Luang Prabang, Laos
Laos was an unexpected and unforgettable adventure, starting from the day we arrived in Vientiane; my friend and I took the 11 a.m. bus to Luang Prabang but only reached our destination more than 24 hours later – if you’re interested in taking the bus, then read my travel review here. Vientiane varies vastly from Luang Prabang due to the influence of foreign cultures so I definitely preferred Luang Prabang as there (literally) weren’t any high-rise buildings in sight while Western influences were also rare (e.g: music and clothes), which made for an authentic experience.
We booked a tour with Tiger Trails Outdoor Adventure (code: 52888, FT-1AM) and had the opportunity to be immersed in Laotian mountains while also experiencing an interactive trek through Hmong and Khmu villages – our guide plucked guavas from the tree as a snack, opened a sesame seed pod for tasting and even showed us the seeds of a rice plant, which was fascinating to view because I frequently consume rice but never actually imagine the harvesting process or where the seeds stem from within the plant. We ended the tour by visiting Tad Sae waterfall but due to flooding, the waterfall wasn’t swimmable and neither was Kuang Si waterfall, which we visited the next day. However, the drive to Kuang Si is highly recommended as the views are phenomenal – while returning to the city, you can catch a glimpse of the Mekong river dividing the landscape, similar to the view from Mt. Phousi but more panoramic.
I often feel inspired whilst traveling, due to observing the culture of the country I am visiting and the societal attitudes displayed. That being said, Laos inspired and reminded me to constantly be present in the current moment – many locals, and especially villagers, are often seen just sitting and observing their surroundings, contentedly – as is evident by their body-language and smiles. The infamous motto (taken from the abbreviated name of the country) of ‘Please Don’t Rush’ is embodied by the citizens of the country that are not yet aware of the fast-paced cultures many countries choose, but in my opinion, I hope Laos remains oblivious, watching the world go by in a rush whilst knowing the secret to a happy life is focusing on the now.
There are many more highlights and epiphanies, but without further ado:
This travel itinerary is for 6 days, 5 nights – take note that the coloured text was the initial plan, which then changed according to the situation
- First Day
Explore the city – we decided to take the 11 a.m. bus instead
Take the afternoon bus
- Second Day
Arrive in the early morning
Check into the hotel
Explore the city – we visited the Royal Palace (inclusive of Haw Pha Bang with a 30, 000 kip entrance fee), Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (25, 000 kip), and Wat Mai (10, 000 kip); we had an early dinner at Utopia Cafe (pictured below), which is situated atop the Mekong, then strolled the night market, which is different from the night market in Vientiane so do buy what you want as Vientiane won’t offer the same products (trust me, we searched for at least an hour…)
- Third Day
Waterfall(s) – as we had booked a tour that was inclusive of Tad Sae waterfall, we decided to visit Kuang Si (20, 000 kip) on our fifth day as we wanted to rest, due to the exhausting bus journey
Free and easy – we did a river cruise along the Mekong, visited Wat Xieng Thong (20, 000 kip), and the UXO Lao Visitor Centre
Garavek prior to dinner – 50, 000 kip entrance fee for an English puppet show detailing Laotian culture and myths
I’d recommend having dinner at the night market as the food is fresh, cheap, and delicious – there are stalls offering an “all-you-can-fit-on-your-plate” for USD 1 (pictured below), which I thoroughly enjoyed; the food stalls are all located in a narrow lane, along a corner, which can be easily spotted.
- Fourth Day
Chosen activity in the morning (Tiger Trails)
Free and easy
Dinner at Manda de Laos – the establishment, which is connected to a hotel (Maison Dalabua), boasts an UNESCO classified lotus pond and a traditional Laotian menu; in terms of customer service, taste, ambiance, and overall value for money, the restaurant is superb!
- Fifth Day
Free and easy – we visited the Silk Road Cafe, located within the compound of Ock Pop Tok, and the view of the Mekong is even more splendid here (pictured below) than the view offered at Utopia Cafe. I’d recommend visiting during sunset but do check their website for details; besides that, there are also interesting classes offered at Ock Pop Tok
Take the overnight bus – due to our initial experience with the bus, we decided to opt for a flight instead as our departing flight was in the morning and we didn’t want to risk missing that!
- Sixth Day
Arrive in the morning
As this travel itinerary spans two cities, I shall include all points of interest that weren’t mentioned, inclusive of the fees, for your convenience:
Lao National Museum 10, 000 kip
Patuxai 3, 000 kip
Lao People’s Army Museum 5, 000 kip
Wat Sisaket 5, 000 kip
Great Sacred Stupa (Pha That Luang) 5, 000 kip
Budha Park 5, 000 kip
Ho Phra Keo
Mount Phousi 20, 000 kip
Pak Ou Caves 20, 000 kip
Tad Sae Waterfall 15, 000 kip (+ 10, 000 kip for the boat across)
Chompet District (5, 000 kip for a ferry)
Big Brother Mouse Main
Luang Prabang Library
“It is better to travel well than to arrive.” Buddha