(Hey by the way... to get the full effect of this post you should listen to this song by Dengue Fever while you look at the photos below. The song is called 'Lost in Laos'. We listened to Dengue Fever a lot throughout our SE Asia travels - it fit the mood perfectly.)
The two day slow boat has become a popular way to travel between Thailand and Laos, and we could see why. First, it's affordable. There are a lot of packages available where you can purchase a bus ticket from Chiang Mai, accommodations in Chiang Rai, the boat ride, and a of couple of meals for about 1950 baht or about $60 per person.
The other great thing about the slow boat is meeting other travelers. We bought a pack of cards before the trip and made friends with a group that we were lucky enough to travel with for the next few days. We quickly realized that our 7 weeks of travel was looking measly next to those traveling 3 months, 5 months, 8 months, and even a full year. I mean, how awesome is that?
These people really inspired me. They knew that they wanted to travel the world, so they just got up and made it happen. They also knew full well that there is never a time that feels like the 'right' time to do such a thing.
For us, this trip was a new kind of lifestyle that to be honest we are making up as we go. Even though we couldn't take our 7 weeks of travel off from working, we did realize that we could take the opportunity to do our work from some pretty amazing places.
The slow boat took us to Luang Prabang in Laos where we almost immediately headed out to see the gorgeous Kuang Si waterfalls (about an hour outside of the city). Even though the weather was warm, I can't exactly say the same about the water. It didn't matter though, we jumped in anyway to explore the layers and layers of falls.
The color was incredible and unlike any waterfalls I'd seen before. If you're planning on going, there are a lot of helpful reviews and tips on the falls here.
Once we entered Laos, we could immediately start to see some French influence. There were plenty of french villas, and piles of baguettes on every street corner.
After a few days of exploring Luang Prabang, we took a bus to Vientiane, Laos. Buddha Park is outside of Vientiane, which was the main reason for us heading to the area. The bus ride was long (about 10 hours, but we were able to see a lot of the Laos countryside which we otherwise would have missed). It was also significantly cheaper than flying. Sadly though, even though Buddha Park was cool, the rest of Vientiane was just ok. Compared to the rest of the trip, it was probably our least favorite stop. So if you're planning a trip to SE Asia, you might want to keep that in mind.
The park is relatively new (started in 1958), but feels historical and is just a really cool place to see. If you do end up going to Buddha park, I would recommend not going midday like we did (it gets pretty steamy hot). I'm betting morning or later afternoon would be more comfortable!
We loved our time in Laos, and I can't wait to share the next parts of the trip with you (Vietnam and Cambodia!).