Published: August 3rd 2012August 4th 2012
Oh wow, what a place!!
Being the grandma 26 year old, Luang Prabang seemed far more up my alley than Vang Vieng, a UNESCO Heritage town, the big draw card to Luang Prabang is the Kuang Si Waterfalls which were undeniably spectacular! It was incredibly easy to organise transport there, I had met some wonderful girls each travelling around SE Asia on their own (at the juice stand, as you do!) and they invited me and my room mate at the time to join them the next day.
Customs and the visa process were fairly painless at Luang Prabang Airport, very similiar to the process at Siem Reap Airport if you fly into Cambodia. Ended up organising a share taxi into town with 3 other travellers, I had booked 2 nights at the Ramayana Hotel, a total splurge (about $50 AUD a night) but very much worth it!
So after checking in, went for a walk around the town, met some lovely British girls at the juice stand as mentioned previously and they ended up taking us to L'Etranger, a gorgeous bookshop I had read about in many reviews. It is a bookshop on the bottom
floor and upstairs is a lovely cafe/reading area where you can spread out and read a book you have borrowed or bought from downstairs. The owner of the bookshop is a French Canadian man, and the shop is run by a lovely French lady whose husband is actually the chef of the Blue Lagoon (check the reviews here
, very well justified!). Being an employee of T2
in the summer, I really enjoyed the range of teas available at L'etranger and wiled away many hours in my time at Luang Prabang here.
The waterfalls were fantastic the next day, a friend had visited back in 2005 and I had been mesmerised by the beautiful colours of the water, being a beach baby myself I have a certain fascination with waterfalls and think that might be a travel 'tick off' for me in later years, as Iguassu, Niagara and Victoria Falls are all at the top of my travel 'to-do' list! As mentioned before, I ended up going with my random new group of travelling girlfriends, and we paid about 30,000 kip each for 6 of us there and back. The falls were not too busy as it
was low-season but I would hate to see the falls in the high season between December- February. We stayed at the falls for about 3 hours, the water was very fresh, (read quite cold!) and we only really got out because we were all pruned up and fairly frozen through once the sun had moved from being directly over the falls.
Each night we would visit the Night Markets which Luang Prabang is so famous for... now being an avid shopaholic, I know my markets and these were without a doubt some of my favourite markets anywhere in the world. The BEST thing about it was the fact that the stall owners would NEVER bother you, it meant the atmosphere was very quiet and relaxing and there was so little pressure to buy anything that you ended up probably spending more than you intended! My other big buy at the markets were some beautiful paper umbrellas, although I think they are originally more of a Chiang Mai specialty, I prefered the plain designs of the Luang Prabang umbrellas, they had them in both pastel and bright colours and they look gorgeous in my place at home!
doubt another highlight of being in Luang Prabang was hiring a bicycle and meandering around the town, we ended up stumbling upon the phosy market
which were certainly a spectacle, they included a food market out the back, very similiar to what you will find in Siem Reap at the central markets. We ended up having lunch along the Mekong and then rode around the river ending up back at our beloved L'etranger. From L'etranger we spied a wooden bridge and decided to ride down too it, whilst there we spied a little Buddhist temple up in the hills, and even though it was 34 degrees, close to 100% humidity and super hot, we decided to cycle up to find out about the temple. It was a hard slog but totally worth it for the amazing views from up there.
The next day I flew to Chiang Mai on a propeller plane (one of my biggest fears in life!) and continued my adventures there, missed my new travelling buddies I had made in Luang Prabang but looked forward to the markets I had heard so much about in Chiang Mai (I am a self-diagnosed shopaholic!)
There are more photos below