We arrived in Luang Prabang and set about finding some accommodation within our US$10 budget which would be easy according to Lonely Planet. Unfortunately prices appear to have doubled in the year or so since publication meaning we had to settle for a place out of town (about a 15 minute walk). We had previously enjoyed lovely accommodation in Laos for a little as US$6 per night.
Luang Prabang was a different world from Vang Vieng with a slower pace, beautiful French colonial buildings, art galleries, French restaurants, and bustling markets... not to mention a suitably mature crowd of tourists! There are relaxing cafes and restaurants where you can waste a day away or food stalls where you can meet other tourists and swap stories over a baguette (chicken and salad with mayonnaise and chilli sauce is our favourite) and iced coffee or fruit shake! Not to mention the people and monk watching which is a sight in itself as people go about their daily lives. The night market is one of the best we have experienced in Asia with textiles, painting and wood of all descriptions. We hope our large package arrives back in England in one piece!
Like the accommodation, we found the cost of visiting the sights has increased dramatically (prices in our guidebook mentioned 8,000 kip per site), obviously due to the popularity of the area. We spent over US$10 just visiting two sights, 30,000 kip each for the Palace Museum (well worth a visit) and 20,000 each to climb a viewpoint called Phu Si (this is definitely not recommended for the price as the view isn’t that great!). It was still a further 10,000 - 20,000 kip to visit each of the Wats, of which there are many. Unfortunately we couldn’t justify paying to visit all these extra sights when you consider that each site is a meal (breakfast or lunch can cost as little as 30,000 kip for two) or a couple of sights is more than our accommodation! The price does not include a brochure or information on the site which is even more frustrating (moan over!!).
There is one sight definitely worth going to visit, Tat Kuang Si waterfalls... blog and photos to follow.
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