Last weekend I visited Laos, more specifically Luang Prabang, where we spent a fabulous four days exploring this gorgeous little town. Being only an hours flight away, Laos has long been on our list to visit but we just hadn’t got around to it so when we finally had a long weekend it was the perfect opportunity.
We flew from Bangkok to Luang Prabang with Bangkok Air. Most nationalities are able to get a tourist visa on arrival but make sure you check first. For the visa, there are two forms to complete which annoyingly we weren’t given until landing (note to self, ask for the forms if they don’t give them to you), these require an address in Laos so worth screen grabbing or printing off your hotel details ready. Getting the visa was really quick, for U.K passport holders it costs $36 US dollars. We took a few hundred dollars with us ready but then used cash points to withdraw kip, the Laos currency.
The airport is tiny so our bag was already going around the belt by the time we got through immigration. We got a taxi from the taxi desk just inside the door and within 10 minutes we had arrived at our hotel which I will tell you more about in an upcoming post. We checked in and headed out to explore, crossing over to the town via the amazing bamboo bridge. This rickety bridge washes away with the rains and is re-built after every wet season by a family, it costs 5,000 kip to cross and makes the journey into town much quicker!
We spent most days wandering the narrow streets, perusing the little boutiques (check out Passa Paa and the Ock Pop Tok locations, particularly The Heritage Shop and The Living Craft Centre) and daily night market, enjoying the great food and alternating between drinking coffee and Beerlaos! As Laos still has such strong French influences there is great cheese and wine available which we took full advantage of…the baked camembert at the fabulous Tangor was a particular favourite! There is a great cafe culture in Luang Prabang, other great spots were Joma, The Silk Road Cafe and Novelty Cafe. The sandwich, pastry and cake selections were amazing!
On our list of must do things was to visit the famous Kuang Si waterfall but after checking the most recent posts on Instagram and realising it was completely dry we decided to save this for a future visit. Instead, we hired a scooter and explored the local area, the roads are pretty quiet so we pottered around taking everything in. We enjoyed a cruise on the Mekong river which we booked through our hotel. It was fascinating seeing the daily life of local people who rely on the huge waterway for their livelihood and transportation. We climbed Mount Phousi too, which is actually more of a hill but provided great 360 degree views across the town and river.The guidebooks say that the views at sunset are amazing and I’m sure they would be but we headed up in the morning before the temperatures got too high, and given how sweaty it was even then, I’m glad we did.
Luang Prabang is a great choice for a long weekend as it really is gorgeous with just the right amount to do. Don’t get me wrong, if you want to be up and at it the whole time you really can be but for us, it was the perfect place for some culture and some R&R. This town really has the perfect combination of slow pace, quaintness and funky that really made me fall in love and it is somewhere I would definitely return (probably in the rainy season so I can see the spectacular falls!).