Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Laos: Luang Prabang


Oh Luang Prabang, you totally captured my heart.

Luang Prabang - once the royal capital of Laos - had real Penang vibes for me. I think it was the traces of old French colonial architecture alongside the modern fast moving tuk tuks and beautiful scenery which won me over. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is really an indicator of how beautiful Luang Prabang is. 

We spent four days here, but could easily have stayed longer. Be sure to spend time wandering - see where the pavements take you... but look out for snakes! We saw a huge python just chilling in the road which sprung to life just as we passed it, much to the passing Monks' amusement when we screamed with shock! 

Getting there
We arrived in LP by means of boat - a slow boat cruise to be exact. You can see about our journey here; how we bought our tickets, how to get to the starting point (Huay Xai) and how much it all cost. 

Where we stayed
We stayed at the beautiful heritage style Villa Maydou. We had a big double room with seating on a terrace outside, and the hotel had a pool and great bar and breakfast options. The hotel began as two existing listed heritage houses which were restored before more added to create a village feel. I think we paid ~£40 a night which was well worth the money - it really reminded us of our stay in Love Lane, Penang

What we did 
Kaung Si Waterfalls - we hired a motorbike for the day and drove the thirty minute journey to the most spectacular waterfalls I have ever seen! The journey itself was pretty stunning, through gorgeous countryside - Laos is just so lush and green. The waterfalls themselves are by no means a secret; there is a pretty well established tourist scene there, so get there early in the day if you want to avoid crowds. There is also a bear sanctuary in the waterfall 'park' area, which we popped in to see!

Night market - sprawling and interesting, this wasn't just loads of souvenir tat (although there was some of that). Definitely worth browsing.

Trekking - clearly not scarred from our trekking experience in Myanmar, we decided to book on to a half day trek after being wooed by the incredible scenery in and around LP. We booked a half day trek through the hill tribes with Phone Travel - this cost us 200,000 kip for us both (around £15 when we travelled). There were many more options for longer treks with kayaking or waterfalls included, but we wanted to keep it shorter on this occassion. We were collected from our accommodation in a van and taken to the starting point of our trek via a small boat over the river. We were the only ones on our trek, with two lovely guides, which comprised of about 2 hours trekking to start, then lunch, then approx 1.5 hours after lunch. Perfect! We saw fresh elephant trails in the jungle, and were quite literally dripping with sweat by the end of the afternoon!

Where we ate and drank
Khai Phaen - a small chain which offers training to underprivileged local teens, offering modern local cuisine and a beautiful setting. (Trip Advisor)
Tangor - we just stopped for a coffee here, but the food looked delicious! Great decor. (Trip Advisor)
Dyen Sabai - do it yourself  Lao BBQ with buffalo, broth and noodles - worth crossing the river on a rickety bamboo bridge for! (Trip Advisor)
Viewpoint restaurant - again, just a drink for us again here but great views as you'd expect with that name. (Trip Advisor)
Coconut garden - good local food. (Trip Advisor)
3 Nagas - we had a drink in this fancy boutique hotel, just 'cos it looked so beautiful and we wanted to have a nosey inside! (Trip Advisor)
Utopia - the only western food we ate in LP, but it was good! Pizza, burgers etc. (Trip Advisor)

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