Patuxay a.k.a. Gate of Triumph
The title is not an oxymoron at least for Filipino readers. It is roughly translated (Filipino to English) as "famous in infamous." This post is about the country Laos which is part of the Southeast Asia region. So... What's in Laos which made me and 3 of my friends go there?
It is a land-locked little country that relies on its unspoiled beauty and friendly people as its main draw. Life in that charming country is so simple and laid back as even the rush hour traffic which city dwellers like me would joke about is nothing for the Lao native. The country is bordered by Thailand to the west, Myanmar and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east and Cambodia to the south.
For many Bangkok is a shopper's paradise but in Laos souvenirs, t-shirts and woodworks are cheaper than in Thailand as the currency of Laos (the kip) is so much devalued at about US$1-9,900 kip as of January 2007. Almost all shops accept the Thai baht as legal tender. Credit cards can be used in major hotels in Vientiane, but are of little use elsewhere.
As like to every country in the world, travel common sense will guide you well in navigating Lao culture and way of life safely. When in Laos remember not to touch heads (it is considered the most sacred part of the human body), do not loose your cool with people and do not display your flesh. The rest is about manners, shoes left outside, accepting hosts' greetings and not upsetting religious feelings.
And by the way, it is good to bring sandals or slip ons to take off easily when entering temples as the city offers many temples worthy of a visit.
The Lao people are very friendly and hospitable and a minimum effort will make your trip smooth and memorable. Respect the culture and you will earn its respect in turn. Modest dress and discreet behavior will ensure you do not attract unwanted attention or embarrass others.
How to get to Vientiane, Laos from Manila:
- The most recommended by travel guides, economical and adventurous way to go to Vientiane (the capital of Laos) is through the Friendship Bridge which connects Laos and Thailand.
- We took a Cebu Pacific flight to Bangkok and connected via budget airline Nok Air to the city of Udon Thani, Thailand.
-From Udon Thani International Airport we took a van to the border town of Nong Khai, Thailand. From there, Vientiane is only a 30-minute bus ride.
-Direct flights from Bangkok to Vientiane's Wattay International Airport is also available.