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Just Back From... Laos

19th September 2018

Tara from the Wild Frontiers US office has just returned from exploring the Southeast Asian country of Laos, one of the region's last undiscovered gems.

Best view?

This would have to be a tie between Tad Fane and Tad Yuang waterfalls, both located on the lush Bolaven Plateau. The beauty of these waterfalls is breath-taking and made me feel quite small. Visiting during the slow season meant that we nearly had the entire place to ourselves!

Favourite dish?

Food in Laos is so fresh, and I love the range and combinations of herbs and spices they use. I particularly enjoyed Laap, which is the unofficial national dish of Laos; this dish is so tasty that I found myself eating it every day! While typically comprised of minced marinated meat, I particularly enjoyed the version above which included a variety of wild mushrooms and tofu.

Best night’s accommodation?

Mekong Riverview Hotel in Luang Prabang is fantastic. The staff are friendly and accommodating and the location is difficult to beat. I really appreciated the attention to detail; the décor, furnishings, art and books are all unmistakably Laos – it doesn’t feel like you are staying in a hotel anywhere else. I loved eating delicious breakfasts with a view of the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers!

Best activity?

MandaLao Elephant Conservation is fantastic. Not only did I learn a lot about protecting these gentle giants, but also my face hurt at the end of the day from smiling so much. Their property is beautiful, and their tours are seamless from start to finish.

Favourite moment?

Giving alms to monks at sunrise in Luang Prabang was truly a special moment. It was especially incredible to be able to participate in the ceremony respectfully with my guide’s directive.

Best souvenir?

Hand-woven textiles in Luang Prabang and coffee from the Bolaven Plateau. It was fascinating to learn about the art of weaving which has been passed down from generation to generation and to be able to purchase wares directly from the source.

Tips for travellers

It may sound cliché, but my best advice is to ask questions and be curious. Laotian people are eager to share their stories and roots and there is so much to learn – so soak it up like a sponge. I really enjoyed not only learning about the broader culture and history of the region but also getting to know my guides on a more personal level so that I could understand the peoples’ struggles and joys – what really makes people tick.

Also – wake up early! I am no morning person; however the early hours are a magical time in Laos as everything comes alive.

Any regrets?

Not being in Laos for longer!

Tara Buffington

Tara's passion for travel was sparked when she studied abroad in New Zealand in her university years; she chipped in on an inexpensive car with friend…

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