Published: July 22nd 2012July 22nd 2012
Luang Prabang is a old colonial town that while doing well to cater to the endless stream of tourist that the slow boat drops off on their shores, also has retained much of its charm. I was a little disappointed to see that while you get a lot of money for your dollar (they actually prefer US dollars and even only accept dollars for your visa because their currency isn't quite stable enough) the money doesn't go quite as far as in Thailand with prices being a bit more expensive (though still cheap in comparison to the states).
The group of us that shared the back of the boat found a good guesthouse to stay and wandered the night market and got food the first night. That is when we also planned the next days big adventure... A bike ride to the water falls that are very famous.
Everyone we asked about biking to the falls thought we were a little crazy. The falls are 35 km from the town (21 miles) and is pretty hilly in parts. We even had a tuk tuk driver that said he would follow us to pick us up
Looking down on luang prabang
Not even half way on the bike trip yet
when we got tired if we wanted. To us this sounded like a fun challenge though. We found some decent mountain bikes that could handle the journey and followed the signs all pointing the way to the falls. It was a hot day, so we were sweating profusely but the rides through the small villages and rice fields and general jungle was awesome. Until we came to the hills...
It was a legitimately tough ride and while we started with eight people, only four of us made it to the top on the bikes (including me). Two turned back and caught a tuk tuk from the city, another guy threw up on the side of the road and got a tuk tuk mid way with another guy up to the top. But the two Dutch girls,the British guy and me finished a sweaty mess but feeling accomplished. And the waterfalls waiting for us were well worth the effort! Words can't do justice to the beauty and pure "coolness" that were these waterfalls dubbed by some as the the best in SE Asia. We spent all afternoon swimming, swinging from the rope swing, and hiking to the top
of the waterfalls (which was another tough hike).
All of this took the energy out of us and we hired a tuk tuk back, who strapped the bikes on top and got us back in half the time it took us to get there (one hour instead of two). Maybe one of my favorite days so far... I don't remember that last time I rode 20 miles up in the mountains on a bike, if ever.
There are more photos below