Nestled in Southeast Asia, the landlocked country Laos is the perfect blend of bliss and beauty. Just like its neighboring countries Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia, Laos has plenty to offer. This location is affordable, exciting, and offers breath-taking views of mesmerizing mountains, meandering rivers, and remote villages. You can trek to isolated hill tribes, swim in waterfalls, and explore underground caves. It is a destination filled with adventure.
Bokeo Nature Reserve – Abode of the Black-Cheek Gibbons
If you envied the life of George from the movie George of the Jungle, then you can live it too. Stay in a treehouse and zipline through the forest. That and more adventures await you at Bokeo Nature Reserve in Laos. The reserve was created to protect the population of Black-cheeked gibbon, a species that was once considered extinct. So, if you are lucky, you may just spot this rare gibbon while ziplining. The reserve is also a habitat for elephants, bears, tigers, and wild buffaloes. Additionally, the eco-project works to rehabilitate the wild animals captured by poachers.
Nong Kiau – The Rustic Village
Also known as Nong Khiaw, this village is a popular tourist destination in the Luang Prabang Province. It is famous for its many walking, biking, and mountain climbing opportunities. The most popular attraction is the bridge across the Nam Ou River, built by China, known for its stunning views of the river and mountains.
Vang Vieng – Party in the River
Admired by the party-seeking young backpackers, Vang Vieng is a small tourist town in Laos surrounded by wild fields. It offers all sorts of accommodations, from hostels to guest houses and it is filled with many bars and diners, which are open till the wee hours of the morning.
You can go trekking and rock climbing at limestone karst-filled mountains. However, the most loved activity in the town, however, is river-tubing. Imagine floating down the river stopping at various riverside bars on the way— isn’t it a great way to spend your summer days?
Making the leap from three-season backpacking to doing it all year round, including the cold months, is an exciting endeavor that takes some planning and adjusting. Fortunately, not all winter accessories cost a fortune, and some can fit well within most budgets. So, with just a couple of handy additions, you can transform your current seasonal setup into a full year’s backpacking gear. Here are the essentials you’ll need (all under $100).
1. Instead of a Winter Sleeping Bag, Get a Sleeping Bag Liner for $69.65
With a sleeping bag liner, you get more warmth for less money and less weight. Instead of getting a brand new winter sleeping bag, you can just get a liner like this ‘Sea to Summit’ option. The general rule is to create a sleep system that’s at least 10 degrees warmer than the lowest temperature you expect at the camping spot. This particular brand of liners has several options based on the degree rating.
2. Down Booties to Keep Your Toes Toasty
Waiting for your toes to defrost in the tent after a day of trekking surely isn’t on your wish list. These awesome ‘Outdoor Research Tundra Aerogel’ down booties will keep your feet toasty and cozy, so you won’t have to go into your tent prematurely when it gets extra chilly outside.
3. Balaclava Is a Must: Try the Smartwool Merino 250
A balaclava can never be too much in winter. When temperatures drop, you need to make sure your neck, nose, and cheeks are well protected. Pairing your balaclava with a beanie will keep you comfortable and warm.
4. Gore-Tex Mittens: Mountain Hardwear FireFall 2
Everyone knows how horrendous cold hands can feel and how helpless you can get if you don’t have a pair of warm mittens. For optimal temperature comfort, it’s best to pair these $70 Gore-Tex mittens with a pair of lighter gloves inside. This is a tried and tested winter method that you may already know if you’ve ever been skiing. Pro tip: choose something with merino wool for the lighter glove inside.
5. Socks! The Sealskinz Waterproof All-Weather Mid Socks Are a Top Choice
After your winter shoes, your socks are probably the most important accessory you need. These $45 Sealskinz seem to be a fan favorite and for good reason. They are designed to keep your warm and dry while remaining breathable and comfortable, which is all you need from a good pair of winter socks.