We recently came to Vietnam from Laos after spending just a week there. We absolutely loved Thailand which set the bar very high for Laos. It took us 2 long long days of traveling down the Mekong River before arriving into Luang Prabang, and when we arrived we didn’t hit it off to a good start. Everything was much more expensive (still crazy cheap compared to England but double what we had been paying in Thailand). I think we can both agree that we let the cost of things get in the way of what could have been a great few weeks here. When we left Laos we heard people say they loved it, it was their favourite place so far and that they’ve spent months there…where did we go wrong?
It had cost us £30 on a visa to get into the country as well as about £30 traveling there, which in the end sort of went to waste because we didn’t make the most of how long we could have had there.
So I’m writing this short post to just give a few tips from what we’ve learnt about Laos and what we would have done different had we gone back and started again. Sort of a what to do if you go somewhere and you don’t think you like it, sort of post.
1. If you’ve paid for a visa, make sure you get your money’s worth. Yes £30 on a visa sounds like a lot when you’re daily budget is only £35, but spending 30 days there means you’ve only spent £1 a day to be there, whereas being there for 7 days means you’ve spent a lot more.
2. Yes the food might be a bit more expensive, but once you accept that that’s what it is rather than being frustrated by it, it becomes less of an issue. Also you are almost guaranteed to find cheap places anywhere you go, if you just put in the extra bit of time to research/find them!
3. Mind set is everything, if you go somewhere with the initial negative mindset that it’s expensive/tacky/boring… you’re going to be seeing everything with those preconceptions clouding what you could actually see. So maybe don’t read up on the negatives and go into it with a totally open mind!
4. Get out and see stuff. Seriously wherever you can, rent bicycles or rent a motorbike to get out of the town centre and do your own thing. We didn’t get a bike in Laos and I definitely think it’s where we went wrong, it limited us to what was near by and meant we missed most of what was on offer.
5. Read some blogs about people’s incredible trips to where ever it is you are that you’re not in love with. Read about why they love it, what they did there and copy their itinerary…if it’s a popular destination you’re in, it must be popular for a reason!
Luckily I think we’ve learnt from our mistakes and we’re absolutely loving Vietnam. I do feel bad that we didn’t give Laos a chance, but we won’t be doing the same thing again, so I’m glad we learnt what we did so early on in our trip!
What would you do if you got somewhere and you didn’t love it straight away?
Until next time,