Would you have noticed? Laos is a country shaped like a shooting star. It shares 5 borders with China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma and Thailand. Landlocked in the middle of these prestigious neighbours, it has long gone ignored. The good thing is, it has kept its soul, its culture.
ສະບາຍດີປະເທດລາວ, ຂ້ອຍຊື່ Christine, ຂ້ອຍແມ່ນຝຣັ່ງ, ດີໃຈທີ່ໄດ້ພົບເຈົ້າ! Sabaidee! Hello Laos!
A difficult past under the American bombs, Laos has walked a long way…
Marked by history, I discover quite unexpectedly that it is the most bombed country in the world, even though it has never been in war. Nearly two million tons of explosives were dropped from American planes between 1964 and 1973. And it’s still not over, even today people still lose their lives, an arm or a leg walking on mines, working the land or driving herds on the plain.
An elegant languor, an uncertain mixture of gentle slowness, respect for time and gesture, Laos is charmant
It is certainly not for this reason, but Laos is an incredibly endearing country. A certain slowness perhaps, this restraint, this elegance of the Laotians in their dress, their gestures, this way of walking with lightness.
Laotians are quiet people with an epicurean soul…
They spend time eating and doing things slowly. They have a very respectful relationship with the body and a lot of modesty. It is always surprising when one travels in this country, people, rich or poor, are extremely well dressed and clean.
In Laos, no shout, no obvious anger or joy. Gentleness and restraint are the way to live. Even the boats are slow, gliding gently on the Mekong River, fleeing the turmoil and fury of the civilized world.
By what miracle has Laos remained so authentic, far from the curse of mass tourism?
Laos has gone through difficult times in the past. Laos has not been a privileged travel destination for a long time.
The reasons are in the history. Laos is a country that was heavily bombarded with anti-personnel mines. For a long time and even today, they can still kill. The government has made great efforts since then to clear as many areas as possible, but some areas should be avoided.
Two wars in Indochina, a 30-year war, political and environmental crises, conflicts between ethnic groups have not given this small country a good press.
Landlocked in the heart of Southeast Asia, Laos has more tempting neighbours who have coconut palm coastlines to offer to visitors. Tourists have long preferred Thailand for its dynamic economy, renowned gastronomy and heavenly beaches.
Laos has been able to put a stop to tourist excesses. For a country in a difficult economic situation, hats off!
In the years 2010, Laos has developed its tourism from the bottom up. The country was known for its binge drinking, alcoholic tubing (you go down the Mekong River in a buoy and stop at the bars along the way) and easy drugs.
Luckily, the country was wise and took matters into its own hands. Vang Vieng has regained his dignity. Tubing is more framed. One goes down the river for the landscapes, the floating walk and some activities (zip lines, diving boards, slides…). There are still bars but drinking is no longer the goal of the activity.
The city has put some order too. It was a pity to see tourists (mostly backpackers) drunk, stoned and scruffy in the streets of the city. Shouting their drunkenness, forgetting by the way any respect for Laos’ traditions. The country has tightened the screws to put an end to the excesses. Well done, sir.
The Lao country is now safe, tourism is developing slowly but surely
There are many good reasons to discover this exotic country. Laos has a rich and intense culture in its flavours, its colours and its ancestral traditions. You never get tired of Laos. From the longest caves in the world (Konglor, 7 km) to the lush jungle, it is still an authentic part of the world.