Relaxing in Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang Travel Blog

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We had a great time in Luang Prabang. I would recommend the place to anyone. We had such a relaxed time there, and there are so many great food options, which is always one of the highlights for us.

We did the obligatory two trips which all of the tour operators offer: to the nearby Kuang Si waterfalls and to the Pak Ou caves, which is a short trip by boat along the Mekong.

The caves are full of Buddhist statues which have been left there by various people. They're not the most interesting caves I've visited, but the boat trip along the Mekong was relaxing, and it's always nice to get a bit of a view of the countryside.

The water at the Kuang Si waterfalls was pretty icy for swimming in; I had to get out after a few minutes.

The souvenir market
The location is very scenic and relaxing, although there were a fair few tourists there. We stopped off at a local Hmong village on the way back to see how the tribal people live; they must get so many visitors that their way of life will be nothing like what it used to be.

One morning we got up early to see the 6am monks' parade through the town centre, which was an impressive sight; people give donations of food to the monks. We also went up to the top of the big hill in town, which affords a good view over the surrounding area.

We bought a couple of souvenirs from the market (most of the fare on the market is directed at tourists). We had the interesting experience of haggling over the price, in Lao Kip, and then having to haggle over the exchange rate when we came to pay in Thai Baht.

Locals playing petanque
There is a dual economy in Laos, and you can spend Thai Baht banknotes in lots of places (which is useful because the highest denomination of bank note they had was 20,000 Kip, which was less than US$2, meaning you could end up with quite a wad of paper). We found that the cheapest way to change our Thai Baht into Kip, which we could then use for smaller transactions, was to go to a bar or restaurant and buy something small with a large Thai Baht note. You seemed to get better value doing this then you'd get going to a money changer.

I'd been trying to persuade Zoe that we should do the two-day boat trip along the Mekong from Luang Prabang to the Thai border, from where we could work our way overland, first to Chiang Rai and then on the Chiang Mai. It's a fairly popular backpacker route, although I think that people tend to favour travelling in the other direction for some reason. Anyway, in the end I couldn't persuade Zoe that it was a good idea (she was worried that it would be uncomfortable and unpleasant), so we headed to the aiport in Luang Prabang and bought ourselves tickets to fly direct to Chiang Mai. It was with Lao Airways, and was only about US$60 each. It was a pretty good option in the end, because we only had a limited amount of time, and lots of things we wanted to see.

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The souvenir market
The souvenir market
Locals playing petanque
Locals playing petanque
View over town
View over town
Kuang Si waterfalls
Kuang Si waterfalls
Kuang Si waterfalls
Kuang Si waterfalls
The main cascade
The main cascade
Locals playing sepak takraw
Locals playing sepak takraw
The Mekong
The Mekong
Climbing the hill
Climbing the hill
Village girl
Village girl
Pak Ou caves
Pak Ou caves
Pak Ou caves
Pak Ou caves
Hmong village
Hmong village
Monk parade
Monk parade
Local dish made from river weed
Local dish made from river weed
Luang Prabang
photo by: oxangu2