Why I will NEVER go back to Laos – the ugly truth

I’ve been debating a lot with myself whether or not I should write this article. I decided to do it. If feels like it’s my duty as a travel blogger to share with you not only the good parts of travel but the ugly parts too. As much as I love sharing incredible places with you, I also need to warn you about potential scams. So here it is.

I will start by saying that Laos is a beautiful country, well known for it’s jaw-dropping mountains, its beautiful waterfalls (especially Kuang Si Falls) and the Vang Vieng all time favorite – tubing.

Laos nature

Laos is full of beauty and breathtaking scenery but there is an ugly part to it too.

I love traveling and in my one year of full time travel around the world a lot has happened to me. I understand and I know that travel is not always easy or fancy. I’ve been through a lot of challenges during my trip, I’ve been scammed and I’ve hit rock bottom a few times.

We planned to spend one entire month in Laos but after what we’ve experienced, we’ve shortened our trip to only 10 days and that’s only because we didn’t manage to find plane tickets earlier.

Below are the reasons why I will never go back to Laos.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this article only reflects my experience. It doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will experience the same things. If you plan to visit Laos, do it with an open heart and create your own opinion about it!

1. I got scammed. Many times

I haven’t been scammed in one year as much as I’ve been scammed in Laos in 10 days. And it’s not the traditional scams, the ones everyone is used to. You might expect to be asked to pay double the price or to be tricked into paying for a more expensive bus but this is not what happened to me.

I know how to avoid these typical scams but Laos is at a completely different level. Let me tell you a few stories.

The Airport Taxi Scam

Laos taxi scam

After a tiring flight from Yangon, we finally landed in Vientiane. Our hotel was just 2 kilometers away from the airport. Giving the fact that we were tired, we decided to take a local taxi since our beloved Grab App is not available in Laos.

We headed to the official airport taxi counter where you’d expect to find fair prices. And when I say fair, I was expecting somewhere around $2-$3 for the 2 kilometer ride. Well, guess what? The prices were fixed and we were asked to pay $10!

I would rather walk 2 kilometers with my 17 kilograms backpack than pay $10! It’s outrageous and disrespectful! Even in New York the taxis are cheaper than the $5/ kilometer Vientiane fare.

We finally decided to take the bus which was around $2 per person. Yes, maybe a fixed price might not seem as a scam but I find it totally unreasonable to pay 10$ for 2 kilometers (my hotel was really close to the airport).

Bus scams all around the country

When I say “bus scams” you’d expect the typical things – being asked for more money or paying for a luxury bus while traveling with a standard one. Well, in Laos things are different.

Apart from the fact that most buses are always late, when getting close to your destination they will leave you in the middle of nowhere. Be prepared to be left in the middle of the road or 2 kilometers outside the city in a place with no taxis or tuk tuks. The bus drivers do this to determine you to pay a couple of dollars more to get to the actual bus station.

It’s a shame and it happened to me a couple of times. I refused to accept this scam. In Luang Prabang, the bus driver stopped somewhere on a narrow street, in between local houses, about 3 kilometers away from the actual bus station in heavy rain. He then asked for $2 each to take us to the bus station in the same bus. I walked. I was lucky I had an umbrella.

Another time, when arriving in Vang Vieng the bus driver stopped somewhere 2 kilometers away from the city, in the middle of nowhere. There were no taxis or tuk tuk drivers nearby and it was 11 pm. I walked again.

I refuse to give my money to people whose only obvious intention is to scam me even if this means that I have to walk through pouring rain. Unfortunately, bus scams in Laos are extremely common.

Motorbike Scams

Laos motorbike scam

Before arriving, I’ve read a lot on the internet about motorbike scams in Laos. I’ve read stories when people rented a motorbike and the owner had a spare key and “stole” it back. Of curse, the one who rented the motorbike had to pay for it.

I’ve read stories where people were asked to pay for scratches that were already there before renting the motorbike. I’ve read about people being blackmailed that they won’t receive their passport back unless they pay for “damages”.

Yes, it all happens in Laos and it’s not as uncommon as you might think. Knowing all that, we still decided to rent a motorbike for our half day trip to Kuang Si Falls. We were confident that “it can’t happen to us”. In the morning we went straight to the reception and asked for a motorbike ($15 per day) and when the guy came, he asked for our passports.

We offered to pay around $150 deposit (under no circumstance we were going to give him our passports) but he started laughing and asked for $2000. Of course we didn’t agree and we finally took a minivan to the waterfall.

Usually when traveling in SE Asia no one asks for a deposit. A passport photo is more than enough to rent a motorbike.

Tip: Don’t ever leave your passport when renting a motorbike. Not in Laos, not anywhere else. It’s just not safe and your passport might become a means of blackmail. Also, you never know what can happen. Maybe you need to exit the country for an emergency or return back home because something happened. You don’t want to depend on others to get your passport back.

Overcharging

In most of the stores in Laos the prices are not displayed. You enter, choose the things you want to buy and then go to the cashier and the seller will tell you the price you have to pay. I have been overcharged dozens of time. How do I know? Because there were times when locals were in front of me and they were asked to pay a totally different price for the same product.

It’s not even about the money in the end. I gladly paid more for tours and services in other countries because the experience was amazing and the guides didn’t try to rip me off. However, when I see that someone wants to intentionally overcharge me,  it somehow frustrates me.

2. The tuk tuk prices are outrageous

Laos tuk tuk scam

If you’ve been traveling around Southeast Asia before, you probably know that tuk tuks are usually the cheapest means of transport. Well, not in Laos.

Expect to be asked to pay $15 for a 15 minutes ride. Of course, you can try and negotiate but guess what? That won’t get you anywhere. Tuk tuk drivers in Laos are not open for negotiation. 

In Vientiane for example, tuk tuk drivers prefer to stay under the hot sun with no customers than driving for a fair price. This is mind-blowing considering the fact that Laos is a developing country.

As an alternative, for Vientiane at least, we used the bus. The connections aren’t great but at least I chose not to support the tuk tuk business.

3. We almost got robbed

Laos hotel theft

Vang Vieng is known for partying, tubing and drinking. It’s the Mecca of YOLO. Again, I’ve been reading a lot on the internet about hotel room theft. Apparently, it happens a lot in Vang Vieng, especially because everyone gets drunk and forgets about how much money they have.

There are tons of stories on the internet like this one, this one or this one. Because we visited Vang Vieng during the rainy season, we decided to skip tubing so for a couple of days we just wandered around the city and slept a lot. Knowing that things get stolen from hotel rooms, we took all our money and gear with us at all times.

It was uncomfortable carrying everything with us but better safe than sorry. On our last day, when we arrived back at the hotel from lunch, the hotel owner was sitting right in front of the entrance. He seemed to be waiting for somebody so at first noting seemed unusual.

When he saw us, he immediately turned and made a very specific, loud whistle towards the hotel stairs. Our room was at the first floor and as we were climbing up the stairs, his wife was just coming from the direction of our room. There were no other rooms nearby. Also, our room has not been cleaned so there was no reason for her to be in our room.

We knew she had nothing to steal because everything was with us but we were angry and disappointed. We’ve been staying at hostels, hotels and guest houses for the past year all around Asia and we never had such experiences. We never felt so violated and unsafe as we did during our trip to Laos.

This was the tip of the iceberg, the moment when we decided to get out of this country as soon as possible.

4. Be prepared for everything

We arrived in Laos after our one month trip to Myanmar. Words cannot express the respect and admiration I have for the people in Myanmar. Their kindness has no limits and during the entire trip we felt welcomed and at home in Myanmar.

Once we landed in Laos, that was about to change. For me, when traveling to a country, the people are one of the main reasons that determine if I love it or hate it there. I had a bad experience in Laos and maybe I was a bit unlucky too but this is was my experience and I can’t change that.

Although the nature is incredible, Kuang Si Falls was a delight and we had the chance to be close to elephants at the Mandalao Elephant Sanctuary, I wouldn’t go back to Laos. At least, not in the near future.

I know that this is a big statement but this is how I feel right now. This shouldn’t stop you from visiting this country. Different people, different experiences. I’ve heard many positive stories in the comments below, stories about people who had an incredible experience and loved Laos.

5. Final thoughts

Even though my experiences in Laos were not the best, this doesn’t mean that the country has nothing to offer. As I’ve already said, there are plenty of incredible natural wonders around the country.

Take my story with a grain of salt and visit Laos with an open heart and mind, take precautions and create your own opinion about it! Let me know if you liked or not Laos in the comment section below.

May the travel bug bite you!

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Why I will never go back to Laos

 

 

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75 Comments

  1. Delia Bivolaru
    February 8, 2019 / 12:43 pm

    Very useful article Aura! While travelling to South-Asia you do expect to get scammed but with minor thing not like someone robbing your room or be left in the middle of the nowhere at 11pm! Not going there for sure!

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      February 9, 2019 / 4:11 am

      Well, I think you should go and see how you’ll perceive Laos. Maybe you’ll see things differently. My experience doesn’t have to reflect your experience :). Go with an open mind but take precautions!

      • Nick
        April 26, 2019 / 5:40 pm

        I’ve been in Laos for the past 30 days. I left last week to go to Thailand for a mini vacation within my vacation. When I came back to the airport to pay for my second visa this month, which should have been 30$ usd the guy tried to charge me 35$. I said USA says 30$. He said you came from Thailand. I said I was curious about that so looked up the prices on there chart for Thailand before hand which is rite in front of both our faces and it said 30$. He wouldn’t accept less than 35$. I took out 1200 baht knowing it was over 35$ and gave it to him. He said if I’m paying in baht it’s 1500. I said that’s 47usd. Basically I had no choice but to pay it and move on. I was pissed off which made me google things about Laos which brought me to this post. Honestly if I wasn’t here with my girlfriend who is a local I would have had problems with the police, (last trip 2016) and got scammed all the time. It’s like If I walk up to even buy a soda it’s 7,000 kip for me but 4,000kip for her for same thing. The only reason I don’t get scammed is I’m here with her. At the same time though they tried to shake her down at the airport also claiming they needed to do a bag check and said it was going to be 20,000kip. I was waiting outside the airport and was like where is she. I was already mad and tired and went storming back into airport and seen her there ready to pay the money and get her bags checked and I said what the fuck are you doing and grabbed the bag and stormed out yelling. I had no idea what was going on till she told me in the truck. I was lucky I didn’t run into problems for that as I have a hot temper. Laos is beautiful with awsome waterfalls and most of the people are awsome and caring. I’ve had only a few run ins with aaaholes. Luckily I have my girlfriend aaa local or it wouldn’t be as good. I also was lucky to have her with in Thailand. Except for pattaya city I wish I was with my guy friends for that. Laos is worth the trip for 10 days atleast with a bonus Thailand trip. I’m still here and I can’t wait to go home and have some delicious american food.

        • dailytravelpill
          Author
          April 29, 2019 / 4:57 am

          Thanks so much for sharing what you’ve been through. Unfortunately, we also had a very similar experience with the visa.

        • Sammy
          June 14, 2019 / 11:21 pm

          A lao visa for US citizens is $35… I’ve lived there for years and it’s always been $35 (might have been $30 many years ago, who knows). The list at the airport also says $35. My friend has an experience like you where she only had thai baht on her and she too had to pay 1,500 baht. Of course it’s a rip off, but they do have strange and ridiculous rules when it comes to paying with other currency, even when trying to pay with Lao kip.

          • Angelique
            June 19, 2019 / 3:09 am

            Paying in Lao kip is 40 usd, just found this out last weekend when crossing the border and my USD wasn’t accepted. ( said the money was too old, then gave me the exchange rate of paying 10,000 kip per dollar. Yay me

        • Sean
          June 15, 2019 / 5:56 am

          I am a Lao descent and I have been living in the US since 1979. I had gone back to Laos in 30 year since I left Laos in 1976 and for the first time went back in 2006. Because of my mom was begging and wants to see me and my wife. I totally agreeing with the article, and they were treating me as foreigners as well. I guess it was starting with Lao descent living in exile and the government had allowing them to go back visiting Laos and countless had been harrassing by local authorities and they rather pay them rather tangle with their laws and they have been make up as they are going.
          Regular people are very nice and friendly accept those daily scammer for living. Since my mom passed in 2008 and we had not been back Laos nor planning to visit at anytime soon.
          Every level of people making a living is scammers and they considered as norms and it’s considered culture of corruptions.
          My wife and I both Lao descent and they were treating us differently then them even rhought, we are looking the same. If we wanted to buy something anything we only send our relatives to go buy them for us just to avoid the scammed. That’s very sad ☹️😢

        • A
          June 17, 2019 / 6:10 am

          Airport custom got me too. They actually said « maybe you can give us some money for coffee »… i almost couldn’t believe my ears! Such a shame !!!

          • dailytravelpill
            Author
            June 17, 2019 / 11:12 am

            I am so sorry this happened to you! 🙁

      • Hmong
        June 15, 2019 / 12:28 am

        I’m lao people, I agree your opinions and your experience….
        Just most of your problems… for us it’s usual and not yet feel those are problems.
        Laos lifestyle is like that so please understand ….
        AIRPORT TAXI
        The town in Laos is very small, just 2-5 kilometers from airport to your hotel, the price was set 10$ per 2 or 4 people . If you feel it’s expensive please walk… during walking you might find something new near the street.
        BUS
        most bus drivers in Laos can’t speak English, all bus might not be new and the way to Vang Vieng there is no schedule by bus…. only by minivan and the price is higher than bus maybe, But you take the bus to get there, it’s very usual you must get off 2 km far from center town because the road you are in doesn’t pass center town.
        MOTORBIKE
        In Laos motorbike cost 1,800$-2,200$ per 1 . And easy stole so please park in the save area or pay for parking. So before you rent you must deposit the whole price or your passport. It’s just usually thing man .

        All in Laos you need to ask for discount sometime you can reduce 10-50% by your luck.
        Be prepared is the best for traveling

        • dailytravelpill
          Author
          June 15, 2019 / 1:20 am

          Hi, Hmong. Thanks so much for sharing all these things! As you said, being prepared is best when traveling!

        • Nhung
          June 17, 2019 / 3:35 pm

          I worked at a hostel in vang vieng, laos for 1 year and i want to tell you something about vang vieng!!!
          Mortobike!
          You say that, dont give passport when you rent motorbike. So how owner do if you have accident, motorbike broken or someone steal your motorbike or ….? The motobike in laos is very expensive, most of them is from thailand. It costs around 1.800-2.000$ , no one charges you money without their problem’s motorbike. I can make sure with you about it. When i worked at hostel. There were a lot of guests who rented our motorbike, they went and they had accident but they refused to pay for fixing our motorbike. They blamed that our
          Motorbike was broken before even they checked it carefully, tried driving it before and recorded motorbike’s video.

          • dailytravelpill
            Author
            June 19, 2019 / 3:47 am

            I am sorry but this is not how things works. The motorbike owners should take a photo of the passport. In case the tourist steals or damages the motorbike, the owner should call the police. This is how it works everywhere around the world. When you rent a car in Europe, USA or any other country no one asks for your passport and the car costs tens of thousands of dollars. If you steal or damage the car, the rental company will simply call the police and things will get settled.
            The simple reason why tourist shouldn’t ever give their passport away is because this is the only legal document that they can use to exit a certain country or return home. If something happens to the passport, tourists can’t go back home.

          • Ishmund
            June 19, 2019 / 5:30 am

            I live in laos currently, and motorcycles/ scooters are not expensive. Ive had a kolao motorbike i bought 3 years ago for seven hudred dillars brand new. You can also pick up vietnamese/chinese made hondas for as low as one hundred or even lower. My advice to anyone planning on visiting laos or sny southeast asian country is do your research, join a couple of local groups on social media and always….always keep your money with you. If you cross the thai/lao border by land, you could be subject to a one dollar ” overtime ” charge but in the more than fifteen times ive entered laos be it at the airport or land, ive never been asked to pay anymore than was posted or had my bags checked maybe im just lucky but fifteen + times doesnt lean that way. Like they say, you can get scammed or ripped off in any country( including your own ) but always travel with an open mind, absorb the local culture and deal with the negative issues as you do the possitive. Safe travels.

      • War exile
        June 19, 2019 / 6:38 pm

        Thank you for being outspoken about the ugly truth of corruptions/scams in that country. Since my last visit to Laos, I thought my people were the only ones that get harrassed or scammed while traveling in Laos. For you Caucasian travelers, at least taxis and hotels are only few scams you encountered. For us(Hmong)living in the U.S., as soon as you landed in Vientiane Airport, the very first scammers are the officials and workers themselves. From that point on, be prepare so you don’t get scam by local vendors, stores, taxis, locals, hotels..and worst of all, corrupt local officials.

    • Niki
      June 15, 2019 / 3:43 pm

      I lived in Laos for 8 months. The people I met and got close to were amazing! So loving and so kind. Also you can’t ignore the beauties of the country. But yeah I did have lots of issues. My phone was stolen, and we got pulled over almost twice a week on our motorbike and the cop could never give us a reason why. Just asked for money. Luckily my husband and I speak Lao so it got us out of some trouble, but it is a very unjust country and hopefully can improve.

      • dailytravelpill
        Author
        June 16, 2019 / 12:27 am

        Hi, Niki. Thanks so much for sharing your experience! I am sorry this happened to you!

  2. February 9, 2019 / 2:23 am

    Damn. I have not done much research about Laos, but all my friends that visited (to be fair, this is more than 10 years ago) loooved it. It is so sad to hear the scams have become so common. Before this, I had only heard good things, so it is helpful to know the other side of the story. Having said that, I would probably pay the $2 for the bus. I’d be mad about it, but I’d probably still pay.

    I felt the same in the big cities in Morocco.

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      February 9, 2019 / 7:25 am

      I also heard good things before visiting. The truth is that I don’t react well to scams and I refuse to fall for them. I love leaving tips and giving extra money to people while traveling but only when I am not forced to do so. But again, my experience doesn’t have to reflect other people’s experience. For others, Laos can still be fun 🙂 I think it’s best to know about the dangers and be prepared.

  3. February 9, 2019 / 2:24 am

    Wow, rough trip. I can’t believe how many times you encountered scams in Laos!! It’s really unfortunate that Laos left you with a sour taste in your mouth. I love reading all accounts of travel so I’m glad you shared your story even though it is a negative one, it’s just as important (or more!) than the glowing reviews. Really helps people be prepared for the reality on the ground instead of just pretty photos.

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      February 9, 2019 / 7:26 am

      Thanks so much! That’s why I decided to write this post. Yes, it only reflects my experience but so are all the articles about how awesome X place is. It’s good to know both sides. 🙂

      • Sai
        June 13, 2019 / 3:58 am

        It’s not only in Laos , there are so many places in this world that tourists was scammed, I’m also traveler , I’ve been many places , but I’m not sure that you just want to share this Laos ?

        • dailytravelpill
          Author
          June 13, 2019 / 6:58 am

          Hi. Yes, Laos is not the only country where scams happen. I try to be transparent with my readers and in the past I shared struggles I encountered in other countries too. However, I still believe that Laos was the worse in terms of scams. I am sure that many people who visit this country love it and have pleasant experiences. What I shared is my experience only. I advise anyone to visit Laos with an open heart but with a bit of precaution.

  4. February 9, 2019 / 2:30 am

    It will always be controversial to post something like this, but sometimes it needs to be said. I actually had a very similar feeling towards Cambodia, and had to avoid so many elaborate scams. It was particularly hard as so many people had told me how much they loved it and I felt I just didn’t get it at all!

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      February 9, 2019 / 7:30 am

      Travel is different for everyone. I always like to write about my honest thoughts and experiences. When a place is incredible, I write about how incredible it was but when I get scammed, I feel that it’s my duty to write about it. Even though some people might go to Laos and not experience the same things as me, at least they will know how to take precautions against such scams. It’s good to express our feelings even if not everyone understands 🙂

  5. Caitlin
    February 9, 2019 / 2:49 am

    I understand the frustration here with people trying to get more money at times than what is deemed ‘fair’ for the rest of SEAsia. But beyond the fact that it seems nothing bad actually happened to you, I think we need to remember how these things come about. Laos, as you mentioned, is renowned for its partying. Partying beyond reason. Mushroom shakes, excessive drinking. When I was in Laos I met someone who had been arrested for peeing on a temple. A TEMPLE. Recently I met someone in Thailand recounting how his friends had been high and gotten arrested in Laos, I didn’t quite catch the reason. Point is, backpackers are so often pure shite and leave an awful impression on the people of the country. I understand that travel can be exhausting and it kind of sounds like you hit Laos at the point of your travels when you were fed up with it all, but I’d encourage you, next time you see this kind of behavior towards foreigners, not to run away but rather to try and engage positively with the people. The more of us who can leave a good impression might allow more people not to leave foreigners on the side of the street in the middle of the night in the pouring rain. I do believe it works.

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      February 9, 2019 / 7:35 am

      I always positively engage with locals but I can’t just act like they’re not trying to scam me. Backpackers are everywhere and I agree that some of them are not the most educated people around. However, how come in other countries such as Myanmar nobody tries to scam tourists? In countries like Myanmar, I always pay extra the local tour guides or at restaurants just because their prices are fair and they don’t try to scam me. It’s not about the money in the end, it’s about the attitude.

  6. February 9, 2019 / 4:47 am

    I get you 100% I had really similar experience in Switzerland. I am brown and I constantly kept facing a lot of blatant racism. I couldn’t get out of their fast enough. I feel it is hard to write such posts as a lot of people cannot understand that you can have a different experience than them in the same place. And they tell you, oh you are wrong and exaggerating. It is really annoying to not only have a bad experience, and then have some tell you, oh no you are wrong.

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      February 9, 2019 / 7:38 am

      I am so sorry that happened to you! I’ve decided to write this because it is the truth, the truth about what I’ve experienced. However, my experience might not be the same with other people’s experience but that’s ok. When researching about a place, I like to know both about the good and bad aspects. It’s all part of the journey!

  7. Jonathon
    February 9, 2019 / 4:53 am

    Well, there is no way I would feel sorry for you. No matter how little money you have you will always have more than the ‘locals’. Serves you right for being so mean and you were left to walk—with your attitude and lack of humour you were an easy target for the locals to squeeze a few extra dollars from you. Just pay up and enjoy the ride. How stupid to say ‘I will never go back there because I got scammed’—you didn’t loose thousands of dollars, just loose change.

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      February 9, 2019 / 7:47 am

      I appreciate your opinion. Firstly, my money is earned with hard work and I am entitled to spend it as I wish. I choose not to give my money to people who are trying to scam me. I choose to give to people who are hard working. Whenever I encounter hard working people (waitresses, tour guides, etc) who are not trying to scam me, I always pay more than the asked price. I am doing this because their services are incredible and because they don’t try to take advantage of me. I refuse to encourage scammers in any way.

  8. February 9, 2019 / 4:57 am

    Wow and wow! Scams I have never even dreamt off. You certainly didn’t take the easy road in fighting them. Well done.

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      February 9, 2019 / 7:49 am

      Thank you! My only hope is that this article will make people be more careful when visiting Laos. It really is a beautiful country. 🙂

  9. February 9, 2019 / 1:53 pm

    Great stuff to know and watch out for! While I don’t think this article will deter us from going, it is extremely useful in giving us an idea of what expect and avoid. The bus is crazy! A new one to me. Good for you not taking the easy way out!

  10. February 9, 2019 / 6:09 pm

    So sorry you had those bad experiences, the hotel one is shocking! Traveling is not always easy…

  11. February 9, 2019 / 6:52 pm

    I’m glad you shared this, even if it was negative. I was planning to go to Laos, having done Vietnam and Cambodia recently and having loved both. I’ll do Laos anyway but will be careful.

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      February 10, 2019 / 6:23 am

      Laos is a very beautiful country and it has a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty. Taking precautions is always a good idea. 🙂 Take care!

  12. Megan Indoe
    February 10, 2019 / 6:01 am

    I’m sorry to hear you had bad experiences. We had the complete opposite experience over 2 months slowly traveling the country. I think a lot of your problems happened because you only visited the cities that for Laos have been overwhelmed with tourism and just like any city that sees a lot of tourists they have more scams. Vang vieng is the worst for this because can you really blame the locals for hating what tourists have done to that place? It’s much tamer now but still people go here and treat their home in this beautiful town like it’s the Las Vegas Strip. People were dying from doing too many drugs/getting too drunk and drowning when they were tubing. They actually had to start enforcing there because of drunk idiots. I don’t think it’s very fair the paint with a broad stroke that you shouldn’t expect kindness from locals. We had SO many locals in Laos go out of their way to be kind. Multiple times a day. A family selflessly saved us from the side of the road where we were pushing our motorbike because the gas line broke. He waited pulled over with his wife and child and saved us and helped us get it fixed within 20 min of seeing us. This is just one of many memories from our trip. I hope one day you are curious enough to go back and give them another chance.

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      February 10, 2019 / 7:06 am

      Hi. Thanks so much for your comment. The plan was to go deeper inside the country, to more remote areas but honestly, we were afraid after everything that happened. I agree that some tourists are not respectful but if the people in Vang Vieng hated tourists, why do they still have parties and so many bars for drinking? They like tourism because it brings them money, even if there is a cost. However, this doesn’t give them the right to scam people. I am so happy that you had a good experience and I am sure that many others loved Laos. This article is only about my experience in the country :).

  13. February 11, 2019 / 7:19 am

    I completely understand your feeling as a traveler. Getting scammed in Vietnam was also one of the reasons I am hesitant to go back there. It was my first time to be scammed. I felt so violated. I was brought to a place that’s far away from the crowd and instead of the amount we agreed upon which was thousands in VD, I was asked for more than a million. I was shaking trying to argue with my scammer at the same time afraid that he would harm me. I’m not saying I would never go back there again but maybe in the future I won’t travel solo anymore in that country.

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      February 17, 2019 / 2:04 am

      I am so sorry you had this experience! I had a great time in Vietnam but things are different for different people. This is why maybe some people will love Laos. The best thing we can do is be careful and try to avoid scams like these. Hugs!

  14. Joel
    June 13, 2019 / 6:40 am

    We recently went it April during their New Years,it was an amazing experience,the water festival was fun and the waterfalls were a sight to see. My best friend is from there so we had our own car and someone who can translate so We didn’t feel like we’d get scammed. Only irritating thing I experienced was going through customs when entering because they only accepted brand new crisp bills to pay,no bills with marks or letter or rips

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      June 13, 2019 / 6:52 am

      Hi. Thanks for sharing your experience. I am so happy that you had a pleasant experience. As I said, different people, different experiences. 🙂

  15. June 14, 2019 / 2:51 am

    No one likes to be scammed.

    I live and work in Thailand. 15 years now, and previously Singapore for 6.5 years.
    Starting coming to South East Asia from when I was 18.

    Nothing new here that you won’t experience through out the region and I have not experience in my travels over those years. Myanmar the exception. The tourism is still in the early stages and the rip offs / scams have not arrived yet.

    Re the taxi rip offs.. I have so many friends that have been ripped off by Bangkok Taxi drivers at the airport. Even though they went to the public taxi counter and received the ticket which explains to pay the tolls only and the meter fair. They still paid off the meter.. I am like why.. Stick to your guns.. Get out and get another taxi..

    If you walked up to the first taxi counter you see.. Not knowing it isn’t the public taxi queue.. You will end up getting a Limo service from AOT and very high rates..

    If you go to Chiang Mai.. The Taxi’s are fixed price unless you walk out to the main road and negotiate..

    Bus rip offs.. I can’t really comment here as ride my own bike from Thailand.. BUT.. My experience in Thailand when taking taxi’s.. I never have a problem as a white guy speaking Thai.. But if I have Asian friends with me.. It is like that all goes out the window.. Refuse the meter and want crazy money..
    When I have visitors.. I have to tell the taxi driver where to go and to turn on the meter and make sure my friends know to pay the tolls in Bangkok only when sending them back to the hotel or out for the day as I have to work.
    – Not bus related.. but if Lao had more taxi services instead of buses.. You will get the same thing..

    Just for a laugh. I am from Australia.. Brisbane.. I once flew to Sydney from Bangkok for work. I don’t know Sydney.. Guess what.. I realised he scammed me by taking me to long way around. After speaking with my local colleagues at the destination. It happens all over the world.

    Motor bike theft / repairs / scratches..

    That can happen any where around the region.. Go to Pattaya, or Phuket and endless other places.. They will all try it on.
    The owner of the bike wanted 2000 USD.. Not because he was probably trying to rip you off.. But.. 150 USD you offered isn’t going to pay for a replacement bike if it did get stolen..
    Sure there will be gangs ripping bikes and things off bikes in the tourist hot spots.
    When we ride in Laos. The hotels / GH always insist we park the bikes inside or in a secure area.. Never leave a bike in the street over night… Just like Malaysia.. If you do.. It will be gone in the morning. Malaysia is far worse.

    Hotel Room Theft
    That is a real concern.. I know of and seen someone have there gear stolen while swimming at Tad Lo..
    It is sad and agree.. Outrageous.. The only way this can be allowed to happen in places like Tad Lo for example is the authorities are getting a cut.. Even know of one case where the guy was sleeping when they robbed the room.

    VISA rip off.
    These people get paid very little and very often.. paid very late.
    They make ends meat by getting ‘ tea money ‘ I can list so many cases in Thailand and around the region .
    I don’t agree with it.. but understand it.
    As I have so many Lao visas in my passport and speak as much Thai to them as possible.
    Usually don’t get charged more that the stated rate on the board.. May be a 1 USD overtime fee or some other nonsense.
    But if you are first time. You are going to pay more or you will sit there for an hour or so until they let you pass.

    TUK TUK rip offs.

    Come to Thailand.. You will get ripped off.. I try and take a taxi as I can tell them,
    Use the meter.. Tuk Tuk’s will rip off the locals too.. But if you are a “rich’ tourist..
    You will pay the tourist premium. ( like my Sydney taxi rip off )

    To end.
    I had the same experience in Vietnam.. Many years ago. – Minus the hotel attempted robbing.
    I also vowed never to go back… But the next time I went back.. Eyes wide open.
    I really enjoyed it and have been back again and planning another trip

    Same experience in Cambodia.. It isn’t nicknamed Scambodia for no reason.
    Also vowed never to go back.. But did and it was better than the first time.
    But still prefer Lao a lot more over Cambodia.

    Just don’t get too bent out of shape..
    It is what it is.. (Minus the outrageous hotel incident )
    Adapt and move on..

    Feel free to delete.. But to back up what I have said above,
    Here is a link to some of my later Lao experiences.
    Get away from the big towns and you will enjoy the country.
    http://moto-mania.asia/category/laos/

    Cheers
    Brian

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      June 14, 2019 / 2:59 am

      Hi Brian. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience. It really means a lot. I love hearing different perspectives about different countries. In this post I wanted to share my experience, knowing that other people might experience different things. We all want to know the true version of what traveling is but when we hear it, we don’t accept it. I think that we should accept that bad things can happen and take extra precautions. However, this shouldn’t stop anyone from visiting Laos, Thailand, Vietnam or any other country. Thanks again!

  16. Totoon
    June 14, 2019 / 5:03 am

    Thanks for your sharing but I feel like you visit a third world country with the mindset of a first world country person. You expected everything to be like home.

    I feel like you don’t do the research at all for example the taxi fare 10$. It’s expensive cos there’s literally one company operating that service here. So if you knoe this face you would be more thankful that you have a choice at all.

    Anyway I was born and grow up here but spend most of my time studied and work overseas. And yeah I did my masters in New York. So it’s just a shitty nice place.

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      June 15, 2019 / 1:16 am

      Thank you so much for sharing your opinion. While I am sure that there is only one taxi company, this doesn’t make the fares acceptable. This is a monopoly problem and it should be solved somehow. Thanks again!

      • Danny Panya
        June 15, 2019 / 2:40 pm

        i read totoon’ comments 3 times prior to deciding to respond. first come the accusation, then the defensive comment. gosh…that’s so typical of a local Lao attitude. brother man. whether you are in a so call first world or 3 world or developing world. scam is never ok. in Laos, scam are usually involve business which caters to travellers. my personal thought on Laos is, here’s a group of people who goes to temple and ask for merits, and to pray for a pleasant life, yet as soon as an opportunity presents itself to scam people. they will jump at the chance. if i have to make an educated guess. i would say, the country as a whole, have yet to embrace the idea of presenting itself as a welcoming, warm, friendly, caring destination. by educating the travel and tourism sector about treating travelers fairly. word of mouth does wonders to bring in new travelers and the revenue streams will continue to flow. then everyone benefits. the small and closed mindset right now is…I’m going to get as much money out of.this current tourist, because i won’t be seeing this person again. very sad business practice. in turn, you get to read about the negative experiences such as the ones Aura have gone thru, and it does turn people off. i was born in Pakse, Laos. in have made several visit to Laos. (7). have to put up with scam consultantly. i love the country, and the local people. i try to limit myself from dealing with businesses. i an read their scams from miles away. still happens. very sad. hope things change for the better soon.

        • dailytravelpill
          Author
          June 16, 2019 / 12:30 am

          Hi Danny. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. Yes, traveling to Laos can be challenging for some people (it was for me). However, I do believe that it is a beautiful country which deserves to be visited but with a bit of precaution. Safe travels!

        • Totoon
          June 16, 2019 / 5:15 am

          well then you need to call iphone a scam too? how much is their cost for the production of iphone and how much do they charge?

          if the price is 10$ you have only 2 choices which are taking it or walk. but you just complain like well in NY it’s so much better?

          WOW! that’s a really nice attitude!

          • dailytravelpill
            Author
            June 16, 2019 / 7:43 am

            When deciding to buy a phone you can choose whether to buy an Iphone, Samsung or any other cheaper phone. When there is only one company selling a certain service or product, there is no choice 🙂

  17. Pok
    June 15, 2019 / 12:04 am

    I’m lao, and a lot of thing you said is true but not all the country you may be unlucky.
    Lao people also fight for fair Price or use green bus. Ask people about the price or help you to bargain for you and do not use tuk tuk.

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      June 15, 2019 / 1:18 am

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

  18. Anat
    June 15, 2019 / 4:53 pm

    Looks like you’ve had quite an experienced in the paradise. I’m not sure if I would 100% believe you because in a country like Laos where people are so nice and humble it’s very unlikely for anyone to get scammed over and over again. Are you sure you’re not being exaggerated?

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      June 16, 2019 / 12:32 am

      Hi. Don’t believe me! This was not the point of this post. Go visit Laos and see it with your own eyes! Different people, different experiences. Safe travels!

  19. Kevin L
    June 15, 2019 / 11:00 pm

    You were only in Laos for one month! Hardly enough time to figure it out.
    I lived and worked there for almost 3 years

    For sure there are scammers out there but they are also in Australia (my home country) and anywhere else I have been. Be aware of potential scams. If you don’t like the price of something it’s easy…just don’t pay it or find an alternative.

    Laos is a beautiful country. Your article is well written but it follows the normal format of the ‘poor me’ tourist being scammed in SE Asia.

    Visit Laos again and embrace the beautiful people, it’s culture and the magnificent landscapes.

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      June 16, 2019 / 12:36 am

      Hi Kavin. Actually, the plan was to stay one month but because of all that happened we only stayed 10 days. I agree that scams are everywhere but this is not an excuse for any country. This post is about Laos, so I talk about the scams I encountered in Laos. This article is not about “poor me”. I want other travelers to take precautions and have a better experience than mine. Thanks so much for sharing your opinion.

  20. Max
    June 16, 2019 / 3:58 am

    Even my relatives in Laos still scam me. Don’t even talk about strangers taking advantage of tourists.

    • Johri K
      June 16, 2019 / 6:43 am

      We experienced the same frustration in Pattaya, scammed left and right. Couldn’t wait to leave the country. We also ended up walking in rage because we despised those Tuktuk/taxi drivers. We were fortunate to have a friend in Laos to show us around. He did joke we’d get scammed without his help.

  21. Nina
    June 16, 2019 / 8:29 am

    I’m sorry you have to go through all that. But Your experience is totally different from mine. Mine was absolutely amazing. I went to Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang and Oudomxay without a problem. Tuktuk here is expensive yes, but if you negotiate well then you’ll be in your destination in no time. Buses, never had a problem. Minivans, nope. Hotels in Vang Vieng nope. Btw, been to Vang Vieng twice but no scams and no nothing same as what you’ve mention above. I’ve travelled almost all of Northern Laos but I’ve never been scammed.

    All I did was blend in, enjoy the moment and be a local during my stay.

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      June 16, 2019 / 10:16 am

      Hi Nina. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I am really happy that you loved Laos. I am sure that there are many other people with pleasant experiences. Thanks again!

      • Nina
        June 21, 2019 / 4:08 pm

        I hope you’d consider visiting Laos again. Maybe you’ll have a change of heart in the near future. Who knows right?

        Have you considered Philippines as one of your travel destinations? Enjoy the wonderful waterfalls in Cebu, pristine beaches in Boracay and Palawan, old infrastructures in Manila, perfect cone shape Mayon Volcano in Luzon and more islands to visit.

        May you have many good experiences in your future travels. Enjoy!!!

  22. Anouk
    June 17, 2019 / 2:08 am

    This is the experience of one traveller and I honestly think he was not lucky! I personally don’t think this represents Laos and especially Lao people!

    So Please travellers, go read other blogs to balance everything.

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      June 17, 2019 / 2:16 am

      Yes, I agree with you. People should read both sides, the good and the bad. It’s better to be informed. Thanks!

  23. June 18, 2019 / 3:04 am

    Every thing has both side so, up to you to think and decide
    I’m so sorry that many bad things happened to you

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      June 19, 2019 / 3:42 am

      Couldn’t agree more! People need to hear to good and the bad. It’s better to be prepared for everything!

  24. Vien
    June 19, 2019 / 7:42 am

    I left Laos when I was 8 years old. I haven’t been back yet. I’ve heard a lot about people jacked up the price when they know that you’re a tourist and it’s really sad and sickening to my stomach. I’m so sorry that happened to you and to anyone’s else even the Lao people that were not from Laos. It’s so ashamed that people would only think about money and not honesty. I get it that everyone had to make a living but to cheat on people, that’s unacceptable. I’m not in a hurry to go back. Thank you for sharing. I’ll be prepared when time will come. In the other side, Laos has beautiful nature just like you mentioned. Thank you for bringing the positive side as well. Hope your next trip will not be like this. Good luck!

  25. Val
    June 19, 2019 / 10:08 am

    I completely understand how you feel. I came from Laos at a very young age, but have never been back to visit due to the same reasons, worst yet, even your own families and relatives scammed you. Sadly, but I worked hard for my money just like any human beings.

  26. David Kiwi
    June 21, 2019 / 5:00 am

    Hello, your article does not portray the real Laos. Your experience is not the normal experience. laos people are lovely and very honest. I work in ravel in Luang Prabang as lived here 6 years. I (and other living here) get to hear all the good and the bad. Your experience is highly unusual.

    it is true that transport costs in Laos are higher than neighbouring countries, but tourists do not get scammed or ripped off. Everything in Laos is more pricey than Cambodia or Vietnam, it’s imported but it is a fraction of the cost of western countries and still very cheap by your standards.

    Loas remains unspoiled and full of honest vendors and operators. it is so small any scams and rip off would be well known in the community and of course online. Search online and you will not fnd any such scams like you do in nearby countries because there are not any.

    I regret your unusual experience – it is not the norm.

    Please give Laos another go. Come with an open mind and you will find you can travel freely without having to worry about scams and being taken for a ride. Just the opposite.

  27. June 22, 2019 / 7:09 am

    In Laos had LOCA App. You can use the service. You will know the price before you make decission to trip and also You can go everywhere around the city. For others province you can use local bus the price will set up as place you would like to go.

  28. Vichai
    June 22, 2019 / 7:40 am

    Laos is one of the poorest countries in the world. Paying extra under the table for goods and services is quite common in poor countries including Thailand & Vietnam and even for locals. During my visit to Laos in 2001 with my father who grew up in Laos, we literally had to negotiate these extra charges. At first I was really angry but my father explained to me that it is the norm just like when he was growing up in Laos. Once I got used to it, it didn’t bother me that much. So here is how it works: there is no such thing as a predetermined price. Everything is negotiated and bargained upon while still trying to save face of both sides. The more they perceive you to be better off, they expect a little bit more. Govt officials will often ask for a handout/tips in addition to the official fees. We paid and thanked them for their services when asked to unless it was an exacerbate amount. We adjusted our budget for the scams/extra payments and had a great time. I think I would have done the same if I live in an extremely poor and corrupted country, and I am scraping by trying to make a living. Of course, this is a generalization as there may be incidents that deviate from this. Two things I learned from my experience: Corruption/paying under the table is the norm and expect to pay more as a foreigner.

  29. Amkhar Bz
    June 22, 2019 / 8:28 am

    I’m lao people, I agree some your opinions and your experiences. Laos actually is a very beautiful country and it has a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty. And if you know the way to go it will save your money.

  30. pao
    July 23, 2019 / 5:01 pm

    thanks for sharing, even i still can speak the languages but i was scammed too! it’s a beautiful country but bad people, political!!

  31. Matt
    August 30, 2019 / 2:06 am

    Hi there. Totally agree with your post. Over the past 18 months I have been to 27 countries and Laos is by far the worst being ripped off. Maybe I have been lucky, but I think I have been ripped off more in the last week here than all of the other countries combined. Tuk tuks are definitely the worst scam. Yesterday I got a bus from Thakhek to Pakse for 70000kip. The bus station is 10 minutes out of town, and the first driver came up and said 70000kip into town. The same price for a 10 minute ride as for the 7 hour trip?!? There was another tourist who spoke Thai and found out the locals were paying 10000, but even then the best they would do for us was 2000.
    In Vientaine I was buying drinks and snacks at a convenience store, an for example a bottle of coke was 4000 kip. A street vendor tried to charge me 10000. I got a beautiful bread roll from a stall for 5000kip, went back the next day and there was a different lady and she said 10000 for the same thing.
    I spent a lot of time in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Bolivia etc so I have been to poor countries before, but seen nothing like this.
    It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Honestly it’s not even about the money. It’s just the attitude towards tourists.
    Don’t get me wrong, it’s not everywhere. The restaurants and hotels have been great, the people are fantastic and the food is soooo good.
    It’s just a shame. I had planned on a month here, but 10 days in and I think I’m going to head back to Vietnam in a few days.

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      August 30, 2019 / 12:11 pm

      Well, it seems that we had a similar experience. Thanks so much for sharing this! 🙂 Good luck in your travels!

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