Driving from Chengdu to Kunming, then to Mengla and border with Laos took us 3 days dueto traffic and specific tunnels road in Yunnan. However, we enjoyed thebreathtaking scenery with lots of mountains and snow. Before driving in thisdirection check carefully which road it is better to take, as different roadshave different prices, and the fees are so different.
Going to the South of China, you think that the weather must be warmer. But, when you meet a snowfall and see that outside temperature is -6, unavoidably start thinking that you missed the right road. That is the lesson: no matter where you go, prepare warm clothes.
In any city in China you can find many small local hotels where you can stay. However, ifyou travel with foreign friends, it is not easy to get a room, as not every hotel has a right to register foreigners (especially in Kunming). So make suret o book the right hotel in advance.
Finally, we were going to the border with Laos. Crossing the border is not easy, as you must buy insurance, tourist certificate for car, Laos’s driving license, fill in declaration etc. You also can exchange money (only RMB and Laos Kip) and buy sim cards from the people on the street. Just check the exchange rate and ask carefully how to activate the sim-cards.
Laos’s roads are not easy to drive; because of mountains, there are so many circlesand turns, and max speed that you can drive is 40 km/h. Not going to complainabout roads in China anymore! 300 km to Luang Prabang took us around 7 h; Safety First! The road is very dangerous; we witnessed some accidents of carsthat were going too fast.
On the way we passed by poor villages. People are trying to earn some money by selling nutsand bamboo.
The weatherwas not warm; however, many kids did not have pants and warm shoes to wear. Westopped our car and many curious kids right away came to meet us. We gave someclothes, presents and candies to them. They looked so happy to get something interesting and useful. Their moms were especially happy to receive someclothes.The weather was not warm; however, many kids did not have pants and warm shoes to wear. Westopped our car and many curious kids right away came to meet us. We gave someclothes, presents and candies to them. They looked so happy to get somethinginteresting and useful. Their moms were especially happy to receive someclothes.
Big thanks to Anna and 如风 for giving presents for kids, AiSN and that kids will neverforget this.
Education is very important no matter if you are poor or rich. Children must be taught that sharing and caring about each other is the way to improve life. In some villages where we stopped kids were so hungry to our presents, they tried tosteal it from us and even were fighting with each other for candies.
LuangPrabang is a nice and small touristic city; you can see travelers from many countries everywhere. There are a few touristic spots such us KuangSiwaterfalls, Royal palace and various Buddhist temples. Local life style is veryrelaxed; people never hurry up. When you order food in the restaurant, you mustwait for at least 50 min.
AiSN also joined Laos’s tradition of feeding monks “Alms giving”, which became one ofthe main tourist attraction nowadays
As there are so many tourists every day,local people do not join it anymore. So all the places of the road are fortourists. To join this you must buy food from local people who prepared it just for this ALMS giving.
For example, Masha has never thought before that she would teach Chinese to somenice monk.
After visiting all the best attractions of Luang Prabang, our trip rangers continue their journey to another place – Vang Vieng, famous for its’ blue lagoons,caves and kayaking. However, the only attraction we found was a huge amount ofKorean tourists. Every store and restaurant were at least in 2 languages: Laosvand Korean.
After another 3 hours, drive we entered a kind of different country, how it seemed tous from the first sight. After driving through poor villages, we entered a cityfull of new cars, big private houses and fancy looking schools. At least someone in this country lives good!
After checking in, we went to see Patoxay – The main attractions of vientiane.The place is very pretty; you start feeling as you are visiting Paris. However, we discovered that the archwas built as a present from China.
Manyschools, universities, roads etc. have signs that shows which country gave itto Laos. China even started building a railway through the country. The first(and currently only one) public bus was a present from Japan.
But, If you drive your own car to Laos, be ready to have a date with local police. They will stop you only because of foreign car number (especially if it is Chinesenumber) and try to find any even small reason to get money from you. We prepared all the documents when we crossed the border, so local police officerscould not find any reason to give us a fine. Then they tried to convince us that we did not fasten seatbelts, but did not succeed and we left without paying anything.
Moreover,not only transportation is expensive, food, hotels, products in the supermarketare more expensive than in China. When you travel to South-East Asia, you expect everything to be cheap; however, if you go to Laos, prepare to pay 1,5-2times more than in China.
Initially our plan was after Laos to go to Cambodia, but during walking around Vientiane,we saw how local people tried to celebrate Chinese Spring Festival and decide to come back to China to spend New Year with family.
AiSN TripRangers wish you Happy New Year. Let’s have more interesting travelling adventures and international experiences together in 2018. Our driving trip to Laos finished, and we hope that everyone will get a chance to visit this country to see its amazing mountain sceneries, experience Buddhist culture, and try local barbecue and coffee.