THE ASIA DIARIES #9: LUANG PRABANG
001. After finally leaving Vang Vieng and embarking on one the most picturesque mini-van rides I have ever had (I'm talking up in the clouds on top of mountains) we arrived in Luang Prabang. The city was busy and bustling with life, but it had such a nice feel to it. I can't really describe it- maybe it was the French looking architecture mixed with Asian features, the countless numbers of temples or just the clean and colonial feel to the town- it was very lovely.
002. By this time of the trip it was almost Christmas time- not a huge celebration in Asia but Luang Prabang is quite a big tourist town with a lot of travellers with a bit more money than the average backpacker also passing through. We didn't book any accommodation in advance so just door knocked around until we found somewhere nice and not too expensive. After paying $8 a night for the most beautiful little bungalow in Vang Vieng we were a little taken back by the prices in Luang Prabang. I can't remember where we ended up staying but it was a nice clean guesthouse, that wasn't over $20 a night. Compared to the rest of Laos, Luang Prabang is expensive. The accommodation and the dining options are all a lot pricier. My suggestion is that if you're on a tight budget don't stick around too long.
003. While in Luang Prabang we really enjoyed just getting our daily fruit fix at the morning markets, walking around town, and window shopping at the night markets. I went to a lot of night markets in Asia and I will say that the ones in Luang Prabang are definitely the most unique in terms of gifts and souvenirs. Being cheap backpackers we also enjoyed the fruit shakes, rolls and other nibbles sold along the streets. There is always ladies selling tiny little pancakes- I totally recommend them if you want something sweet! I honestly think it was the only time in all of Asia I found a traditional Asian dessert dish that was vegan and readily available- safe to say I made the most of it and ate some almost every day. We were in Luang Prabang for Christmas Day, so naturally we decided to treat ourselves to a big vegan tasting plate of Laos delicacies. I believe it was less than $15 per person, but hey that was a splurge for us! On other nights we thoroughly enjoyed the all the can eat buffet for 10,00 kip (less than $2). We went heavy on the veggies and made sure we arrived early when it was fresh!
004. Luang Prabang to Laos is like the Chiang Mai to Thailand. There are literally temples of every street corner and lots of monks wandering around town in their orange robes. Quite beautiful and unique in my opinion. You can walk to the of Mount Phousi- which really is just a big hill in the middle of town with a temple on top. You do have to pay, but the views of the city are nice from the top.
005. Without a doubt though my favourite part of Luang Prabang was visiting the Kuang Si Waterfalls. Yes, this is a major tourist hot spot but it did not let us down. Honestly was so incredibly beautiful! You can walk all the way up to the top of the falls AND go swimming in the insanely blue water. Best of both worlds. Laos has definitely won the prize for magical crystal clear blue swimming spots.