10 facts I know about Laos now

So I’ve learned a bit about Laos since I’ve been trekking through its massive cities…

  1. The capital is super small and relaxed, especially coming from Bangkok. Lots of travelers on visa runs from Thailand hang out by the river.
  2. The fun and beautiful and remote places to visit are in the north. Luang Prabang is a city in the middle of the country that’s nice too.
  3. The country is technically Communist, but a local said, “We relaxed about it” (sic).
  4. The language is in fact called Lao, and it’s pretty similar to Thai, like enough that they understand in Laos some of what they learned in Thailand.
  5. The currency is kip. Right now, $1 will buy about 8,000 kip. In other words, the cool looking, 500 kip bills aren’t really worth anything.
  6. Their flag looks like a cross between the American flag (the colors), the Thai flag (the strips), and the Japanese flag (the circle).
  7. Beerlao might be one of the only Lao products that’s somewhat internationally known. It’s really good but, in the country anyway, ridiculously cheap.
  8. It used to be a French colony.
  9. The western border is marked by the mighty Mekong River, which is a great if long way to travel up and down the country.
  10. In English, it’s pronounced like the bug, even if half the foreigners who visit don’t pronounce it that way.

Oh, and now I know at least one friend in Laos too.

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