This guest post was written by guest blogger Stephanie Collard of QunoSpotter.co.uk
Get off the computer, book some low cost flights, and go on the adventure of a lifetime in South East Asia. Laos is often the last country people visit, but it should be the first. Laos is a beautiful country filled with lush green forests. It is often cited as one of the last South East Asian countries not to have been over developed for tourism. What will you be talking about when you return? Spectacular rice paddies and beautiful pagodas, or tubing in Vang Vieng? I’d say the latter is quite likely.
If you’ve ever been to the seaside (particularly the British seaside), you might have gone out to sea with an inflatable rubber tube around your waist. (You may even have floated out so far that you had to be rescued by someone else furiously paddling toward you with one round his or her waist). Anyways, this is the same, but in a river.
It can get a bit messy as there are several bars along the river which you can ‘tube’ over to. Whereeas you’d never bungee jump drunk or white water raft drunk, here you can float down the river drunk.
There is a health and safety question. Should people be allowed to embark their own adventures, even if they may present a (mild) dangerous to their self? Or should this sort of thing be regulated? Either way, a lot of people return saying they had a great time.
If you want to avoid the tubing scene in favour of one with less young partiers, there are many places in Laos to enjoy quiet kayaking, rafting, rock-climbing, and cycling.
There are some great tour companies who can take you kayaking and rafting in Luang Namtha or Champassak. They are quick to point out that they use the best safety equipment imported from Europe and the States. There are also zip-line and canopy walking tours as well as lots of trekking opportunities. From Champassak you can also visit the waterfalls at the Bolaven Plateau, which is impressive for its tranquillity given that it was one of the most heavily bombed places in Laos during the Vietnam War. One of the most humbling things about South East Asia is that wherever you are you will find people so peaceful and friendly that you cannot believe they’ve been through such terrible experiences. You can also visit the ruins of Wat Phou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, from Champassak. Then you can travel down the Mekong and see the rare Irrawaddy dolphins.
From Luand Namtha you can do the Ban Nam Lai trek, which takes you to a mountainous forest camp where you can see the traditional way of life of the Akha people. From Luang Namtha you can also take bike tours that last between one and three days. You can cycle through the countryside passing locals and seeing sacred sites.
In Luang Prabang you can climb Gecko Mountain. There are opportunities to learn to climb here, or for more experienced climbers, a private climbing permit is only five dollars.
Sophie Collard (@QunoSpotter) is a travel writer who you’ll find writing about the many elements of travel in various different places. She writes the blog qunospotter.co.uk which spotlights overland travel. She’s travelled over rails in the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia.
Lead image provided by Sven & Moniek on Flickr.