A Short Stint in Luang Prabang
I almost skipped Laos, because I’d honestly never met anyone who had been there and hadn’t heard much about the country on backpacking and travel groups (which by the way are a godsend for last minute advice).
I’m glad I didn’t.
The view flying into Luang Prabang from Chiang Mai in Thailand was mindblowing and incredibly stunning.
Luang Prabang, Laos is a perfect place for a weekend getaway as it’s a smaller town that’s not insanely packed with activities.
The whole town is marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and I found it interesting to see how it functions basically being the tourist hub of Laos. According to some locals I met I came right before their high tourist season starts in September.Kudos to myself for timing things decently well. Although, I am curious how crowded this small town can truly be? It seemed so quiet at times.
Also maybe it’s good that I was there in August before the ASEAN Summit was happening, as I heard security has been quite tight the past 2 weeks.
The night market area had plenty of food options with “buffet” style options where you could fill a large bowl for a flat price of 10,000-15,000LAK ($1-$2USD), as well a regular food stalls. Luang Prabang is also really vegetarian friendly, as meat is quite expensive to locals, so most food available was vegetarian based.
Oddly, there would be 30 or more street vendors selling the exact same menu of baguette sandwiches, fruit shakes, and crepes. I guess they figured to all cater to the French tourists who visit.
What is there to see/do in and around Luang Prabang:
- Kuang Si Waterfalls and Bear Sanctuary (about 30KM from LP)
- Tad Sae Waterfalls – local’s favorite
- Night Market – cheap souvenir shopping
- Utopia bar – have a Beerlao with some new friends and relax!
- Watch or participate in the Buddhist Monk’s morning alms ceremony
- View the sunrise or sunset from Phousi Hill
- Take a Backstreet Academy class!
Find new friends and head by tuk tuk to Kuang Si Waterfalls or rent a motorbike and make the 30KM way to the waterfalls. You get to pass a ton of greenery and some rice paddies as well during the ride!
During my time in Luang Prabang, the waterfalls were quite flooded which meant the blue water I had pictured seeing thanks to Instagram was non-existent at the moment, instead the water was a muddy brown.
Regardless, the waterfall’s main level was beautiful! It also had a much welcomed mist in the Laotian humidity.
The most fun part of my time in Luang Prabang was taking a Backstreet Academy course, where I learned how to weave a cotton scarf with an actual wooden loom and a helpful woman named Lae. The course fee also included transportation and a translator!
Let me tell you, I now have an appreciation for all the skilled people who make fabrics and textiles by hand! This is not an easy skill to learn but I eventually got the hang of it with my simple elephant design, while I was sitting next to a Lao woman crafting a crazy intricate floral pattern.
I can’t wait to go back to Laos in the future and explore more cities like Vang Vieng and Vientiane, as well as revisiting Luang Prabang. Maybe next time I’ll have the guts to rent a motorbike and explore the Lao countryside by myself.