After our two days of cruising, it was quite a relief to have three whole nights before having to venture onwards to the next country!
Luang Prabang is much bigger than anywhere else we had previously in Laos, and another spot which is surrounded by heaps of activities in the local area. The town itself is very charming, and has a lot of French influence in both the architecture, and a surprising number of French restaurants dotted around.
Upon making it away from the slow boat drop off, we rode the tuk tuk to xayana hostel. However on arrival, the place very much looked like a building site, and was deserted. Luckily, over the road the staff from MyLaosHome (which seemingly own both buildings) called us over. This turned out to be a lovely guesthouse, slightly more expensive at £30 per night for a triple room, but as the room was spacious for 3 of us, and clean (although on perusing the desk drawers, I had quite a shock on discovering a bottle of snake whisky!), with the luxury of a proper bathroom rather than a wet room (!) it was worth paying a little more. There was some slight building work going on which the staff apologised for, but aside from a few piles of bricks we were never disturbed by any noise. The hotel is location down a quiet side street, a very short walk from the Main Street and the beginning of the night market.
Breakfast was served a short distance away on a picturesque little spot on the river front, and had a pretty good selection, yoghurt and granola was a much welcomed alternative to toast! However, as its outdoors and close to the river – be wary of ants, and make sure there’s no spiders in the cups…! Overall – perhaps not one to suggest if your budget is tight, but definitely a comfortable base to see Luang Prabang.
Evenings see the Main Street (th sakkarin) completely transformed, and overtaken by dozens of little stalls, all interlinked by canapés and strings of lightbulbs, creating an enchanting atmosphere as you peruse the many items on offer (Hector you would simply have loved it!). There was more variation than at the market we visited in Chiang Mai, and a much more relaxed feel without a busy road running in between stalls. Again, this is definitely a great spot to stock up on gifts for home, or new clothes (I knew it was wise to pack light 😂) as everything is such a bargain. You can even pick up a bottle of snake and scorpion whiskey, if that’s perhaps your tipple of choice. (Better photos to come in this one!)
A recommended activity was to watch the sunset of the top of mount Phousi, looking down over the town and the Mekong river. The climb up there is tough in the heat (approx 300 steps), but the scenery is magnificent. It’s likely to be full of other tourists with the same idea, but it wasn’t troublesome finding a good spot to enjoy the sunset.
It’s a shame to say we didn’t discover the greatest dining experiences of the trip in Luang Prabang – as its much more geared up for western visitors, a lot of the restaurants heavily promoted western dining options. The spot to recommend from our stay was on the riverside at Khemkong View Restaurant which was a quiet little spot with a delicious green curry.
One morning we also ventured out for breakfast and found a cafe on the Main Street called Indigo Cafe, this place had a great selection, and very generous potion sizes. They do also advertise that vegan options are available, which isn’t something we’ve seen much of throughout the trip.
On a day of rest we also spent some time at la pistoche – which was only a short tuk tuk ride away, with 2 large swimming pools! Happy hour begins from 12, so it’s definitely prepared for backpackers, but there were quite a lot of family’s enjoying the sun as well. Food was mostly western, and not the cheapest (as you’re unable to take in your own food or drink), but the chicken salad was a great choice in the heat. There are only limited sun beds available, so we were wise to arrive early, but there is a lot of alternative seating available.
Our last day saw a stroll down to the far end of the town to see, as recommended by the staff at the hotel, the best wat in Luang Prabang. It’s hard to imagine coming across a wat which doesn’t impress, but this one was certainly one to see with the intricate mosaic designs on the walls, housing a large gold ship like structure.
In 38 degree heat, it possibly would have been more sensible to take a tuk tuk to and from the wat, but nonetheless the stroll to and from the wat was very picturesque, and we stopped to peruse a tiny bookshop (where the books were surprisingly expensive) and indulge in a tub of kiwi sorbet to cool down.
All in all, Luang Prabang was a fantastic stop on our journey, and definitely left me wanting to see more of Laos. Another visit as part of future endeavours hopefully!
With kindest regards,