GO Conference & Incentive

GO Conference & Incentive
GO Conference & Incentive
GO Conference & Incentive
GO Conference & Incentive
GO Conference & Incentive

Destinations

I arrived into Vientiane airport and made my way into town where we were staying at the Settha Palace, which is a gorgeous boutique hotel. Our hotel was conveniently located within easy walking distances to restaurants, bars, shops and numerous spa houses. The city is dotted with small hotels of varying star ranking. If you are looking for the larger more corporate and/or group hotels, they are located about 10mins out of the centre. By far the flashest hotel would be The Landmark, which also hosted Barack Obama not so long ago.

In the evenings, alongside the river, Vientiane has a large market which is open every day where you can buy t-shirts, sports shoes, souvenirs etc. If shopping is not your thing, approx. 50m away, you can partake in one of their outdoor aerobics classes.

We found ourselves a rooftop bar and a seat out on the terrace, where we perched and watched the evening unfold before us. 2 powered paragliders were flying over and around the markets as well. I have to say, the river was the place to be- it was a real combination of sights.

After our drink we moved on to dinner, and found an open air restaurant located on the beach. Had we been back in NZ, this place would have been deemed a wreck. The deck was wonky, the walkways were uneven, the stairs were narrow and steep – but you know what, it was packed. Our waiter didn’t speak English, but we got by with lots of smiles and lots of pointing,…

In the evening, local hawkers with their food stalls line the streets…..on that note, Vietiane doesn’t seem to have a lot of footpath space, so you find yourself walking on the edge of the roads a lot of the time. Keep an eye out for the open drains & cracked pavers, a trap for young players walking home in the dark.

Ensure you see the highlights of the city and head out to visit some of the renowned temples areas such as Wat Sisaket, Haw Phra Kaew and Phra That Luang. Always remember to dress appropriately for these temples by covering knees & shoulders.

Luang Prabang was our next stop – after a quick flight we found ourselves in a UNESCO World Heritage city. Everything was “quaint” and “cute”. Small guesthouses ranging from 8-35 rooms where permitted in the centre, which is what gives the town its charm, no great big buildings or hotels. They also have a bright and colourful market that runs every evening.

An experience that I can now tick off my bucket list was the Tak Bat. At 5.30am you head into town and wait in the streets for the hundreds of saffron robed Monks to walk silently down from their temples to receive (alms) your food offerings. This daily ritual is a lovely opportunity to get up close and personal with the monks.

Restaurants are found all along the waterfront, so selecting a little eatery with nice views was easy. Food is good and super cheap, and be prepared to walk, as it is much easier to move around on foot and find those little hidden treasures & sights.

On our second day in Luang Prabang we hired a boat & guide and headed out on the Mekong River. A stop at the sacred Pak Ou Buddha Caves was enlighting, and then we made a visit to Ban Xanghai village, where we were blessed with a traditional Laotian Baci ceremony by the villagers. This tradition has all the villagers tying a piece of string around your wrists and wishing you luck & warding off bad spirts. We had to wear the string bracelets for 1-3 days in order for the luck to work. We were then offered food and made to feel very much a part of their community.

To sum up, although I only experienced a small part of Laos, it is still relatively unspoilt, affordable and filled with delightful people. I would recommend this part of the world for personal leisure travel. As it doesn’t really cater for the masses, this lack of large infrastructure, is what makes it so appealing.

 

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