You will find here some advises on :
Learn to speak a bit of Lao.
Great every people "Sabaidy" before you start talking. It would be considered impolite otherwise.
Forget what you have heard about Laos two years ago : it is no longer dirt cheap and the people are no longer "so friendly" and "so uninterested by money", at least on the touristy track.
Avoid the tourist crowd : more and more tricky but so rewarding ! There still exist plenty of opportunities to visit untouched villages and, with the one month visa, most travelers are using the same route (the one described in Passplanet basically).
Use drug far away from any official : you really wish that your smoke remains nobody's business !
Do not give anything to the kids : no pen (they sell it back), no candy (it damage their teeth) and certainly no money ! Too much damage has been done already by short-sighted tourists or even backpackers !
Bring a book for the bus station's usual long wait
Travel at the back of the truck or tuk-tuk or, if a man, on the roof of the bus : for the view and comfort, it is better to have your legs pending outside rather than being crushed inside...
Backpacker's Tips :
Shelley (July 01)
How to keep the low cost even lower ?
Avoid the expensive speed boat. A lot of thrills if no rain though...
Buy coffee or Ovaltine at any shop (around K6000 for small size) and prepare your drinks yourself using the free hot water of your guesthouse. You will save K2000 per glass...
Travel with someone as there is a penury of single room in the country.
Eat at noodle shops or food stall (K2000 for noodle soup or cold noodle) instead of western restaurants or guesthouse. A good way to meet local people as well.
Get free drinking water or tea (sometimes with ice) from most of the guesthouses (ask to drink what they drink and you should see big water plastic containers) and food stall.
Stay sober : beer is relatively expensive at K5000. Lao-Lao, the local spirit is cheaper at K1000 a shot. If there is several of you, you got hooked or wishes to do like the local men, buy it by the bottle for around K5000.
But remember that enjoying a trip is sometimes or from time to time worth a little bit more... Backpacking is more about the bag than the money !
Laos is quite terrible as they eat almost everything that moves. You have to be very careful with your order and again count on diet made of fried rice and noodles. Be careful with the noodle soup because sometime they put meat inside as well. Sometimes, you will have to compromise and eat some ants that accidentally made their way to your sticky rice.
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