As you guys know… all of us at Real Gap Experience are obsessed with travelling, I mean we are literally hooked on it - our team member Chris is perhaps even more hooked than others! The man called Asia home for twelve months, trust fam, he knows his Cao Lau from his Khao Soi!
After being back in the UK for about eighteen months Chris already felt it was about time to go and visit Asia again, this time heading out to LAOS – somewhere he’d previously passed through but not explored to his usual liking.
We thought it was a good idea to hook Chris up and let him start off by completing our Laos Experience, this way he’d get properly equated with this beautiful yet relatively undiscovered country.
Known as Lao People’s Democratic Republic (LAO PDR) travellers are drawn in by the chilled vibes that fill the country, giving the true meaning of Lao PDR – Laos, Please Don’t Rush.
Now Chris is back with the team we couldn’t wait to share his must go places…
Vang Vieng is a riverside town located in the Vientiane province of Laos. The area is filled with beautiful landscapes, outdoor activities and wild backpacker parties. It’s here you can get the adrenaline pumping with all sorts of activities such as kayaking, caving, mountain hikes, cycling and loads more.
After a hard day getting your kicks you can either sit back and chill by the Nam Song River or continue the fun late into the night with a great party culture that fills the place.
Chris’ Tips: After the Kayaking activity you might be tired but try and refrain from going home early as the group generally go and enjoy themselves with some well-earned drinks.
Luang Prabang is the former capital of Laos and now a UNESCO World Heritage City. A mix of temples, traditional Lao architecture and European inspired houses (from the French colony of Indochina) form the centre, with rivers and mountains surrounding the city.
A short Tuk-Tuk journey will take you to the amazing waterfalls which border Luang Prabang, here you'll find astonishing views and natural rock pools which are great for swimming in. The city itself offers vast amounts of culture with traditional cuisine but also multiple French eateries to choose from, markets and temples to explore, along with almsgiving ceremonies – an act of humbleness where Buddhist monks are given food and other items to show thanks and respect.
Chris’ Tips: At the waterfalls make sure you trek to the top as it doesn’t take long and is well worth it – plus you get to cool off in the water afterwards.
Tham Kong Lo
Tham Kong Lo is regarded as one of the most vivid highlights of central Laos. A natural seven kilometre river tunnel through a limestone karst mountain! You’ll have moments of pitch-black darkness however sections of the cave are atmospherically lit to show off the incredible sights within. After passing through the cave you end up in a beautiful hidden valley with a village there too.
Long-tail boats take around an hour to travel from end-to-end in Kong Lor Cave. When the river is low don’t be surprised if you get the opportunity to get in the water and take a closer look around, this is often the case when the guides need to carry the long-tail up any rapids. Inside the cave is also a pool which glows a bright emerald colour, the locals hold this as sacred.
Chris’ Tips: If you have a decent flashlight or head torch it’s definitely worth taking along! It’s also a good idea to wear shoes that you don’t mind getting wet – if you do end up getting out the boat the riverbed is pretty rocky.
We asked Chris if he had anything else to say (he generally always does), something to remember is: 'Don’t hold back on the welcome meal, there are some incredible authentic dishes with flavours you would have never tried before'. Another note from Chris is: 'Don’t assume the baguettes are plain old boring European flavours, you can find some awesome flavours without spending much money.'