Thứ Ba, 12 tháng 12, 2017

Sa Pa Winter Festival 2017 will take place from December 22nd to 31st to respond activities of Viet Nam National Tourism Year: Lao Cai - Northwestern Region.

Photo for illustration
The highlight of the event will be the snow discovery festival on the occasion of Christmas 2017 and New Year 2018 with diverse impressive activities such as love duet singing, ethnic musical instrument performances, traditional games and local specialties introduction.

Especially, there will be the Fire Dance festival of the Red Dao ethnic group, street festival with parade activities to showcase the beauty of unique ethnic costumes, lion and dragon dance on the central streets on December 31st.

According to the weather forecast, Sa Pa will be very cold this winter, so it is likely that ice and snow will appear in the mountainous areas like in Europe which attracts tourists a lot.

Thứ Ba, 5 tháng 12, 2017

With Myanmar opening to the outside world, visitors are discovering a cuisine that's been largely hidden from sight for the past 50 years.

With an emphasis on rich, predominately savory/salty flavors, influences from South and Southeast Asia and a repertoire of ingredients not found in any other cuisine, there's much to discover. As in most of Southeast Asia, Myanmar restaurants and stalls tend to specialize in a single dish or culinary style.

For a comprehensive taste of the cuisine, we've chosen these 10 Burmese dishes and snacks. Every visitor to the country should seek them out.

1. Tea leaf salad

Lephet thoke can be a meal, snack or appetizer.
Perhaps the most famed Burmese food is lephet -- fermented tea leaves.

The tart leaves are eaten on their own, typically as dessert, but they're also served in the form of lephet thoke, a salad of pickled tea leaves. To make the dish, the sour, slightly bitter leaves are mixed by hand with shredded cabbage, sliced tomatoes, crunchy deep-fried beans, nuts and peas, a splash of garlic oil and pungent slices of chili and garlic.

The dish is versatile. It can be a snack, an appetizer or, coupled with a plate of rice, a meal. It's also considered a stimulant: the Burmese says that eating too much lephet thoke can prevent sleep.

2. Shan-style rice

Nga htamin's essential components: turmeric rice and fish.
Known in Burmese as nga htamin (fish rice), this Shan (one of the country's main Buddhist ethnic groups) dish combines rice that's been cooked with turmeric and squashed into a disk with a topping of flakes of freshwater fish and garlic oil.

Oily and savory, when served with sides of leek roots, cloves of raw garlic and deep-fried pork rinds, nga htamin becomes a snack that runs the gamut from pungent to spicy.

3. Burmese curry

Delicious burmese curry.
​A visit to a traditional Burmese restaurant is more than just a meal, it's a culinary experience.

As the name suggests, curry is the central element, but after you've chosen one -- typically a meaty, somewhat oily curry based around pork, fish, shrimp, beef or mutton -- a seemingly never-ending succession of side dishes will follow.

These include rice, a tart salad, a small dish of fried vegetables, a small bowl of soup and a large tray of fresh and par-boiled vegetables and herbs to be eaten with various dips.

Dips range from ngapi ye, a watery, fishy sauce, to balachaung, a dry, spicy mixture of chillies, garlic and dried shrimp fried in oil. At a Muslim-run curry shop, the soup might be a combination of lentils and root vegetables, while the sides might include a few crispy pappadum.

By the time it all arrives, you'll be face to face with a spread of dishes that seems to include all the ingredients, textures and flavors of Myanmar.

After you've finished, you'll also get a traditional Burmese dessert -- a lacquer tray containing pickled tea leaves and nuts, or a jar of chunks of palm sugar.

4. Burmese tea shop meal

Sample Burma's great culinary options.
Myanmar's tea shops aren't just places to sip tiny cups of sweet, milky tea.

They also function as a crash-course on various cuisines of Myanmar -- dishes served often reflect the ethnicity of the shop's proprietor.

Tea shops run by ethnic Burmese are good places to dig into the world of traditional Burmese noodle or rice dishes such as htamin thoke, a type of rice salad.

Indian/Muslim-owned tea shops tend to serve South Asian-influenced, deep-fried savory snacks, such as samosas or poori (deep-fried bread served with a potato curry) or baked breads such nanbya (naan). The latter also often serve South Asian-style desserts.

Chinese-owned tea shops often feature baked sweets as well as meaty steamed buns and dim sum-like items.

5. Burmese sweet snacks

A delicious Burmese pancake.
Unlike sweet dishes in the West, Burmese sweets, known collectively as "moun," aren't consumed as dessert but rather as snacks, typically taken with tea in the morning or afternoon.

And unlike sweets elsewhere in Southeast Asia, moun aren't generally packed with sugar, instead getting their sweet flavors from ingredients such as grated coconut, coconut milk, rice flour, cooked sticky rice, tapioca and fruit.

Standout Burmese sweets include hsa nwin ma kin, small cakes of crumbly semolina flour with coconut milk, ghee and raisins; and bein moun and moun pyit thalet, Burmese-style pancakes, served sweet or savory, with a damp, hole-y consistency not unlike an English crumpet.

6. Deep-fried stuff

A deep-fried spring roll.
The Burmese have an obsession with deep-frying foods in oil -- in Myanmar, it's practically impossible to avoid fried foods.

The majority of snacks found on the street or in tea shops -- samosas, spring rolls, savory fritters, sweets, breads -- are deep-fried, and many noodle dishes are topped with akyaw, deep-fried crispy garnishes.

One deep-fried dish particularly worth seeking out is buthi kyaw, battered and deep-fried chunks of gourd.

When served hot, the thin, crisp batter conceals a soft, slightly watery interior of tender gourd, and the fritters are typically served with a sour/sweet dip made from tamarind that can be made savory with the addition of bean powder.

7. Shan-style 'tofu' noodles

Hto hpu nwe (warm tofu) isn't actually made of tofu.
One of the most unusual dishes in Myanmar is hto-hpu nwe, literally "warm tofu."

Associated with the ethnic Shan of northern Myanmar, the dish doesn't actually include tofu, but rather a thick porridge made from chickpea flour.

The sticky yellow stuff is served over thin rice noodles, chunks of marinated chicken or pork. It's topped with a drizzle of chili oil and includes sides of pickled veggies and broth. It's an odd and visually arresting combination, but, if you're a fan of savory flavors, one that will grow on you.

8. Nangyi thoke

​The Burmese love "dry" noodle dishes -- essentially noodle-based "salads" with broth served on the side -- and perhaps the tastiest and most ubiquitous is nangyi thoke.

The dish takes the form of thick, round rice noodles with chicken, thin slices of fish cake, par-boiled bean sprouts and slices of hard-boiled egg.

The ingredients are seasoned with a mixture of roasted chickpea flour and turmeric and chili oil, tossed by hand and served with sides of pickled greens and a bowl of broth.

9. Mohinga

Rice noodles served in a hearty, herbal fish-and shallot-based broth, mohinga is often called Myanmar's national dish.

Myanmar's unofficial national dish is mohinga -- fine, round rice noodles served in a hearty, herbal fish-and shallot-based broth, often supplemented with the crunchy pith of the banana tree.
It's beloved as a breakfast dish, but, sold by mobile vendors, it's a common snack at any time of day or night.

Optional toppings include a sliced hard-boiled egg and akyaw, deep-fried crispy veggies and/or disks of lentil batter. The dish is seasoned to taste with a squeeze of lime and/or flakes of dried chili.

10. Shan-style noodles

Myanmar's Shan State is famous for noodles.
​The dish most commonly associated with Shan State is this combination of thin, flat rice noodles in a clear, peppery broth with marinated chicken or pork, garnished with toasted sesame and a drizzle of garlic oil. It's served with a side of pickled vegetables.

Compared with most Burmese noodle dishes, it's relatively simple, verging on bland, but is reassuringly comforting and consistently delicious.

A "dry" version, with the broth served on the side, is also common.

Thứ Hai, 4 tháng 12, 2017

Tet Nguyen Dan, or Tet for short, is considered the biggest and most popular festival of the year in Vietnam. Celebrated on the first day of the first month in Lunar Calendar, Tet’s celebration is the longest holiday which may last up to seven days.

Tet is calculated?

Different from the Gregorian calendar, Lunar Calendar has a fix number of twelve months with 30 days each, and a leap-year will have a whole intercalary month instead of the 29th day of February. The new year of Lunar Calendar normally will start in late January or beginning of February according to Gregorian calendar. That explains why Tet days vary from year to year: it is because the leap month may fall shorter or longer which create a smaller or bigger gap between the two calendars.

What is Tet?

Tet is the occasion for Vietnamese to express their respect and remembrance for their ancestors as well as welcoming the New Year with their beloved family members. Moreover, in the past, Tet was essential as it provided one of few long breaks during the agricultural year, which was held between the harvesting of the crops and the sowing of the next ones. To make it easier, one can imagine Tet as a combination of Christmas and New Year: every family will get together to have big meals, decorate Tet trees and eat Tet food but to welcome the new year instead of a religious cause.

How is Tet celebrated?

Since Tet occupies an important role in Vietnamese’s religious beliefs, Vietnamese will begin their preparations well in advance of the upcoming New Year. In an effort to get rid of the bad luck of the old year, people will spend a few days cleaning their homes, polishing every utensil, or even repaint and decorate the house with kumquat tree, branches of peach blossom, and many other colorful flowers. The ancestral altar is especially taken care of, with careful decoration of five kinds of fruits and votive papers, along with many religious rituals. Everybody, especially children, buy new clothes and shoes to wear on the first days of New Year. People also try to pay all their pending debts and resolve all the arguments among colleagues, friends or members of family.

Like other Asian countries, Vietnamese believe that the color of red and yellow will bring good fortune, which may explain why these colors can be seen everywhere in Lunar New Year. People consider what they do on the dawn of Tet will determine their fate for the whole year, hence people always smile and behave as nice as they can in the hope for a better year. Besides, gifts are exchanged between family members and friends and relatives, while children receive lucky money kept in red envelope.

No matter where Tet is celebrated, it must be clarified from the beginning that Tet is not a day, but several days of celebration.

The general process is as follow (all dates quoted in lunar calendar):

1. Ông Công, Ông Táo Day (Kitchen God day) – December 23rd

2. Wrapping Chung cake – December 26-28th

3. Family reunion and Tất niên – December 30th

4. Giao thừa – New Year’s Eve: including praying sessions to God and Ancestors, Xông đất (First visit to a family in the new year)

5. First three days of the new year: visit paternal side on the first day, maternal side on the second day and teachers on the third day

6. Visit relatives, friends and neighbours: can take place from January 3rd – 5th

7. Hóa vàng – burn the offerings near Tet’s end for ancestors: January 4th

8. Reopen business: usually owners pick a good date that matches their age

9. Tết Nguyên Tiêu: January 15th

Food for Tet

The following food is often consumed during Tet; some are particular to Tet and often associated with the grand celebration:

– Banh Chung/ Banh Tet

– Pickled onions

– Boiled chicken

– Mung bean pudding

– Vietnamese sausage – giò chả

– Xôi Gấc – Red Sticky Rice

– Roasted nuts and seeds

Travelling to Vietnam during Tet

Tet has a very special attached meaning to all Vietnamese. It is the time for everybody to come back to their hometown, gathering with family, visiting relatives and having a good relaxing time after a hard-working year. If you have the opportunity to visit Vietnam during Tet holiday, make sure you join this festive and happy moments of Vietnamese!

Thứ Sáu, 1 tháng 12, 2017

It's easy to make a faux pas in Southeast Asia. Traveling to Thailand? Read our etiquette tips. It's useful for you ...

1. Don't drop or stand on currency

Ft are considered to be the lowest and least clean part of the body, so avoid directing your feet at anyone: don't cross your hip and legs, sit cross-legged or put your feet up. That is also rude to drop or stand on currency, as it could be considered disrespectful towards the royal family (Thailand's reigning monarch is published on the Thai Baht).

2. Never touch anyone's head

Someone's head is considered almost holy in Thailand, so even giving someone a wally on the head or touching their head of hair could be frowned upon. Should you be volunteering or working with young children, be especially wary - really second nature for many westerners to ruffle youngsters' hair. Thai masseurs may ask permission to rub your face first, so carry in mind that they may be asking as an indication of respect.

The wai is the traditional form of Thai greeting (Shutterstock)

3. Always return a 'wai'

The wai is a common and polite greetings which involves bowing your head and keeping the hands in a praying motion. Everyone you meet will greet you in this way, so always come back the gesture and giggle as you do so. If you are welcome a monk then you must bend from the waist with your brain bowed and your hands together.

4. Respect the monks

Many temples carry sessions where you can meet and talk to monks, to learn about Buddhism and help them improve their English. No longer be over-familiar or ask personal questions when first meeting them. If you are female, don't touch them or even clean past them: it is strictly forbidden for monks to have any physical connection with a woman.

In the event that you need to complete something to a monk, said down in entrance of them rather than handing it over immediately. They will sometimes be nervous when speaking to tourists, so have patience. A lot of monks are in training and will be young boys, but you should still reserve the same high level of value for them.

A monk teaches young novice monks, Thailand (Shutterstock)

5. Cover up in temples

It is pretty likely that you will stumble after an incredibly beautiful temple while wandering around the roads, but be sure you are respectful and cover your shoulders and chest before entering. Often keep a shawl or some long-sleeved clothing in your bag as you could be refused entry or cause offense it you not necessarily properly covered.

6. Don't point or beckon

Both equally is visible as rude or even sexually suggestive. In the event that you do want to motion to anyone to join you, put your odds out with your palm facing downwards and wave your fingers towards yourself. Also, tilt your head upwards to point with your chin to avoid triggering offence. This kind of also applies to directed at objects or properties, but especially avoid aiming at temples. If you forget, simply wai as an apology.

7. Be prepared to pay more than the locals

Several galleries, museums and wats or temples charge different prices for Thai nationals and travelers, and both prices not necessarily always listed on the website or in guidebooks. It is sometimes possible to avoid this higher tourist payment if anyone asks in advance, publication with a huge group or go at off-peak times. Don't be surprised if they flatly refuse you, but it is always worth asking.

Thứ Năm, 30 tháng 11, 2017

Hanoi owns the busy street food scenarios with many delicious choices, beautiful landscapes, and reasonable prices. The capital of Vietnam is where to find an uncountable number of good dishes to try and delight the palate. While some food is highly notable such as Phở Bò (rice noodle with beef), Bún Riêu (rice vermicelli with minced freshwater crabs), Bún Ốc (noodle with snails), etc., the others remain less popular yet inviting to some new visitors. 

1: Phở Xào Bò (rice noodle stir-fried with beef)

Pho xao bo – rice noodle stir-fried with beef
In compared with “Phở Bò” (rice noodle soup with beef), the stir-fried version brings the enchanting smell at first. The ingredients of beef, vegetables, onions, egg, and noodles create the delectable set for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well. Just sit on the 6-inch stool, and order your first plate of the rice noodle stir-fried with beef and vegetable. The harmoniously flavorful and eye-catching dish can surprise some foodies effectively. While some patrons appreciate the glutinous texture, the others admire the balanced chili sauce. Though not many people know this fried version, it’s yummy indeed.

2: Bánh Tôm (Fried shrimp cake)

Banh tom – Fried shrimp cake
Believe it or not, the fried shrimp cake can make you fall in love with Hanoi at the first bite. In fact, many foodies in Hanoi are fans of both “Pillow Cake” and “Fried Shrimp Cake.” This cake includes the shrimp filling covered by the rice flour, and then it’s deep-fried for the crispy taste. It’s a principle to eat this crunchy cake with sweet-sour fish sauce, some slices of papaya and carrot. The food stall of this cake is often packed with patrons who come for the hot and crunchy pieces, and some must say “it’s sold like a hot shrimp cake”, especially in Ho Tay Restaurant in Hanoi.

3: Nem Cua Bể (Vietnamese fried crab spring rolls)

Nem cua be – Vietnamese fried crab spring rolls
The crab ingredient is very nutrient and delicious, particularly for spring rolls in Hanoi styles. “Nem Cua Bể” is one of the most outstanding highlights in Hanoi Cuisine. The dish enchants the foodies via crunchy rice paper, generous fillings of minced crab, pork, egg, carrot, bean sprout, mushroom, vermicelli, and various seasonings. As a custom, make sure you enjoy this dish with the well-spiced fish sauce, fresh vegetables and rice noodles. Be crispy and tasty, the yellow fried spring rolls in the square shape might even make you mouth-watering. The crab rolls are best to eat when being hot.

4: Bánh Gối (Vietnamese empanada dumpling)

Banh goi – Vietnamese empanada dumpling
Hanoi owns the unique “Bánh Gối” that nowhere can compare. The cake is in the shape of a miniature pillow and includes the fillings of minced pork, taro vermicelli, mushrooms, quail eggs, etc. Once made, it delivers the crispy cover to cheer up every customer. The fragrant, crunchy, and delectable little cakes can be consumed as the favorite snacks by both locals and guests. The yellow, little cakes are often served with fresh vegetables, and fish sauce. In fact, this deep-fried “pillow cake” is the indispensable item for the Hanoian students.  The success of the dish lies in the succulent sweet-sour dipping sauce, including fish sauce, chili, sugar, lime juice, and garlic. Besides dipping the cake into the sweet-sour sauce, you can also wrap the cake with fresh lettuce and eat the whole.

5: Hanoi Hot Egg Coffee

Ca phe trung – Hanoi Hot Egg Coffee
The hot egg coffee is a unique and famous item in Hanoi, but not many people know how good its taste is. It makes the culinary experience different in this charming city. The drink is derived from a Vietnamese Cappuccino, and the key lies in the yolk cream. Enjoying a cup of hot egg coffee in the street food stalls delivers the authentic local lifestyle that you should not miss during Hanoi Food Tours. So, to drink like the locals, get started with the hot egg coffee!

Hanoi Culinary Experience Enchants International Foodies

Without a single doubt, Hanoi is a haven for foodies all over the world. The charming city owns numerous delicious dishes for Vietnam Food Discovery, and you might wish if only you had had a bit more time to explore all of the local delicacies. With the list of the must-try food in the city, you have the better chances for the true local culinary experience than ever. From now on, enrich your list of food in Hanoi, and eat as many items as possible when you actually set foot in the capital of Vietnam. The good preparation usually brings success. Since Hanoi is rich in street food, the walking trip promises to be full of exciting moments as you can pinpoint various good items at each step you go.

Hanoi Cuisine has been drawing many foodies to the city on daily basics. Experience the local food, eating etiquette, long-lasting charm, and friendly people is what the international foodie communities choose to do, happily. In this city, the street is the stage where lots of appetizing dishes are present and ready to serve even any time of the day. Go on Hanoi Culinary Packages, you will receive tons of joy and satisfaction to treat yourself for the everlasting memories. Pack your stuff and stop by the favorite eateries during your Hanoi Street Food Tour by walking if any. Also, some packages include the cooking sessions which give you the hands-on experiences in cooking some certain Vietnamese traditional food, plus the recipe for home practices. Various interesting things await you in Hanoi.

Thứ Tư, 29 tháng 11, 2017

In 2011, after 15 years of a tourism boycott to avoid aiding the oppressive military junta, Myanmar opened its doors to visitors. The country, now with a democratically elected government, is improving its tourism infrastructure but still struggles to cope with the huge influx of visitors.

If you’re thinking of backpacking Myanmar, these tips will help you maximise your stay in this culturally rich nation with some of the most hospitable people you’re ever likely to encounter.

1. Book ahead

Although new hotels are popping up at an increasing rate, there is still a shortage of accommodation in the most popular destinations in Myanmar.

Standards are generally lower and prices higher than in other Southeast Asian countries, so be prepared so spend a little extra and do some research to find recommended places.

Dorms are sometimes available, and range from about $10–20. Low-key guesthouse rooms go for $15–30 (though the lower end is usually fairly shabby), while mid-range hotel rooms go for anything from $50–100.

Especially in high season (October to March), it’s a good idea to book well in advance to get the best options, and bring the reservation paperwork with you. You’ll lose some of the spontaneity of backpacking, but it’s worth it to get a comfortable night’s sleep.

2. Earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones are essential

Trains in Myanmar are very slow. Buses are faster and cheaper, but bear in mind that music videos, romantic films or drama-fuelled soap operas will be blared out at maximum volume from the on-board TV. While the other passengers may find it tremendously entertaining, you might feel differently; invest in some noise-cancelling headphones or proper wax earplugs to keep your sanity.

3. Travel by boat

If you choose to take a domestic flight, note that it’s cheaper to book through agencies once you’re in Myanmar than from outside the country. Buses may be the fastest mode of transport after flying, but they are also bumpy, noisy and often uncomfortable.

Boat routes conveniently connect some major destinations and allow tourists to travel in peace and see a slice of rural life on the riverbanks. Popular routes include Mandalay to Bagan, Yangon to Ngwe Saung and Dawei to Kawthaung/Ranong.

4. Be aware of no-go zones

Conflicts between different armed ethnic groups in northern Shan, Kachin and Rakhine states means that parts of those regions are out of bounds for tourists. There have been armed clashes in the areas bordering Thailand, Laos and China, so take extra care in those areas.

5. Bring cash

ATMs are appearing in more cities and touristy areas, but you shouldn’t rely on being able to withdraw cash wherever you go (plus there’s a $5 fee on top of whatever your bank charges you), so bring plenty of US dollars. You can easily change dollars to kyat once you arrive.

Food, drink and transport are paid for in kyat, while either currency can be used for more expensive services such as hotel rooms, treks and tours.

More upmarket hotels typically have credit card machines, and banknotes have to be in absolutely pristine condition – dollar bills with marks, folds or tears won’t be accepted.

6. BBQ it

You may find that Burmese food doesn’t quite match up to that of its neighbours: it can lack the freshness and inventiveness of Thai cuisine, and the depth and variety of flavour of Indian curries.

That’s not to say finding a decent meal is impossible, but – much like accommodation – you should do your research to find the tastiest places to eat.

A dependable, easy and popular option is to go to food stalls serving an array of different meat, fish and seafood, which you select, drop into a basket and hand over to be grilled right in front of you. Yangon’s 19th Street and the night market in Nyaungshwe, by Inle Lake, both have plenty of fresh, appetizing choices.

7. Don’t rely on wifi

Wifi in Myanmar is very limited. Even in upmarket hotels, connections are often patchy and very slow. Since 2014, however, SIM cards have become much more affordable, and buying one means you can use 3G relatively cheaply.

However, don’t expect to find 3G coverage everywhere. Taking a guidebook with you is essential to make sure you’re never without accommodation and eating options, and you can find your way around without the internet.

8. Burma or Myanmar? Know your names

The military junta renamed the country Myanmar in 1989, on the basis that Burma was a colonial name. Some countries still officially call it Burma, and even the co-ruling party, the National League for Democracy, prefer Burma. However, on a day-to-day basis you’ll find most local people call it Myanmar. While visiting, you can use both interchangeably.

9. Think before you speak

The first democratically elected government came into power in early 2016, after decades of military rule. However, the military still hold around a third of the seats in government, and the country still has a long way to go before people can freely express their views without fear of retribution. Discussing politics with Burmese citizens remains a delicate issue and people still fear it will get them into trouble.

On the other hand, engaging people in conversations about their lives in general and how the country is rapidly changing – without directly asking about politics – is a great way to get a better understanding of modern life and culture in Myanmar.

The Burmese people are exceptionally welcoming, warm and friendly; don’t miss the opportunity to get to know your hosts while you’re there.

Source: roughguides

Thứ Hai, 27 tháng 11, 2017

Having never enjoyed the same distinction as a travel destination as some of its more frequent neighbours like Thailand and Vietnam, Laos offers many treasures for the traveler seeking to get away from the bustle found elsewhere.

From the laid-back capital of Vientiane, the rich monastic tradition of Luang Prabang, the mysterious Plain of Jars and the backpacker haven of Vang Vieng, Laos benevolent beauty is a medicine that should be tasted. 

Here are a collection of pointers from those who've been to help ensure you have a safe and enjoyable time while in Laos.

1. Stay on the Beaten Track

Many people worry about landmines, but if you stick to heavily touristed areas, they have been cleared. Exercise more caution should you decide to do more independent ventures. As usual for developing countries, leave expensive jewelry, purses, etc., at home. While it seems and sounds remote, Laos is a quick flight from Bangkok, where one can receive world class medical care.

2. Boiled and Well-done

All water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated. Water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should have first been boiled or otherwise sterilised. Milk is unpasteurised and should be boiled. Powdered or tinned milk is available and is advised. Avoid dairy products that are likely to have been made from unboiled milk. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.

3. Needles Needed

Hepatitis E occurs and hepatitis B is highly endemic and dengue fever, tuberculosis and Japanese encephalitis are known to occur so be sure you are up to date on your vaccines before you travel.

4. Cash is Still King

Have a few spare notes of US Dollars or Thai Baht just in case, but the local currency the Kip is now widely acceptd and trusted. Laos has ATM machines, but they can be sparsely located in Huay Xai, Luang Prabang, Vientianne and Vang Vieng. Credit cards can be used in higher end tourist shops, hotels and restaurants, but keep cash with you. With the exchange rate it's easy to be a Kip millionaire, try to not let all those zeroes confuse you. If you're changing currency at the kiosks in major cities, make sure to count all the notes to make sure you haven't been short-changed.

5. Mindful Motorcycling

Motorcycle travel in Laos is not without risks but the rewards of truly independent travel are great. There are several rental shops in Vientiane only and bike rentals in other parts of the country are few. Quality of machines varies from shop to shop so you need to fully inspect your new friend before you head out on the road. There are many good roads and many paved ones and touring Laos is done easily. Most bikes in Laos are Honda Baja or XR 250 dual purpose bikes and anything else is usually mechanically questionable. Helmets are not only mandatory in the country but a valuable item in a place where traffic rules are made up by the minute. Police have been cracking down on people who do no have a motorcycle license, so expect to pay a fine if caught without one.

Source: worldnomads


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