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Vientiane was a bland-spirited, straight-faced urban player with few bones of humor to pick; and though, Luang Prabang was inviting as a foreigner-friendly, party-throwing mecca, convivial to tourists, its only dwellers seemed to be travelers, monks and those who work in tourism.
Was Laos the virginal beauty other travelers convinced me it was? If so, where was its rural spirit of its local villages?
Outside of the cities, rural Laos is pure and refreshing
Laos is still largely an untouched country, with great mountain scenery, ethnic minority villages of Hmong, Khmu, Lao and Vietnamese and great trekking. Compared to its Southeast Asian neighbors, like Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand,… Laos is still behind times and it’s in no hurry to catch up.
Hitting the Laotian countryside, the facades of French colonial architecture melted away. Concrete turned to wood and earth, revealing a Laotian maiden. Small communities of bamboo hut villages, wrapped in the karst landscape that’s fed by the Mekong snake. Rice paddy fields stretch over the land like canvas and locals enjoy the simple unfettered existence of ‘village life’.
Why should you visit Laos?
My top reason for recommending Laos to anyone is that it’s because it’s just so damn beautiful!
The view alongside the Nam Ou and Mekong River as I traveled from Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw are landscapes that look like paintings and this country will go down in my archives as having one of the most visually spell-binding. Karst mountains reaching up from riverbeds, with trees dotting like an impressionist painting.
Laotian lifestyle in a rural environment
These are photos of people working in the marketplaces and in smaller villages, even hill tribes.
Is Laos still a virginal beauty? It would seem so.
Getting to Nong Khiaw (from Luang Prabang)