair cut from someone who doesn’t speak English!!
Chris 8/10 Aida 8/10