To continue my travel budgeting series around Asia, next up is Laos!
I finally made it to Laos after missing it during my last trip to Asia in 2013. Since I went in the low season this year, I found it harder in some aspects for traveling around and budgeting.
I still managed to meet quite a few new traveler friends, but starting off my time in the country with a week straight of heavy rains in Luang Prabang, put a bit of a damper on my time, literally.
Off season or not, Laos turned out to be on par, or even a little cheaper, than its neighboring Southeast Asian countries of Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Food and drink especially were inexpensive and accommodation prices varied a lot depending on where I was in the country.
This is everything I spent during my 28 days in Laos!
“‘Live each day as if it’s your last’, that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that? What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy? It just wasn’t practical. Better by far to simply try and be good and courageous and bold and to make a difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Go out there with your passion and your electric typewriter and work hard…something. Change lives through art maybe. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance.” // Emma Morley (Excerpt from One Day)
When I stepped on that flight to Hong Kong last October, I had no idea how much my life would change in the course of eight months.
When you think of Vietnam, you probably think of moody landscapes, thick jungles, and the hectic nature of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Very rarely do people think of tropical islands when considering a trip to Vietnam.
There are actually quite a few islands that tend to be less touristy than the mainland, because, well, not that many people know about them. I finally had my own tropical Vietnamese island experience this year on Phú Quốc.
When I was planning my first trip to Asia in 2013, the countries that I was most looking forward to seeing were Thailand and Indonesia. I thought for sure Bali and Thailand as a whole were going to be my favorite spots from my two months of travels.
In reality, they ended up being the biggest disappointments from that trip.
May was the month I turned 27! I started the month in Thailand and ended it in Laos, my 28th country. And let me just say, I’m glad my country count is keeping ahead of my age, I think that’s a good sign.
This month included meeting up with one of my close friends, Pascale, who I met in Thailand a couple of months ago. May was also a month of readjusting to another new Asian culture, and finally discovering Laos for the first time, a country I’ve been wanting to see for years.
This is where I went and what I got up to in May.
Pink and purple.
If I could describe Laos in colors, it would be pink and purple. There’s this soft haze of pastels that often falls over the country, and it’s easy to see why they call this the romantic traveler’s paradise.
The outline of the distant mountains, the soothing flow of the river, the soft swaying jungle always close by as you walk home from another night of paper lanterns, solo street guitar players, and red brick sidewalks.
This is Laos, a country I’ve been wanting to visit since I first came to Southeast Asia in 2013. I missed out on seeing the country back then, but I knew I didn’t want that to be the case this time I was in Asia.
There’s nothing like an Asian night bus to make you think of your own mortality,
The stained curtains swing side to side in tune to the curves as we go around again.
I have The xx on repeat, thinking about all of life’s little defeats and how I got here.
The driver is going 80 on a hairpin turn, the wheels hugging the road just slightly so,
Will this be the last thing I see before I go?
I visited Koh Chang twice over the course of a couple of months and I easily found the draw of this “elephant island”. With its hilly jungles, uncrowded beaches, and the feeling that you’ve reached one of the less touristy spots in Thailand, there is a lot to love about Koh Chang.
I never thought I’d be a long-term island girl, where I’d actually enjoy living on islands for more than a month or two. I love being busy, living in vibrant cities, going to live gigs, finding new architecture, cafes, and street art down alleyways.
But guys, I have to admit, I’m kind of addicted to island life now. And I would say that Koh Chang was the island that started that addiction.
Kelsey and I quickly made our way to the Saigon Opera House, a short walk from where we were staying, and where we would be meeting our tour group for the day. We had signed up for a Mekong Discovery tour with Intrepid Urban Adventures, and we had a full day ahead of us of agricultural wonders and good food.
This was my first tour with Intrepid, but I had heard great things about them from other travelers and bloggers alike, which made me seek them out. They have tours all over the world, and their Urban Adventure tours specifically are meant to be more focused on the local side of a destination.
You can feel the vibrancy as soon as you touch down in Saigon – the motorbikes whizzing by, the smells, the sizzling heat.
Last time I was in the city, I was overwhelmed. It was one of the first cities I visited in Asia and my senses were doing overtime. I didn’t know how to cross the street without having a heart-racing adrenaline kick each time, and I soon found out that the motorbike thieves are a real thing when one tried to grab my friend’s bag from behind.
It was too much and I wrote off Saigon as a big city that I would never enjoy visiting. But as I sometimes find when I travel more, I couldn’t have been more wrong with my initial prejudice against the city.