After a somewhat frustrating intro to our newest destination, Laos, we were now in Luang Prabang… If you haven’t already, then you can see how we were introduced into Laos by a man who thought it would be appropriate to spit on me , how we tried to dodge the obvious tourist trap and also how our 2 days on a boat were slightly concerning at points, all in our previous blog “We are going to need a bigger boat…”. Here are some of our highlights and suggestions if you ever find yourself accidentally in Luang Prabang and for some reason failed to plan anything (guilty)…
Enjoy the Architecture and French Influence
As we arrived to the streets of Luang Prabang and got our first glimpse of the small city, I couldn’t help but notice the obvious influence from the French Indochina period (1893 to 1953), which is still strong to this day. The city still showcases the culinary remnants of the French colonization and offers a pleasing visual throwback to the architecture of that period, all of which has been well preserved and used to the city’s advantage. The streets of the city ooze European class and with the tasteful lighting around the riverfront and up through to the market streets, it’s a far throw away from what we have seen within the 6 or so other big cities throughout Thailand, a slightly refreshing change. Our first night was spent in search of accommodation and with three of us, as we still had a friend from Thailand with us, it took a little longer. We eventually found a fairly priced 3 bedroom room which we could hold onto for the same per person price when Courtney would leave the next day. Although we did have an obnoxious fan which decided to come loose soon after turning on and it looked as though at any minute it would fly off chopping one of us in half, luckily this didn’t happen.
We dropped our bags off and after a day on boat we all got showers and freshened up before our next search… the search for food.
Indulge in the alleyway street food buffets
As we ventured through the streets of Luang Prabang we were surprised to not be met with the smell of street food and spices pouring from the market, instead we were met with the aroma of freshly baked deserts and cakes, mmmmm. We had certainly arrived in a different world to Northern Thailand. Not yet ready for some baked goods (never thought I would hear myself say that) we delved deeper into the food area of the market and 50 meters from the handicraft market was food heaven. The lane we were on was lined with small stalls selling the usual delights like meat on a stick. But it was further into the lane where we decided to park ourselves amongst 6 or so buffet stalls, with around 40 plates to choose from. Cue the ‘eyes bigger than my belly’ action of piling my plate sky high. Couple this with a beer each and a free banana, we were all truly satisfied, unfortunately none of us had left any room for desert, oh well there is always tomorrow.
Then check out the actual Handicraft Market
The Handicraft Market contains a plethora of colours, cloths and crockery and it wasn’t long before I was involved in the classic Asian bout of “haggling wars”, this time for a pair of ridiculously comfy and funny looking green pants. She started high and I started equally low, but after a fake walk away and flash of my cash I got the buyer down to half price, something I’d take as a win. She looked angry with me, but I am sure that she would have sold for lower and her scolding eyes were just part of the battle.
Walk the few hundred steps to the top of Mount Phousi
We felt energetic on afternoon and decided that scaling those aforementioned few hundred steps would be a great way to get a good vantage point of the sunset over the Mekong River. Mount Phousi itself is very close to the Handicraft Market (the picture below is from about 10 steps up and overlook the market). Unfortunately we failed to realise that we would have to pay for this little hike to the top and after spending our money on lunch we had to call it a day there and settle down on one of the benches awaiting the sunset. It was however just a little disappointingly cloudy, so we missed the true beauty of a sunset from Mount Phousi, but I am sure on a clear day the views would be spectacular, they certainly weren’t terrible from where we were.
Get to Kuang Si Waterfalls
Bring your swimming gear and just don’t try and walk, that’s just silly
Next day we had to say goodbye to our friend, Courtney and also debated on what to do with our last few hours together. Well thanks to some shocking accuracy from Google Maps our last few hours together were spent ‘walking’ to Kuang Si Waterfalls. In actual fact where we got to after 1.5 hours of walking was a tree outside a lonely shop. Confused, tired and desperately yearning to dive into a waterfall, we stopped a taxi bus driver and discovered we were 30 kilometres away from the actual site. What a great waste of time :). We managed to get a considerable discount on the ride, although he made us promise to not say anything to the hotel guests he was due to pick up soon, as they had paid much more than us, rightfully so as we ended up waiting 1 hour for them to get out of the hotel room and jump on the taxi bus. In this time Courtney decided to leave and got her money back, she was pushing it too fine to be able to get back in time for her Coach later that day. You can read more about our amazing trip to Kuang Si Waterfalls here…
Gaze over the Mekong River whilst the Sun sets from the riverfront
Some other cools things we did in Luang Prabang, which were thankfully free as the place is pretty expensive by Asian standards, mainly involved enjoying the beauty of the city, especially near the riverfront where you can get some amazing views of the sunset over the water. There also some really cool small bars, although they were very quiet the two nights we tried them out, nonetheless you can find a somewhat entertaining spot to chill out and have a few beers before hitting the sack before more exploring the next day. An idea of costs in Laos so far… The beer is cheap as always and Beer Lao is pretty damn good 🙂 The food however is slightly more than other places in Asia, especially if you go for any French style cuisines, like baguettes or cakes. We couldn’t resist though the morning after a few too many beers… mmmm, the taste of home…
An idea of costs in Luang Prabang
- Small Beer – 75p
- Sandwich – £1.50 – £2.25
- Tea or coffee – 75p
- Street food – £1
- Mid Range Restaurant Meal – £3
- Soda – 40p
- Water – 40p