Thailand & Laos Top 9 Experiences

Here are my personal top experiences from my two previous trips to Thailand and Laos, now obviously travel is a personal experience so I don’t expect everyone to share my views as to the best sights and activities but for me these are the truly memorable experiences which really stood out for me.

Why not leave a comment as to whether you agree or disagree and add your own favorite experiences from these two incredible countries.

9. Cruising down the Mekong 

  This incredible journey from Luang Prabang to the border at Huay Xai features due to the fantastic scenery we passed along the way, meandering between the limestone karsts and rolling hills on either side was a great way to slow down for a few days and recover from one of our treks and to just watch the beautiful countryside roll by,it also offered an opportunity to dig out the playing cards for a game or two of whist, at which I was unfortunately not much good!
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8. Meal with the local village after trekking

Now this second experience makes the list for three reasons, firstly we had been trekking through the baking jungle for three days, sleeping in hammocks and eating simple meals, so coming back to the village ravenous and tired to have a veritable feast of local cuisine laid on for us was a truly great sight. Secondly the experience of dining with the local villagers was a great insight into local culture and life, eating sticky rice from the hand made baskets and tucking into some delicious dishes was a great way to end our trek. Finally the meal remains so memorable due to the comic value added by a number of extremely hot chilies, encouraged by the locals who wolfed them down like rice we took it in turns to blow our heads of with a bite of these monsters, much water drinking and crying soon ensued as this ill advised challenge left our noses streaming and our taste buds all but obliterated for a few days!  
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7. Visiting the War Cemeteries at Kanchuanaburi

One of the most thought provoking experiences I’ve had in south East Asia was a visit to Kanchunaburi in Thailand, home to a number of war memorials commemorating those who laid down their lives in the region during the second world war. The infamous Burmese railway or Death railway runs through Kanchunaburi and many of the graves are of Allied soldiers killed while working on the railways under the Japanese. Thousands of British, Australian, Dutch, American, Canadian, and Thai soldiers are honoured at various memorials around the town. The sheer number of graves is perhaps the most striking thing, row upon row of plaques lay in pristine gardens, a visit I would highly recommend for anybody who wants to learn a little of the history of the area or just to
pay their respects.

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6. Trekking

Some of the most rewarding and challenging experiences i’ve undertaken in Asia have been the two treks I took part in with the World Challenge group this summer. With one in Laos and one in Thailand they provided not only a great physical challenge but also an insight into a range of landscapes, the fantastic views across the jungle were a great reward for the hours of steep hills! They also provided a chance to visit the hill tribes of northern Thailand and stay in small villages in the depth of the Jungle.
A number of river crossings added some drama to or trek and staying in hammocks was a great way to get up close and personal with he wildlife!
A great challenge for anyone who wants to see the more unexplored side of the area or just anyone who thinks their legs can handle the hills!
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5. Sleeper train

Perhaps the most unexpected addition to the list is the journey by sleeper train through Northern Thailand from Bangkok, contrary to expectations the bunks were incredibly comfy and for the small cost provided great views out of the window as we rattled through the countryside, our return journey was made more interesting by the discovery of a group of backpackers from our home town (small world!) and a couple of crazy backpackers celebrating a birthday with copious amounts of Lao whisky! I would definitely recommend this as the best way to travel in Thailand – vastly cheaper than flying and infinitely more comfortable ( and probablyy safer given the driving!) than taking a bus.

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4. White water rafting

This was the most exciting part of my last trip to Asia, it was also the closest I believe iv’e even been to death!
We went rafting after our trek near Luang Prabang and after a short safety talk we drove up river and jumped into our rafts. What ensued can only be described as 6 people trying to survive a constant stream of rapids, sometimes in a raft and sometimes swimming alongside. Some truly comical ( truly scary at the time!) exits from the boat made the trip particularly memorable! Luckily everyone survived unharmed, except being scared senseless, soaked through and having sand where sand should’nt be! Another experience I would recommend to anyone wanting  a bit of an adventure, those after a more peaceful trip should look elsewhere though!

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3. Volunteering

Regardless of the merits or morals of volunteering in a developing country I found this to be one of the most memorable and in fact enjoyable weeks I spent in Asia, I’ve written a full post about my time volunteering but needless to say it was incredible living and working with the local community and the kids well they were jut adorable, if slightly hyperactive!
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2. Tubing Vang Vieng

I have to say it was very close between this and my number one experience! Vang Vieng is truly a backpackers paradise, perhaps not to everyone taste (those searching for temples and culture may wish to miss it out) It is an undeniably fun place to spend time, be it tubing along the breathtaking river, frequenting the numerous bars or heading to the hills for a spot of rockclimbing. A hotspot for backpackers it can at times feel more western than Asian but what it lacks in culture it more than makes up in its party scene and friendly backpacker atmosphere.
A must for anyone on the backpacking circuit !
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1. Songkran

My favorite experience in South East Asia so far is the new year festivities of songkran in Thailand. To describe it as a nationwide waterfight and festival would be no exaggeration! The whole country takes to the streets to bring in the Thai new year sprinkling each other with water for good luck, some with small water bowls and others with giant supersoakers and icy buckets launched from trucks carrying barrels of ice water!
A truly fantastic experience and one that has to be experienced first hand, a chance to see the local people at their happiest and most relaxed, just don’t expect to stay dry!
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Unfortunately due to the copious amount of water involved I couldn’t get any photos! You’ll have to look at these cute kids instead.

Please leave a comment if you’ve enjoyed this post or let me know any of YOUR favorite travel experiences!

Comments
4 Responses to “Thailand & Laos Top 9 Experiences”
  1. pie says:

    i love this ❤

  2. Sue says:

    Jack, this is great, really enjoyed reading your experiences and commentaries. Keep up the good work, we are signed up so will be following your every word!

  3. Dad says:

    Great Blog Jack and many happy (if wet) memories as I read!

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