Busabout Asia has a new tour program you can join that will take you around Laos
I got approached by Busabout, who offer adventure tours, they have just recently launched new routes around South East Asia and set up Busabout Asia. They are offering a fun selection of packages around this exciting continent and when they told me about it, they caught my attention.
I like the flexibility of travelling with a tour group that Busabout already offers around Europe and decided to try out one of their new Busabout Asia tours to see what it was all about.
My Busabout Asia adventure took me to Laos
I have to be honest, I never had any intention of travelling to Laos, it wasn’t on the top of my list and I hadn’t even given the country a cheeky google to see what it was all about. With this in mind (Perks of going with a tour, it’s already organized for you!) I decided to leave Laos as an open book, not give the daily Busabout Asia tour itinerary a little look over (As tempted as I was), decided to jump on the bus, emerge myself in Laos, and prepare myself for an adventure.
Starting the Trip in Northern Thailand
Busabout Asia has a Mini Thai, Laos adventure package that I jumped on, this allows you to start out in Northern Thailand explore Chiang Mai for a couple of days, explore Chiang Rai for a stop over night, which allows you to explore the White temple of Wat Rong Khun before crossing the border into Laos, which is a nice added bonus.
This is the best way to start your Laos adventure as it’s easy and affordable to reach Chiang Mai from Bangkok. You can either fly with a budget airline to Chiang Mai or grab the night train sleeper to reach Chiang Mai where your tour will start. It’s possible to visit Pai also, join the tour in Bangkok for the night train and visit the stunning foothill town of Pai along the way.
Crossing the border into Laos
Our tour bus departed early to arrive at the Laos border crossing in time which made all the difference, the whole process went with a breeze, after grabbing a border bus, sorting out my Laos Visa forms, passport photo and paying the Laos visa fee, my stamp was in my passport, adding a new country to my list and onto a Tuk Truck we went to meet up with our Mekong River boat.
Entering the Mekong River
There is no other better to travel around Laos than along the Mekong river on a river boat. The tour included a two day boat trip and Busabout had arranged our very one personal River boat managed and run by a local family. This made all the difference as you’re practically having the whole boat and river to yourself.
Sit back, relax and take in the whole of Laos as you cruise by on your very own private Laos River boat, it was awesome fun and the views from the boat whilst you watched the hills pass by was an experience to remember, great way to explore the Laos.
Busabout offers trips in manageable group sizes to make the trip more personal. It was easy to bond with everyone on the trip and it was great fun to make so many new friends and share this experience together with them.
After Travelling solo for 6 weeks up till that point it was lovely to share this part of my journey with others and starting out on the Mekong River boat was a great way to chat, break the ice and get along with everyone on our Laos adventure trip.
Stopping off in Pak Beng
Following the Mekong to Luang Prabang takes two days, having a stop off at Pak Beng, a riverside town along the route, broke up the journey and offered a unique stop off, it’s interesting to explore life by the river and see how the locals make things happen, it was a small place with an active night market full of bizarre foods on offer such as BBQ frogs an ox tail, whatever works they make it work, that’s life by the river for you!
Exploring the sacred Buddha caves of Pak Ou village
Following into the second day of our trip along the Mekong the day is broken up with a stop off at the sacred cave, close to the village of Pak Ou village. The caves are hidden into a mountain face, and once you head up a flight of stairs you’re brought into the entrance that will unearth a whole collection of over a thousand Buddha statues. As you walk around you will discover loads of different Buddhas in a variety of different shapes and sizes, great way to spend some time off the boat, see some interesting statues of the Buddha and stretch your legs as the stairs are quite a climb before embarking on your final voyage to the city of Luang Prabang.
Luang Prabang is a must visit on your next trip to Laos
Luang Prabang was my favorite stop along my Laos adventure, the city has so much going on with lots to explore and it’s got a great vibe going on. The first thing we did after checking into our hotel was to climb up to the top of Mount Phusi to catch one of the most amazing sunsets I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying something.
You get a great overlook of the whole city, the Mekong river you’ve just travelled across and the sun sets over the mountain tops that look over the Luang Prabang city. A truly magical moment, be sure to arrive 30 minutes before sunset as it gets busy and crowded, you want to grab a great spot to enjoy the show.
Giving of the alms Luang Prabang
If you can get up at crazy O’clock like the local monks do, it’s possible to take part in the giving of the alms. Due to the large amount of temples in Luang Prabang a huge monk community surrounds the city and every morning you can give an offering of food to the monks, this normally consists of Sticky rice and chocolate bars and makes for an interesting way to see the city and local culture of Buddhism in the city of Luang Prabang which is what gives the city its UNESCO world heritage title.
Learning about rice production in the Laos rice fields at Living Land experience.
Now this is not the type of excursion you would normally expect, but totally good fun and a great way to learn about the daily life of Laos people. Rice is an important staple in Laos and especially Sticky rice, which is popular in this area of the world. Pop on your Asian sun hat, roll up your shorts and sleeves and jump into the watery mud to harvest some rice. You’re guided through all 13 stages of rice production and learn how to plough with an Ox (his name is Suzuki), Harvest the Rice and best of all enjoy your final results and eat some at the end too (yummy!).
I have to say this is something wild and out there, but a great learning experience if you ever want to get into the heart of the Laos rice fields and see how rice production is possible.
Kuang Si Waterfalls in Luang Prabang
Located a short drive away from Luang Prabang you will find the Kuang Si waterfall, bring your swimming gear and enjoy the many different stages of the waterfall, you can swim in about 5 different sections and as you walk further up you will discover the peak of the fall which is a photo opportunity not to be missed. For sure worth the short drive over.
Plain of Jars, how did they get there?
The story goes that some Local giants had a bit too much of the local tipple “Lao, Lao” and ended up dropping loads of these large stone shaped Jars around the countryside of Laos. I like that story and I’m going to stick with it. Exploring the sites (There are about 3 main ones) you can discover all of these different jar shapes scattered randomly around the fields, they are fun to look at and wonder how they possibly ended up there, I will leave the real story for your guide to explain, I like the giant one best.
Travelling through the foothills
Laos has some fantastic scenic drives, especially on the way towards Vang Vieng, as you weave through the lopping hill roads you discover these incredible scenic vista views looking out to the Foothills, pure green for miles on end the clouds settle bellow the tops to bring it all to life, many times across this route you have to ask the driver politely to stop by the side to snap away.
No more tubing in Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng used to be popular for its backpacker tubing culture, but ever since the local government has cracked down on a large majority of river side bars break away from this image due to a large increase of drink related deaths. Vang Vieng has had an image facelift and has since changed its ways.
Kayaking down the river you start to notice that Vang Vieng is stunning! It has an incredible scenic backdrop and its purely complimented whilst taking it all in along the river in a kayak, this is for sure worth the experience.
Final stop in Vientiane
Vientiane was the final stop on Laos adventure, here we explored a handful of temples around Vientiane, the night market which was worth exploring, before saying goodbye to our Busabout Asia guides, everyone on our tour and to Laos it self as we all flew out to Bangkok and brought an end to our trip.
My Final thoughts on Laos?
It was an unexpected adventure, Laos has so much beauty on every corner, from the Mekong river to the tribes people in the foothills every corner is worth exploring, not only the surrounds are beautiful, but the people too, they are so humble even though they have been through so much in the past with conflicts they still have a smile and a positive attitude towards life, it’s incredible to experience Laos and it’s not to be missed.
It’s a trip I’ll always remember and I’m grateful for Busabout Asia for introducing me to Laos in the best possible way. Be sure to include Laos on your next trip to South East Asia with Busabout Asia.
Thank you for reading my blog post and I wish you a wonderful time in Laos, if you have any tips you would like to share about Laos, would like some more info about Busabout Asia, or share your own experience, please feel free to post in the comment section below: