After being heavily bombed by the Americans during the Vietnam War in the 1970s, Laos was not particularly interested in opening its doors to foreign visitors. However since the turn of the century, it's been getting more and more popular with travelers, especially along the Mekong river.
One of the tuktuk drivers in Huay Xai took us to an ostrich farm where you can ride an ostrich. They even give you a rodeo hat to wear during the ride.
Cruising the Mekong River
The most popular route in Laos is along the Mekong river cruise. From Huay Xai to Luang Prabang, there's the 2 days slow boat, or the faster 1 day speedboat (which has a dubious safety record). I took the speedboat, it was cramped and did get precariously close to rocks on some occasions, but you can take "reassurances" in the life jackets and motorcyle helmets they give passengers to wear for safety. The scenery was fantastic, I just wish I had ear plugs because the engine was loud.
Luang Prabang is the former royal capital. It's a laid back city with countless Buddhist temples. You can relax by the Mekong river or swim in the water falls just outside of town.
The country's capital mixes French colonialism with Buddhist temples. The main sight is the golden Pha That Luang, which is Laos national symbol.
Vang Vieng is a small town north of Vientiane set against a backdrop of beautiful limestone mountains and vivid green paddy fields. It has long been a favourite of backpackers thanks to "tubing", a ride on an inflatable tube along the winding rivers through serene karst scenery, with numerous riverside bars along the way offering "happy" pizzas.