As most of you know, we are back on the road again, and we are currently travelling in the beautiful country of Laos. Our excitement about visiting a new country and experiencing a new culture began to grow in us long before we even arrived in Thailand.
Laos was one of the countries that we missed out on during our last trip, as we had to fly home early due to my unforeseen back problem.
When I got home, I vowed that I would seek my revenge by visiting Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia again someday.
And so, here we are in Laos on the first leg of the “revenge tour!!”
Laos was somewhat intriguing and exciting for us, mainly because of its diverse landscape and cultural vibe. As touristy as Laos is, it is rather special as it has managed to retain and hold onto its culture and character.
Our first stop in Laos: Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang is the former capital of Laos, and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage site which ensures that the town is protected from being ruined by modernity and overbuilding.
The town itself is visually charming and inviting. There is a huge French influence evident in the town which has ultimately shaped the town into what it is today.
The following is a (kind of!) brief summary of our stay in Luang Prabang.
COST OF LIVING
Maybe we were a little naïve, but we were truly amazed by the huge number of French tourists that were in Luang Prabang, most of whom were presumably there on a two week holiday.
This could be one of the reasons why Luang Prabang is considerably more expensive in comparison to anywhere we have been in Thailand.
One can expect to pay the following:
Cost of renting a bicycle $6 per day
Cost of renting a scooter $12 per day
FOOD AND ACCOMMODATION
There were plenty of options available when it came to food and accommodation. The town is packed with guesthouses, hostels, coffee shops, food stalls and restaurants.
We chose to stay at the Chantaphone Guesthouse which is situated down a side street that runs perpendicular to the main road. The location was excellent, but for $16 a night, it was a little over what we had intended to pay.
The room was very clean, the bed was super comfortable and the shower was amazingly hot and powerful – which was very welcome after our two night/three day journey.
I would recommend this guesthouse, but there was one snag to staying here, they never cleaned our room! We had to ask for fresh towels and toilet paper on a daily basis which was a bit of an annoyance,
As regards food, if you like baguettes – you’ll love Luang Prabang!!
We had eaten very little bread since leaving home in July so we were delighted to see freshly baked baguettes stuffed with chicken and salad.
We ate our fill of baguettes and after the third day, we swore we were finished with them! It’s weird the effect that bread can have on your body when you haven’t eaten it for an extended period of time.
Most of the restaurants on the main road were expensive, for both local and Western food.
There are a few cheaper eateries that can be found down by the river, and are well worth checking out if you’re on a tight budget. Either that, or just have a baguette!!
Expect to pay the following for food:
A chicken sandwich (baguette) $1.20 – $2.00
Fruit shake $1.20
Crepe $1.50 – $2.00
Lao coffee $1.80 – $2.00
Pepperoni pizza $5.20
Ham & Cheese Omelet $3.20
Mixed vegetables with rice $4.00
In comparison to European standards, these prices are considerably low. But in comparison to Thailand and other South East Asian countries, these prices are notably higher.
THINGS TO DO
There are many things to see and do in Luang Prabang, here are our top two places to visit:
Kuang Si Waterfalls
The highlight of our trip to Luang Prabang was our visit to the Kuang Si Waterfalls. Yes, it’s full of tourists but it’s so damn beautiful!
We arrived at 10:30 am as we wanted to experience the beauty of the waterfalls before the droves of people began to arrive, and we were so glad that we did. As we were leaving the falls at 1:00 pm, there was a huge influx of tour groups that would almost knock you down just to pass you by.
The falls were stunning, and the scenery was just incredible. Crystal clear turquoise pools of water can be found at different levels of the falls, most of which are safe for bathing in.
The Kuang Si waterfalls are situated approx. 30 kms outside of the town itself, and entrance to the falls will set you back 20,000 kip ($2.50).
The falls are open from 8:00 am and close at 17:30 pm. As I said, we chose to go early morning. Looking back I do wish we had stayed longer as I think it’s well worth spending an entire day here taking in the breathtaking views that are on show.
Big Brothers Mouse
This was something that both Florence and I, along with Ivanna and Gianni from Nomad is Beautiful thoroughly enjoyed. It’s a helping organisation that is devoted to encouraging literacy among young adults.
They welcome tourists to come and visit from Monday to Saturday, 9:00 am – 11:00 am and 17:00 – 19:00 to help locals with their English conversation and reading practice.
Big Brothers Mouse is a very worthwhile organisation and is well work checking out when in Luang Prabang, We met some young adults who were extremely friendly and we had great fun chatting to them about their families and hobbies etc.
If you have enough time, The UXO Laos Visitor Center is well worth a visit and getting up early to witness the morning Alms ceremony is a must.
TO SUM IT UP…
To summarise it all, I do think a visit to Luang Prabang is necessary when in Laos. However, I do think that a short visit is all that’s needed.
Six days were more than enough for us, and we were glad to be leaving as we felt that we had our fill of Luang Prabang.
We’re in Vang Vieng now, and we love it so far, it’s a chilled out haven that is home to some of the most spectacular scenery that we have ever seen.
I’ll have more on that later!! 🙂