ORLA Tours experts tell you their tips for your next trip to Laos.
You are planning a trekking expedition in Southeast Asia, but you are not sure about the country to go? The mountains of Vietnam and the north of Thailand come quickly to mind when talking about walking in this part of the world. But know that there is a small country unknown, surrounded by all these tourist destinations, Laos. It has many assets such as a very preserved fauna and flora, the presence of ethnic groups living in autarky, breathtaking mountain sceneries and rice paddies.
The diversity of these lands will be suitable for both experienced trekkers and walkers looking for a family adventure. But if you are not convinced yet, here are 5 reasons that will persuade you to come for a trek in Laos to live an unforgettable adventure.
The major things to bring
The most important document of your stay is obviously your passport. Keep it with you 24 hours a day. Bring a photocopy with you or keep a copy in your mailbox. This will greatly facilitate the process if you lose the original. Also remember to print your bookings/reservations and keep them with you on the plane. That way, if your baggage doe not arrive at your destination, you will not be totally lost.
The famous mosquito repellent type 5/5 TROPICAL that you will find in pharmacy, will allow you to be at peace when the mosquitoes will turn around in the early evening. Many travelers are worried about malaria in Laos. You must know that the insects carrying the disease are very rare in the dry season (from October to April).
Please note that the sun hits hard in Laos. It should therefore be well protected: sunglasses, sunscreen total screen or high index, cap or hat are essential.
The pharmacy kit is also very important. The ideal is to go to your doctor before leaving. He will give you a prescription to deal with all the small inconveniences. Because, we will not hide it, with the jet lag and the change of diet, you will for sure get have not pleasant gastric episodes.
Choose your clothes depending on the season, and respectfully for local people
Laotians are modest, men as well as women. In order to respect the locals, do not stroll bare-chested or barefoot in the street. Avoid wearing shorts or very short skirts, low cut or bare shoulders. These rules are a little more flexible in the cities because local people are starting to get used to the attitudes of tourists but in the villages, it is very badly perceived. When visiting or crossing temples or spiritual places, it is important to wear decent attire.
It can rain all year in Laos, you can take a light raincoat but it is also possible to buy rain ponchos if you are in town. Opt for clothes that dry quickly.
From December to mid-February, it can be cold especially in the northern part of Laos. For example, during the nights temperatures can go down easily to 10 C in the city and 3 C in altitude in the mountains. During the day it can be 25 C as 15-16 C, depending on whether the day is sunny or not. A good sweatshirt, warm pants, a scarf will be your best assets! Especially if you sleep in a remote village.
The rest of the year, prefer light but covering clothes that will protect you from the aggressions of the sun. Remember to bring your swimsuit. For women prefer a one-piece swimsuit, or even take a big T-shirt (the Laotians themselves, bath dressed). You will have the opportunity to swim at the waterfall, river or pool of your hotel.
For shoes, choose models with which you are comfortable to walk, which take off and on easily. You will have to remove them to visit temples, sacred places or before entering people. Flip flops are a must for the evening or for bathrooms.
What should you take for the nights in homestay ?
If you leave the cities to discover Laos more deeply, the hotels with "European" standards leave the place to small local guesthouses, and those who want to meet the ethnic groups will sleep directly in villages. It is an immersion far from our western comfort.
Homestay, mattress, blankets and mosquito net are provided. However, they are not always washed after the night of each traveler. For those who are concerned about hygiene, take a light sleeping bag with you. You can also be certain that you will be awakened at dawn by the songs of the roosters, the noises of the pigs, and the inhabitants getting busy with their morning activities. To make the most of these precious hours of sleep, consider earplugs.
Depending on the villages, there are several ways to have a shower: the river, the fountain on a village square or the little wooden cabin with toilets and a tap. In all cases the water is cold. You must bring everything you need for your personal hygiene including toilet paper! Choose a thin towel that dries quickly. For women bring a sarong or a thin wide dress (as they sell at night markets) to hide your body while you wash yourself.
Some villages have not electricity all the time. Therefore, a headlamp or torch is essential. It will be extremely practical when you will be looking for the bathroom door in the middle of the night. You can also bring an external battery to charge your device or phone.
If you go for a hiking adventure, prefer a light backpack
It is possible that you go on a trek for 2 or 3 days from village to village. In this case, you will have to carry your personal belongings and your water by yourself, the rest of your luggage being left at the hotel or in your minivan. The motto is to leave with a small lightweight backpack! One dress for the evenings is enough. For hikes, we recommend light pants that will protect you from the vegetation and a long-sleeved t-shirt in technical tissue. You can rinse it at night to wear it again the next day. Anyway after 15 minutes it will be full of sweat again. In addition to the bare essentials, remember to pack toilet paper, shampoo and soap in very small bottles.
The choice of shoes is very important. They must be made for hiking and well ventilated, because it will be hot and humid. You will probably also have to cross rivers. Do not forget the flip-flops, it's a relief for your feet after a day of walking and they are essential for getting washed.
To get hydrated properly, we recommend the use of a 1.5 or 2 liter camel bag. This will save you from having to search your bag whenever you are thirsty.
I’m going for a motorbike adventure, what should’nt I forget ?
Take a 30/40 liter backpack waterproof and dustproof. You will use it as your suitcase during your bike trail. The rest of your stuff will stay at the Off Road Laos Adventures travel agency.
The equipment is provided by Off-Road except the trousers. Take a biker shorts to avoid irritation after several days on the track, thick socks in case your boots are a little big, a scarf to protect your neck of the sun, a long-sleeved T-shirt in technical tissue that can dry quickly ...
Do not forget the dust mask or nose mask that is essential if you want to fully enjoy your motorcycletrip.
It is possible to buy some in Luang Prabang. To get hydrated properly, we recommend the use of a 1.5 or 2 liter camel bag. It avoids having to dig in his bag every time you are thirsty. As you will be riding a motorcycle off the beaten path, information about homestay nights is also valid for you.
That's it, the Off Road Laos Adventures team has given you all the information that you need to well prepare your bags for your trip to Laos. We recommend you to read our article on how to plan your trip to complete your preparation. For us, the aim is that you leave as confident as possible, in order to enjoy your stay in the best way possible. See you soon in Laos !!