Reasons to Travel in Laos & Cambodia


Many people see these two countries as dark and dangerous, especially Cambodia with it’s more recent history. Nothing could be further from the truth. Having been to both countries numerous times I can only say I feel much safer walking around, any time of day, than I do in my native Melbourne. So for me, there is no reason to avoid these fantastic countries. Depending on what you google they both usually come up in the poorest 20 countries in the world. The majority of the top 20 are in Africa so compared to it’s neighbours the poverty will hit you up front even more so. BUT! It seems that poverty equates to friendliness in this region. Sitting down at the corner bar on Sisowath Quay in Pnom Penh for a happy hour 50 cent beer or a beerlao beside the Mekong River in Laos will have you surrounded by friendly faces as you watch a totally different world pass by from that back home. The culture will delight you just to begin. Now to the actual tourist attractions.

No one needs to mention Angkor Wat in Cambodia anymore as it had 2 million visitors in 2016. The town of Siem Reap has now developed along with these arrivals. Twenty years ago the local market and odd Western restaurant were the only choices. Today, French, Italian and Mexican among many others are the choice. Luckily there are still locals markets where cheap Khmer food like the delicious national dish of Amok is available, surrounded by locals. Did you really come to Cambodia to eat pizza?

Pnom Penh has numerous attractions like the Silver Pagoda and fabulous national Museum to mention two as you wander around the back streets to see local life as the even bigger attraction. Unpaved roads in the city will give you a chance to see how lucky you are back home, even more so in rainy season. Recent history is on display also at the Killings Fields and Tuol Sleng museum. Heading south to the beach in Sianoukville will give those who want it another option again. But it will be travelling through rural Cambodia and Laos that will give you a bigger insight into just how poor these places/people are. A visit to Kratie to take a look at the local fresh market may see you with your first case of culture shock but yet again surrounded only by friendly faces. Likewise there is no better way to see local life in Laos than the local bus from Udomxai to Luang Prabang or on a Mekong River slow boat.

UNESCO heritage listed Luang Prabang is  the Laos equivalent of Angkor as the number one highlight. Obviously there is good reason for that also. No one  s stand out thing to see apart from Kuang Si waterfall as the must see for most.   L.P. is the entire highlight in itself with a charm that bewitches most visitors. Another of the great highlights in all S.E. Asia.  While L. P. has all the creature comforts you want it will be Udomxai that will show you  real Laos  local life.  Next up Vang Vieng is as a beautiful a town as anywhere with it’s wonderful mountain panorama location.   Even though it has been turned into somewhat of a tourists party town it still has more than enough charm for a day or two for those seeking an early night. The Laos capital of Vientiane is declared by all to be the sleepiest capital in Asia and I won’t say anything to deny that. A joy to walk around after Bangkok and/or K.L. among many others. Numerous tourist attractions like the Laos equivalent of the Arc De Triompe of Patuxai, Wat That Luang among numerous other temples are mostly an easy stroll away. The National Museum or a local market will keep you occupied also. Lastly to the less visited South of Laos is Savanakhet and even more so Pakse, with its Heritage listed Wat Phu Champasak, being as laid back as it gets in laid back Laos.

Safe and extremely friendly, local culture, food and beer to rival any and many actual tourist attractions  as good as anywhere on earth. As cheap as you want it to be also. So time to visit before the fast food chains arrive and the culture is gone. Both countries have real tourist attractions as well as being for real Baktrax travellers.

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