Sabaidee

Laos doesn’t get as much attention as its neighbors. But many people who travel to Laos will fall in love with the country for its breathtaking nature, the chilled-out lifestyle, and the friendliness of the Lao people.

Laos has an interesting history. At one time the country, then known as Lan Xang was one of the largest kingdoms in Southeast Asia. Its territory included most of Isan, in present-day north-eastern Thailand. For a time, it was a French colony. And then during the Vietnam War, it became the most bombed country in the world.

Its fair to say the country has had its share of challenges, but the Laotians are tough, and they carry on.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the main locations in Laos that attract digital nomads and expats looking for a sojourn in one of the most relaxed countries in Southeast Asia.

Why Laos?

If you’re traveling on the Banana Pancake Trail, Laos will be on your itinerary already.

Or if you have been living in Asia for some time and you would like to go somewhere where you can change gears and slow down for a while, Laos is your place.

Time moves at a slower pace here, and it can be refreshing. Especially for the travel weary. Or if you have just come from a big city, Laos is the place to tune out and recharge your batteries while you’re at it.

The country is beautiful. The scenery is up there with anything any other country in Southeast Asia has to offer. It doesn’t have a beach but it does have the Mekong. And for anyone who has spent time along the Mekong, they will know that there is something special, something mystical about the river.

For a less romantic, but practical purpose, Laos is also a great staging post for doing border runs out of Thailand. Many travelers who are living in Thailand on tourist visas will venture up over the border to Vientiane to apply for a fresh tourist visa into Thailand.

Note that doing border runs on tourist visas isn’t a sustainable long-term plan for living in Thailand. But provided you haven’t outstayed your welcome in Thailand, taking a bus or a train up to Vientiane can be one of the easiest ways to renew a visa from outside the country.

Let’s take a look at where most digital nomads tend to congregate in Laos.

Vientiane

Vientiane is the capital and most populous city in Laos. But it’s not an Asian mega-city by any stretch. The city has a population of around 1 million people. It’s big enough to have the amenities you need to live and work. But perhaps more importantly, Vientiane is still small enough to feel like you are living in a relaxed and stress-free city.

Vientiane has plenty of restaurants, cafés, and nightlife options for when it’s time to knock the top off a Beerlao. It is the most cosmopolitan city in Laos but still has plenty of authentic Lao charm.

There are a couple of dedicated coworking spaces in town but this isn’t Chaing Mai in that respect. You may prefer to work from a coworker-friendly cafe for a couple of hours or from your hotel if that suits you better.

Vientiane, Laos
Vientiane, Laos

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is the ancient capital of Laos. Situated in the north, the town is a popular starting point in Laos for those who take the slow boat to Laos from Chiang Rai in Thailand. The central part of Luang Prabang is a UNESCO world heritage site.

The city has many well-preserved wat’s (temples) and there is also a lot of French colonial architecture remaining from when the country was administered by the French.

Luang Prabang is situated on the banks of the Mekong River. Several low-key, but pleasant restaurants overlook the river. It’s a great place to enjoy a cold beverage while you watch the sunset over the river and the surrounding jungle.

There is a reasonably sized backpacker contingent here, and digital nomads as well. It’s not the kind of place you go to access professional office facilities. But for those who are more flexible, or who prefer a more unconventional working environment, Luang Prabang won’t disappoint.

When you’re not working, visiting the Kuang Si waterfall, watching an almsgiving ceremony, or taking a sunset river cruise are popular ways to wind down.

Luang Prabang, Laos
Luang Prabang, Laos

Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng has a bit of a reputation and a slightly checkered past. After rapid growth in the backpacker tourism market during the mid to late 2000s, the town became known for being the wild west of backpacker party towns.

There were wild parties, excessive drinking, drugs, and of course the recreational activity of tubing. Tubing is when you float down the river in an inflated tractor tube while stopping off at riverside bars for a couple of drinks and some party time, before taking back to the tube to float down to the next bar.

In 2011 alone, there were 27 recorded tourist deaths in Vang Vieng. The small town got a lot of media attention all around the world from this. Since then, the local tourism trade has mostly cleaned up its act. Yes, you can still go tubing, but the place is certainly not as wild as it once was.

Don’t let any of this put you off visiting Vang Vieng.

The beauty of Vang Vieng with its unique landscape is something all travelers should see for themselves. You’ve got excellent hiking here, hot ballooning, or you can just kick back and enjoy some of the best nature in Southeast Asia.

Like much of Laos, there aren’t a lot of dedicated coworking spaces in town. But finding a coffee shop with free WIFI to work from won’t be a problem.

With the high-speed rail now running through town, Vang Vieng will likely grow into a more mature and established regional center as it develops.

Vang Vieng, Laos
Vang Vieng, Laos

Si Phan Don

Also known as the “4000 islands”, Si Phan Don situated in southern Laos is a riverine archipelago.

Like many parts of Laos, this is a place where you come to chill out and forget the outside world for a while.

The main island Don Det has enough restaurants, cafes, and watering holes to keep you out of trouble.

Expect to spend plenty of time attending to emails from the hammock while you are here.

When you do venture out of the hammock, there are plenty of things to do such as kayaking, chasing waterfalls, dolphin spotting or just renting a bicycle and riding around the island.

Si Phan Don Laos
Don Det, Laos

Next Steps

Laos is one of the most unique and underrated countries in Southeast Asia.

It is a place that you will wish you had visited sooner and will surely return to.

All you need to do is give Laos a chance, and she will seduce you.

We hope that this article has helped you decide where it is in Laos that you want to go. If you are still unsure and would like some help planning your trip to Laos, feel free to reach out to us.

Thanks for reading.