I’ve had the good fortune to have traveled some pretty amazing places in my life. But this trip to Southeast Asia – from northern Thailand to Laos and Cambodia – was the best yet. For so many reasons: elephant sanctuaries, slow boat cruises on the Mekong, cities of golden-tipped temples, Lao coffee, motorbike trips into brocade jungles, hidden waterfalls and bayou river islands and ancient temple ruins, learning the other side of a history I thought I knew, pepper farms and crab markets, museums of murder, an abandoned mountaintop fortress camouflaged in perpetual clouds, and post-apocalyptic ruins in a seaside town that had once been slated for bigger things. Here’s an overview of the best things I did in Southeast Asia.
Traveling to Laos is half the fun. The southeast Asian country was virtually closed off to tourism until the late 90s, and is just opening to the world. What I had read about Laos said that things there move at a different pace: everything slows waaay down. So, we would too. We traveled to Laos from Thailand by plane, bus, taxi, foot, and finally, a 2-day slow boat cruise on the Mekong River to reach Luang Prabang, Laos.