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Tourist numbers are up in Laos and Vientiane, the capital, too, but why is that? It’s only a few years ago that most people hadn’t heard of quiet Laos and even backpackers didn’t seek it out. However, that’s changing with travelers looking for a different experience to the Asian way of life. After all, while Thailand gets much of the media attention – not all of it good – Laos continues to quietly develop its capital and other cities and towns to be more welcoming to visitors.
Here are a few reasons why Vientiane is attracting more people than before.
The nightlife is developing at a reasonable pace in the capital. There are nightclubs open some evenings which take over existing venues. Look for the line of twentysomethings in the center of town and you’re bound to spot new and upcoming places to try out. As long as you’re into hip hop, pop and local tunes, you’ll fit right in. Local people are shy at first, but an educated crowd is emerging who are keen to expand their English by interacting with foreign visitors.
If you’re looking for something upmarket, try the Elephant bar at the Crowne Plaza hotel overlooking the Mekong river. Its stylish décor and excellent service welcome the well-healed visitor looking for a good drink in comfortable surroundings. It’s certainly only of the best bars in Vientiane and worth checking out.
More Authentic Arts and Crafts
While selling arts and crafts on the other side of the Mekong has turned into a bit of a cottage industry, it’s more authentic in Laos. There are several small stores in Vientiane that sell crafts made in a few of the villages in Laos that aren’t mass produced. The prices are far more reasonable too.
Beyond the crafts, art is a growing interest for visitors who perhaps find the garish cyan, lilac and green color predominance of artwork from Thailand to be a bit too much. A walk around the inner city will locate the latest art galleries that have sprung up to support increasing demand.
Slow Pace of Life
In this age of constant smartphone use and zipping around on tuk-tuks to every new destination or tour, travel can be exhausting! Something we think will be relaxing becomes anything but when we never pause to enjoy our surroundings.
What Laos and Vientiane do well comes naturally: a slower pace of life. Even the local people walk around at a slower pace. There’s no rush in Laos. Most traffic moves slow and is easier to navigate too. It seems that the county is in no hurry to catch up with the West when it comes to the speed of life and we’re so grateful for the respite.
While Laos isn’t on every person’s itinerary when coming to Asia, it really should be. It’s far less traveled and largely unaffected by tourism. As such, it has something to offer that’s different to other destinations fervently chasing after the tourists’ dollar.