Things to See and Do in Luang Prabang

By: tanyamau on June 26, 2006 - 9:06pm
Remember you can use your baht and kip here. Visit a cute cafe called Joma (all taxi drivers know where it is, near the end of the main drag) and get a cup of joe. Above it is a textile shop called Mulberry's where my friend Janelle and Kristy work. Check out the White Elephant Trekking company and sign up for a 2 or 3 day trek. I did a 2 day trek ($55 US), where we hiked for a total of 20 km from Luang Prabang to Baan Houay Nok, stayed overnight in a Khamu village and visited Hmong villages, and then kayaked down the Naam Khan River (12 km) for 3 hours until the new bridge. Our local guides were wonderful, the decline down was crazy, and the native villagers were so kind and wonderful. Go to the Kuang Si Waterfalls. (15,000 kip plus 40,000 kip taxi ride) - Try to get there early..We got there at 11:30 am and left at 2 pm, just in time to miss the rush of tourists. It might take a couple hours, but keep climbing all the way to the top! It's worth it!! You can swim in the cool, clean water, where it's not crowded with others, and look down below at all the other falls. When we were there, monks came up to enjoy the fresh water as well! Wake up early at 6 am and get your camera ready to watch the monks give morning alms along the main street. It is a very interesting tradition. Eat breakfast and watch free movies in the evening at Le Stranger, a cool bookhouse with a cafe upstairs (decorated with saa paper lanterns and National Geographic magazines). Rent bicycles and ride around town. Get a massage at the Lao Red Cross. Climb up to Wat Phousi. Visit the Royal Museum. Visit all the temples in the area. The wat with the white arched entryways have beautiful mosaics on the temple walls. Most wats cost 1000 kip to visit. Visit the Pak Ou Caves...I didn't and some say it's not that great, but for a ride along the river and photgraphy, it might be something to check out. Go to Pao Vhao resort...This is a beautiful 5 star resort with a breathtaking pool. If you're not a guest there, it costs $10 to go to the pool. You can see Wat Phousi across the way, and swim in the nice pool set on the hillside. Eat at Dao Fa Restaurant for pasta and crepes. Eat the local Lao noodle soup. Shop at the night market for handicrafts (I have my saa paper lanterns and my swirlie pillow cases adorning my room right now!).
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By: jjfontana on August 30, 2005 - 5:36pm

Any trip through SE Asia would not be complete without venturing into Laos. Personally, I chose to enter from the north and take a speed boat to Luang Prabang. Although the boat trip lasted only half a day, I learned a great deal about Laos and her people. I recommend the speed boat trip, I spoke with other travellers and heard horror stories about the two day "slow" boat trip...I guess it depends on how much time you have. On that note, time is not important when travelling in Laos. Be prepared to wait....and wait for what you are trying to do. I spent a day and a half waiting for a boat to take me down river. Understanding this is imperative when travelling. Along the Mekong, you will stop at various villages for gas, supplies, more passengers, etc. Don't be suprised if you are asked if you want to buy marijuana. There is an abundance of the stuff in Laos, but be wary on the river...I heard of police patrols roaming around. But heh, that's what God made a rectum for, right?

I'll be back for more tales about Laos shortly...

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Laos-a different way to travel

By: jjfontana on August 23, 2005 - 9:01am

So, I made it to Luang Prabang in one piece.  I did see a few dead animals swirling in the Yoohoo colored Mekong River eddies, but one mammal in particular took the cake.  As we swirved down the river, I saw an odd shape in the distance.  As we approached to within 50 yards or so, I saw the legs of a man, ass-up swirling counter clockwise in one of the forementioned eddies.  He was not diving, or swimming for that matter.  In fact, he wasn't moving at all...his legs bent as if sitting in some invisible upside down chair, taught with rigor mortis.  A man in a small boat was slowly drifting towards the body.  I looked in disbelief, seeing if my fellow passengers, most of whom were w/in a arms distance of me had seen the swirling corpse.  Everyone was looking straight ahead, possibly fearing they would end up like the unfortunate man we had just passed.  I looked over my shoulder to the pilot of our long, narrow vessel, and he simply smiled at me and gave me a look that I can only assume meant, "Hey, shit happens...."

After a few days in LP, I took a bus south to Vang Vieng.  Definitely worth a stop over.  The town is right on the river, I stayed at a place on the far edge of town(the town is only about 5 blocks long) right on the river, very cool.  You can rent big inner tubes and float the river next to will pass by enormous limestone mountains that rise vertically from the river banks.  A guy from the inn will pick you up down river.  Most of the boat guys will offer you some herb, I "saw" people puffing during their inner tube ride and they looked like they were having a great time....highly recommended.

Unfortunately, the tube ride is probably the only serene way to travel in Laos.  The bus rides are absolutely terrifying.  I have been to many places where the driving has been sketchy, but Laos is truly scary.  The roads are usually gravel and not maintained, mix that with large buses moving at high speeds along single lane  mountain "roads" and you will realize why there are little plastic grocery bags tied on the  ceiling grab rails.  You know its bad when it becomes a puke fest on the bus and you realize you are the only non-local there.  Just be prepared and try to sit between two Buddhist monks like I did...God loves Buddhism.

gotta go.

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Luang Prabang

By: Casey Kaufman on July 25, 2005 - 12:51pm
Laos is a cool and cheap country to travel. Going from northern Thailand to northern Laos (Luang Prabang), one must travel by boat down the Mekong. It is a 2 day trip downriver on a slow boat with hard wooden benches. You can opt to take the fast boat but it looks really dangerous. The scenery along the way is mountainous, tropical, and desolate. Luang Prabang is a cool city with a lot of French influence. They still sell baguettes on the streets, which is odd, since bread is not common in Asian countries. The local beer is Beer Lao and it is decent. Accomodation is about $2 and up per night, depending on how nice you want it to be.
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