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Tipping: one place that gets it right

I view tipping with a sense of distaste and see it as a sad legacy of a class system that should have died out decades ago. In a nutshell I don’t see why service staff aren’t paid a decent salary so they don’t have to beg to customers in order to make up for their […]

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The smiling faces of Laos

Among my hundreds of photos from a trip I seem to have relatively few of people. I still can’t get over that discomfort of asking someone for a photo, even when they seem happy about it, and often stand back when others are clicking away. As a result there are a number of people we […]

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Why you should never leave home without an inflatable globe

For many visitors to a country their interactions with local people form the highlight of their stay, and create their most vivid memories. And of these encounters the ones with children inevitably tug at the heart strings and foster feelings of joy and, too often, sadness and helplessness. It was no different for us in […]

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The best hike ever? 100 waterfalls trek, Nong Khiaw, Laos

In a recent Lonely Planet article, Tony Wheeler described his visit to northern Laos to hike the 100 waterfalls trek. It had only been discovered (for non-locals of course) in 2008, and a local ecotourism company Tiger Trails was taking small groups of visitors to the falls. We love hiking, we love waterfalls: we just […]

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River cruising in southern Laos: Vat Phou temple and the 4,000 islands

While the tourist paths of northern Laos are becoming increasingly well trodden, the number of visitors to the south of the country are still relatively small. Those who do make the trip to the areas close to the Cambodian border, dominated by the Mekong and the life that is centred around it, are well rewarded […]

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Daylight robbery at Laos/Cambodian border: not worth the fighting

I have crossed several borders overland in recent years, and even now there is a strange sense of excitement and apprehension as I approach the border guards. They have it in their power to make life very difficult for someone, and it is always my hope that that someone will not be me that day. […]

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Vientiane, Laos: A capital city that forgot to behave like one

I heard much about Vientiane being a very laid back capital where there is little to do for the visitor. After spending over a week in Laos it was hard to imagine anything other than a chilled city as the centre of this smiling, easy-going nation. Happily, Vientiane lived up to its billing, with one […]

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America’s Secret War, and the Plain of Jars

In the West we are familiar with the Vietnam War, where millions of American soldiers went to fight the communist forces of the north during the 1960s and early 1970s. Few are aware however that the bulk of the carnage inflicted by both sides in that war in fact fell on Laos, desperately unfortunate in […]

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Luang Prabang: worthy of the hype?

If you visit Laos you will almost certainly spend at least some of your time in Luang Prabang. While Vientiane is the adminstrative capital there is little doubt that Luang Prabang is the cultural, historic and tourism centre of Laos. If you travel here by boat as we did, approaching the city along the Mekong […]

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2 days of luxury on the Mekong: Luangsay boat to Luang Prabang

There are several ways to travel between the Thai-Lao border and the ancient city of Luang Prabang. The bus journey takes around 10 hours on roads that leave a lot to be desired. Most people choose to travel along the Mekong River as it meanders south through lush Lao countryside and passes simple villages that […]

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