Cambodia Vs Laos For Expats part 2 – Part one is here.
Which One Is The Best, Cambodia Or Laos?
Kampot, Sihanoukville, or Siem Reap? In terms of tourist spots, the two small countries of Cambodia and Laos are both top destinations in Southeast Asia. However, despite sharing borders with Thailand, Vietnam, and China, neither country patches its dominant neighbors.
Whereas Thais flock to Bangkok and head to Phuket or Koh Samui, the number of Vietnamese in Saigon pales with the hordes visiting Hanoi or Halong Bay. Cambodia is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia for a good reason.
With Angkor Wat at its heart, it’s brimming with gorgeous temples. And thanks to a massive archaeological excavation project in the 60s and 70s. The French colonial architecture of Phnom Penh is a delight to explore; there’s some brilliant shopping at places like Psar Tuol Tom Pong and Sorya Market.
Also, you’ll enjoy the nightlife scene once you escape from the city center. This place is great, with a whole host of bars and clubs that stay open late. The road to Sihanoukville is a particularly picturesque lake-side drive where you can see the sunrise over the water if you’re sneaky enough to get up early.
Of course, not everyone wishes to leave their resort or hotel room for much of the trip, and that’s where Laos comes in. The country has a lot of luxurious spas and resorts where you can recharge your batteries in style.
And there’s plenty to do even if you’re not staying at such places. The rejuvenating properties of the thousands of elephants (for hire) that roam freely around Laos cannot be overstated. Seriously, one ride on an elephant is enough to rejuvenate you for a week.
So, we can tell you that Cambodia is pretty awesome. But, what about Laos? For all the backpackers who’ve been to Southeast Asia, it’s one of those countries that tend to come with a few caveats. Firstly poverty is quite depressing, even after you’ve just come from Thailand or Cambodia.
Interesting Facts about Living in Laos
You may think that you would never want to leave your home country and relocate somewhere completely different, but for many people around the world, this is a dream come true. There are so many things in foreign countries that we cannot see from our own homes, and it is great to get out there and explore them!
Laos Has an Incredible Amount of Biodiversity
The fact that Laos has so much land covered in tropical forests is incredible, but even more impressive is the fact that this home country to roughly 6 million people has an estimated 5,000 species of vascular plants – that’s almost 1,000 different types of plant per 100 square kilometers. This is due to the country’s unique geology, which contains a mixture of volcanic mountain ranges and alluvial plains.
The People Have a Unique Culture
The culture in Laos has remained unchanged for centuries. The Laotian people are a relaxed bunch who value their lives outside of work to be filled with family and friends rather than spending time in front of a computer. Another unique aspect of the Laos people is their dress code, which is quite formal compared to western countries.
People Speak More Than One Language
For most westerners, this is no surprise; after all, many people learn an additional language or two throughout life – but for those who are new to learning languages, it can be a bit overwhelming to see that there are over 20 languages spoken throughout the country.
The Weather Is Always Changing
The one thing that you can rely on in Laos, regardless of which part of the country you are in, is that the weather will be ever-changing. This means that it’s very important to have clothes for all types of weather – whether it be blistering cold or unbearably humid. It is advisable to pack a variety of clothing to suit a range of temperatures, as well as a raincoat and umbrella.
Laos Is Still Very Rural
One thing that many people find interesting about Laos is that no matter how far into the country they go, it still has a very rural feel to it. In fact, even though the country’s population has increased significantly since the 1950s, there are still less than 5 million people living here.
This is largely due to the fact that many of the Laotian people live outside of formal housing – often traveling from place to place to farm their crops. This means that you will have plenty of opportunities to interact with locals who don’t live in big cities and follow formal customs.
The Food Is Safe To Eat
Due to the rural nature of Laos, many people are concerned about the cleanliness of Laos food. However, this should not be a concern because all food (including water) is carefully monitored by health officials who ensure that it is safe for Laotians and tourists alike to consume.
There Are a Range of Unique Festivals
Festivals play a major role in the culture of Laos, and there is one to celebrate any occasion throughout the year. The Laotian calendar is packed with amazing events, from New Year’s Day to Khao Pansa – all of which are interesting in their own way. Also, the Laotian people are very friendly and will often invite you to participate in their festivities if they see that you are not doing anything.
Why Choosing Cambodia Over Laos
Cambodia is the only country in mainland Southeast Asia to have a constitutional monarchy, making it one of the unique experiences you can find. The palace provides amazing insight into Khmer culture while also leaving room for exploration.
The town of Siem Reap lies adjacent to Angkor Wat, the crown jewel of Southeast Asia. The temples are magical, and Siem Reap is a vibrant town rich with history and colorful locals. Besides, you can’t beat the food and nightlife. So, when you’re done with the temples, load up on some BBQ and beer and let loose.
Thai Border Town
The little-known border town of Poipet has transformed into a popular destination for backpackers in recent years, thanks to one of the unique markets in the world. The border market is a one-of-a-kind experience, and it couldn’t be found anywhere else in South East Asia.
While you’ll find some incredible beaches throughout Laos, Cambodia has the most pristine coastline with beautiful white sand, clear blue water, and tropical islands to explore. Also, take advantage of the Tonle Sap Lake, which is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world.
Cambodia’s transportation network is the best in Southeast Asia, hands down. You can travel by plane, train, or bus with ease and efficiency that rivals even some of the largest cities in the world. Moreover, international options abound, and it’s easy to get to and from neighboring countries.
The food scene in Cambodia is intensely varied since ingredients are relatively easy to come by, and people are extremely resourceful. You can find food from all over the world and at reasonable prices, which will provide a culinary adventure that’s hard to match in Southeast Asia.
Standard of Living
Though Cambodia is still emerging, but it has come a long way in recent years. The standard of living is above most other countries in the region, allowing expats to live comfortably while enjoying affordable healthcare and utilities. In comparison, Laos lacks in this department. This way, Cambodia wins out overall.
Frequently Asked Questions about Laos vs. Cambodia
What do you call the person who lives in Laos?
The proper term for a person from Laos is “Lao.” “Laotian” is considered offensive by many Lao people. There are exceptions to this rule, however, as some Laotian Americans use it to distinguish between themselves and other groups of overseas Lao people.
What do you call the language of Laos?
Lao is the official language of Laos, where it is spoken as a first language by the majority of the population. Lao people, speakers of this language, are called “Lao” in English. However, some prefer to use the French-influenced term “Laotian.”
What do you call someone who is from Cambodia?
People from Cambodia are often called “Cambodian.” However, Cambodians themselves will sometimes use the word “Khmer” to distinguish between other groups of overseas Cambodians. Also, the word “Cambodian” is sometimes considered offensive by Cambodian people, as it was once used to refer disparagingly to the population of earlier Cambodia.
What is the difference between Laos and Cambodia?
Laos and Cambodia are often confused because they have some superficial similarities. Both countries are in Southeast Asia, on the western shore of the Indochinese peninsula. Also, they both used to be part of French Indochina, a “haphazardly constructed state composed of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos” (Library of Congress).
Is Laos safe for expat?
Many expats enjoy living in Laos, as it has an affordable cost of living and several natural attractions. However, some international organizations caution against travel to Laos due to unexploded bombs leftover from the Vietnam War era.
It is always difficult to choose a place to live with so many options. If you ask someone in the U.S. which country they would like to live in, for example, they might say Thailand or Canada. Is one of these countries better than the other? It depends on who you ask and why they want to leave the U.S., Cambodia, or Laos? Well, the choice is yours to decide.