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Laos Chat - Meet people when traveling in Laos on Nomad List

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๐Ÿ›ฌ jsqsuyi just arrived in ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Vientiane, #laos
Updates from the field in Vientiane:
โ€ข The visa fee (40USD) has to be paid in USD. Quite funny considering there's a Communist flag at the border ๐Ÿ˜‚ The officers can be quite particular. They like their bills to be pristine.
โ€ข WiFi in places varies a lot. Mobile internet with Unitel is fast (LTE speeds), although varies depending on location.
โ€ข It reminds me a lot of Chiang Mai. Great great coffeeshops and bakeries. Although a lot of buildings have a "soviet" look. There's loads of space, roads are wide. It's very chill. Everything looks quite old.
โ€ข Loads of vegetation, it's great. Air quality is super nice.
โ€ข Very cool bars, I have the feeling people are always sitting and drinking either coffee or beer.
โ€ข Saw VERY little tourists which is a great sign ๐Ÿ™‚
โ€ข Like in other places, the Chinese investors are gobbling things ๐Ÿ†™ many Chinese companies, lots of signs written in Mandarin.
โ€ข The roads are not that great. Some potholes and bad lighting. People drive EXTREMELY slow here, slowest I've seen (been in Thailand, Indonesia...)
vkzifdl really appreciate your insights. I was there in 2018 and have been itching to go back but was concerned about what impact covid might have had on the place, internet speeds etc but youโ€™ve sold me on heading back there soon

At the time I found it beautiful but boring (except for Vang Vieng, that place is mental) but a lovely place to get some work done
bbjeoxu I see what you mean... It has a bit of a "boring" tinge compared to some Thai places & Bali, etc. But it makes it feel a bit like a more "normal" place, andit could be great like you say, to get some work done ๐Ÿ™‚ I'm heading to Vang Vieng & Luang Prabang soon, will report back!
Looking forward to your thoughts on them. VV is on a hedonistic backpacker type vibe while LP is much more laid back and grounded. Both are stunningly beautiful
xtebrrp consider taking the train. itโ€™s the first โ€˜high speedโ€™ rail in se asiaโ€ฆ.soon will go all the way to kunming
qqwmnzfhojrwa yes! Going with this!
Updates from Luang Prabang:
โ€ข The vibe is 100% like Ubud (Bali), but back when it was cool. It's like Ubud before Ubud exploded. Culture, slow life, coffeeshops, temples... All next to the Mekong river. It's incredibly beautiful and relaxed.
โ€ข So far I would say Laos is like Thailand without the stress. Everything is so chill here, I love it.
โ€ข More tourists here than in Vientiane, mostly backpackers. Have not seen any DNs, but this place is ripe for remote work. It could be a bit boring, but it's so beautiful and relaxing that I could see myself here for a few months.
โ€ข Best coffeeshop Saffron, next to the Mekong river. They have an upstairs AC room, a terrace right by the Mekong. Delicious coffee and Western breakfast.
โ€ข The town is overtaken by the day & night markets. Everything you do you have to walk through some kind of market.
โ€ข Lots of monks. It's a thing here to wake up at 5-6am and sit in the street. Then the monks pass by and you give alms to them. It's pretty ethereal, like something from the past.
โ€ข The Royal Palace is a must to know a bit more about the history of Laos. Luang Prabang used to be the capital back then.
โ€ข Like you said, the train is amazing. It looks brand new and is super convenient and comfortable. Of course, this is SEA, so passengers are loud AF and bring a ton of stuff with them. Pro tip buy the tickets beforehand or have someone do it for you. Otherwise you will have to queue for the ticket OUTSIDE, at 40C. You cannot enter the station without a ticket ๐Ÿ˜ž
Awesome, ty for the review. Would love to visit for a month when my Thai visa is up.
How expensive is it? Someone told me Laos is more expensive than Thailand due to having to import a lot of stuff.
Extremely cheap, you won't believe it
We are 6 people, go for BBQs with beer & everything and end up paying like 40 USD total, it's insane
Coffee for example is top quality, probably the best I ever had, and I pay like 1.5 euro for fancy cappucinos
Oh nice.
Where are you staying? airbnb?
In Vientiane at my GF's family house, in Luang Prabang at a guesthouse. We pay around 20 USD/night, big room.
Great info again, thanks ๐Ÿ™ I plan to spend Sept and October there at least. Will DM you
๐Ÿ›ฌ rgahmug just arrived in ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Vang Vieng, #laos
Vang Vieng:
โ€ข Has a backpacker/fun vibe. Everyone here is either someone from Vientiane on a weekend trip, an organized tour, or a tourist/backpacker.
โ€ข Everything revolves around the river. Kayaking down is very popular and super fun, as there are some parts with small bumps. Also there are some riverside bars and restaurants all along the river.
โ€ข The town itself is very small, like 4-5 streets. Mostly restaurants, hotels and bars.
โ€ข With a car you can explore the surroundings. The nature here is absolutely stunning. There are a few caves to explore, also some lagoons. There's beautiful farmland & ricefields around.
โ€ข Everything is a bit empty, but the locals said this place used to be absolutely booming with people everywhere.
โ€ข Overall, I like Luang Prabang much more. VV is fun for a couple of days adventure activities, but to stay, LP is more of a city/town.
For some reason, mobile network here is not as good as in Luang Prabang!
๐Ÿ›ฌ rltijhp just arrived in ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Vientiane, #laos
Thanks for sharing! How's the scene in Luang Prabang? I visited both 12 years ago.
wokxguqx what scene?
zlqjcue Did you see a lot of nomads? Many tourists? Old or young crowd?
Hey ntosqsz thinking about spending a month in Laos next year. What's the best place in your opinion?
ohscehxwkspw I would move around. No specific city is worth a month. the new rail line makes it simple to get from Vientiane to LP to VV which is where everyone goes anyway. If you want to do something a little more unique, check out Pakse and the 4000 Islands areaโ€ฆ
Much appreciated guys ๐Ÿ™‚ I do prefer bigger cities overall but having a chill vibe for 2 weeks or so is never a bad idea. For a one month stay, would 2 weeks in both Vientiane and LP be a good way to spend my time?
Totally. Also go for a day or two to Vang Vieng, it's fun. Vientiane is like a "big town", it still is really chilled. It's no Bangkok ๐Ÿ™‚ IMO, Laos is like Thailand but 10x more 'slow-life'
Cool, thanks so much U01NWC87B5Z!
๐Ÿ›ฌ pkweubm just arrived in ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Vientiane, #laos
One more question as I'm beginning to plan my travels for next year what is the best time to visit in your opinion? is the burning season in Laos just as bed as Chiang Mai?
Found this article. Is the wet season (May - September) a good time?
When I was here in Feb/March a few years back the weather was very agreeable. This is my first time here at this time of year and the days have been dry so far but overcast (which gives you a welcome break from the sun but also seems to keep the humidity in) and there was a massive downpour at around 1am. Judging from todays forecast it will be same thing today
๐Ÿ›ฌ rdnfnve just arrived in ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Luang Prabang, #laos
Btw, are there gyms in Luang Prabang I could go to for 2 weeks? Same for the other places (VV & Vientiane)
A lot of the gyms closed during covid and haven't reopened. You'll be fine in Vientiane but in Vv I only saw one and I didn't bother going to it because it looked rubbish. Thereโ€™s 2 potentially ok ones in LP that have just been suggested to me by my hotel manager, im going to check one of them out in about an hour and the other one tomorrow but I'm keeping my expectations low
I don't think there are U02JLPTQQAC. One of the cool things you can do there to keep in shape is kayaking or joining one of those rowing teams.
Also some extremely nice hikes/runs
Is there a fast train between Vientiane and VV yet?
kiabdnfcfona Mithaphon Gym in Prabang is good. All equipment seems brand new, air conditioned, clean. Mithaphon gym

The train in Laos is great. Be aware there are airport style security checks before you enter the station, bags and body are scanned. Theyโ€™re just looking for sharp/dangerous objects. They asked me to show them the small pair of scissors I had in my wash bag but they were cool with it and let me keep it. Knifes will not be allowed including small Swiss Army knives
๐Ÿ›ฌ qiqords just arrived in ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Vientiane, #laos
Is internet really slow in laos?
mobile internet is quite fast, but not stable in some areas
Some notes from my Laos trip:

โ€ข Train from BKK - 1384 THB. Super nice clean modern sleeper train. Carriage lights are left on at night; take an eye mask
โ€ข Border crossing - 1 passport photo required (not 2 as I read online somewhere). Printout of vaccination record required. Was asked how long I was staying but not asking for proof of accomo or anything else
โ€ข Hotels will usually add 2 or 3% transaction fee if you wish to pay by card - usually not mentioned when you book
โ€ข The Vientiane -> Vang Vieng -> Luang Prabang train service is great. Fast, efficient, modern. Beautiful countryside (although a lot of tunnels between VV and LP). There is airport style security before you enter the station. Bag and body scan, looking for knifes and other dangerous items. Keep your ticket handy, they get checked on entering the station, on entering the platform, often multiple times when on the platform, after the train has left the station and when leaving your destination station.
โ€ข Laos in general Itโ€™s so chilled and relaxed here, even more so than when I was here a few years back. Some places like Vang Vieng are still desperately quiet compared to PCT (pre-covid times)

Vientiane:


โ€ข Internet fast and stable. My Thai AIS phone and hotspot SIMs worked as if I was still in Thailand and were usually faster than the local Laos SIM I ended up getting later. Once you leave the center of Vientiane you will need a Laos SIM/eSIM (or AIS roaming package)

Places I liked to work:

โ€ข Naked Espresso Misey Great coffee and food. Nice interior. A/C (this is not a given in Laos, especially outside of Vientiane)
โ€ข The Greenhouse great food for vegans and carnivores alike. Good coffee. Plastic free etc. Plenty of space to work upstairs. A/C. They play commercial music though so headphones are a must.
โ€ข Common Grounds Great coffee, average food. A/C. Bit sterile but worth it for the coffee
โ€ข Dada Cafe Good coffee, ok food. Plenty of space. Not the most comfortable chair-to-desk height ratios. A/C

Walkability Small and concentrated enough to not need a scooter. If you are located fairly centrally then nothing is more than 15min walk away. Pavements (sidewalks) are commonplace but often have cars parked on them so you have to walk in the road quite a bit.

Transport inDriver is the app for arranging taxis. Convenient and much cheaper than tuktuks or booking through your hotel/guesthouse.

Accommodation overpriced. Supply and demand I guess.


Vang Vieng:

Hasnโ€™t recovered from covid much which is good and bad. Have lagoons and caves to yourself but town is dead. Good coffee and food in Naked Espresso, crappy internet (as with everywhere else outside of Vientiane) frequent drop outs.

Full moon bar - most people (usually 1 or 2 small groups of backpackers and a couple of expats) are here at night. Phi phi and his wife are Vv legends. Ask for the โ€œspecialโ€ menu if you want something other than alcohol


Luang Prabang:

Really beautiful. Lovely to walk around (there are pavements and not so many vehicles parked on them). Internet is fast enough when connected, but the frequent drop outs became a real issue for me. Just not stable enough. Best massages. Slo-life. A/C is not always that easy to find. Great place to take a break or maybe for a less internet-dependent project (writing a book, artistic projects etc).


In short Vientiane is the only place in Laos that I could work from long term as it has reliable connectivity, some decent places to work from, a wide variety of food (including great night markets) and some decent nightlife. But I do love Luang Prabang for its beauty and general relaxed vibe and the best massages Iโ€™ve ever had in my life.
Amazing stuff, thanks U02JS2LNM7Y!
Re. the eVisa photo did you take a professional one or just snapped one at home?
I got my visa on arrival so this was a printed photo, I had a bunch printed last time I was at a copy shop in Thailand (not professional, they just took with a phone and printed out on a consumer printer and cut with scissors). Whenever I've done Evisas I've always just taken the photo myself and never had any problems
Just to make it clear if you do visa on arrival, you only need a physical photo and your passport? Searched today but info seemed confusing
Photo, passport and proof of vax (I assume recent negative test result will work in place of vax record)
Oh and some dollars
Can't remember how much
I think it was $30 or $40
You get given a visa form and arrival and departure card to fill in when you arrive. Try to not lose the departure card
Thailand TR Visa Process

Getting a Thailand TR visa from the embassy in Vientiane is a 3 day process. You need to make an appointment here first www.thaivisavientiane.com/ThaiConsular/|https://www.thaivisavientiane.com/ThaiConsular/br />
Day 1 turn up for appointment (I think all appointments are at 9am) and submit application
Day 2 wait
Day 3 Collect visa and passport between 13:30-16:00

I needed the following:

โ€ข Visa application form (you are given one when you arrive)
โ€ข 2 passport photos, they need to be a specific size but they have scissors there to trim down any oversize photos
โ€ข 3 months of bank statements printed out
โ€ข Confirmation of accommodation in Thailand printed out (my booking was for 4 nights)
โ€ข Proof of onward travel from Thailand printed out
โ€ข 1000 THB
When they have checked everything they give you a receipt with the date of collection stamped on (the third working day, so if submitting on a Friday you collect on Tuesday)

There is no print shop inside the embassy anymore but there is a guy setup outside with a printer and laptop powered by a car battery. You can print your docs here and even have your passport photos done but I recommend getting all this sorted before hand so youโ€™re not having to stand around in the heat
I loved how the prices depended on nationality and Americans had to pay the most - especially when you consider their history. With the reopening it's $40 for everyone.
Why do such random countries like Japan, Luxembourg, and Switzerland have 15 days visa exemption? Did they provide development aid to Laos or something like that? Sometimes, with Latin American countries it's mutual.
Thanks for sharing cecskak I greatly appreciated your detailed insights. What about mobile internet and video calls in Luang Prabang? I backpacked around Laos for 1 month in 2010 and it was amazing!
It was such a long trip from Vientiane to Luang Prabang in minibuses on crazy winded mountain roads.
Did you go anywhere north of Luang Prabang? I haven't made it there. 4000 Islands had an interesting vibe but super quiet, The Bolaven Plateau was a nice day trip on the motorbike from Pakse. The scenery around Vientiane is amazing. Once I stayed in an eco resort outside the town and it was totally different.
<@U02JLPTQQAC> Next summer there will probably a lots of young Thais (again) in Vientiane for the weekend to get wasted. Luang Prabang is beautiful with the temples. Not much to do.
Vientiane didn't feel like a capital city at all. A few very rich people there. The Plain of Jars in Phonsavan was pretty cool. I wouldn't make it out to Vieng Xai to see the caves where the resistance hid. Not much to see there. There was this crazy bus from Vieng Xai to Vietnam which totally rips off foreigners but I had no choice to get to Vietnam. It was a long and tiring journey.
Food was quite disappointing in Laos but great to hear about some places in the hotspots. Take my experience with a grain of salt - it was over a decade ago!
Any other tips especially north of Luang Prabang? I am thinking about going to Laos from around October 6-19 before Thailand.
Mobile internet in LP was hit and miss unfortunately. Random drop outs and deadzones made it unreliable for video calls. I did manage to do a few, it's just noticeably more choppy than in Vientiane.

Yes I remember the crazy minivan trips before they built the railway. Now you get from Vientiane to LP in 2.5hours. Less of an adventure but much more comfortable

The only place I went north of LP was Nong Khiaw. It's a cute little river town about 3hrs drive away. Great for hiking and viewpoints
Thanks! Wow, you also experienced the crazy minivan trips.
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