First off, let’s get something straight. Is it Laos or is it Lao? In the West, we’ve been taught that the country is named Laos and the people are Lao. The official name of the country is Lao People’s Democratic Republic usually written as Lao, PDR for short. When you are in the country, the people there refer to it as Lao so it is my intention to use that too; although I do still find myself using Laos sometime.
Now that we have that out of the way…
I remember the first time some friends suggested that we join them in a trip to Lao. Our reaction was “Isn’t it dangerous to travel in Laos?”
Boy, was I ever wrong.
At some point in the relatively recent past, there might have been some legitimate concerns about “mountain bandits” in Laos but for the past 10-years, such disruptions have been extremely rare. In reality, in several trips that have included virtually all parts of Laos, we’ve never felt threatened in the least.
There is a parable about rice that explains the mind set of the different peoples of Southeast Asia. It goes something like: “The people in Cambodia grow the rice. The Vietnamese people sell the rice. The Thais buy and then cook the rice. And the Lao people like to smell the rice flowers.”
The people of Laos are some of the kindest, gentlest, most laid back people in the world.
The countryside is full of great natural beauty. Food in Lao, while somewhat similar to Thai is unique in its own right and very good and reasonably priced in most restaurants. Laos has a rich deep culture. And for my wife, who has a special appreciation of hand woven textiles, the weaving villages in Lao are reason enough alone for a visit there.
It’s not an easy place to get to from the East Coast of the U.S. but we’ve gone to the trouble to made 2 trips to Lao in the past 3 years and I expect there will be more.
Pages describing travel in Lao
- Luang Prabang 2009
- Luang Prabang 2012
- Phonsavan & Plain of Jars
- Vientiane Intro
- Pakse & Vat Phou Mekong 2012 Cruise