I can very well bet that Loas is the most off-beaten country of all the SEA countries. If you google “underrated places in SEA”, Luang Prabang in Loas comes on top which proves what I said. Since I was in Vietnam, I wanted to get a taste of the laid-back lifestyle of neighboring Loas as well. The official name of Laos is Lao – PDR (which is nick named “Please Don’t Rush”). This land locked country has so much offer in culture, heritage, nature and beauty with some thrill and adventures locked within.
I flew in from Hanoi to Luang Prabang which is considered the cultural capital of Loas. Been under French colonial rule, Luang Prabang still holds its colonial era buildings, and the Buddhist temples were embedded like gem stones in a golden jewel amidst the colonial era buildings. The royal palace being the crown jewel of all. A leisure walk along the mostly empty streets of Luang Prabang is definitely a relaxing and soul soothing experience.
The Royal Palace and its temple, located along the Mekong riverside, is open for tourist every day from morning till evening. After visiting the royal palace, I took a stroll along the banks of the mighty Mekong river which borders one side of the town. To see the suns reflections in the river during the evening hours was eye catching. It is also possible to take boat ride in the river if interested.
The highlight of Luang Prabang is the Alms taking ceremony by the Buddhist monks which is performed everyday in the early morning hours. While the locals wait in front of their home, monks dressed in saffron go around the streets of the town to collect alms. As the monks approach, the locals kneel down to give their offerings while monks bow down to collect it. Something which signifies a humble being as I experienced it.
After watching the alms ceremony, I climbed up the Phousi hill (just opposite the royal palace) to pay visit to the Stupa there. The place was very clam and soothing in early morning hours as there was hardly anyone apart from me and few locals. I should say the view from up there was quite mesmerizing, to see the entire town covered in green and surround by mountains, with two of the rivers bordering it on each side.
Later in the afternoon I took a half a day tour to Kouang Si waterfall few miles outside the town. While I didn’t expect anything much of it than a ordinary waterfall, the place definitely took me by awe as I had not seen anything like that before. The whole place seemed to be from a magical dimension and surely I’m not exaggerating it while I leave it to your judgement from the pictures below.
Night life of Luang Prabang thought not as exciting as Bangkok or Phuket, was quite interesting as well with night market, food stalls and few music bars around the town. One of the hotel in the lane along Mekong river played a classic Laotian movie regarding the Lao people and their struggle in jungle, on the night I visited Luang Prabang. I couldn’t recall the hotel name but they had a display board outside, regarding movie night.
The third day morning in Laos, I left Luang Prabang and was on my way to Vang Vieng the party town and supposed to be the most happening place in Laos. Though it seemed to be little hyped up, the small riverside town surrounded by limestone peaks had seen its crazy days of partying culture much of which was curtailed now. Tubing is the must do activity there. You need to rent a tyre tube from one of the rental shops in town while they’ll arrange to transport you few miles upstream of the river from where you start tubing downstream the river till the town. The exciting part of it is that there are several bars on the way where you can stop by and party.
I also visited one of the limestone cave just outside the town. To be frank I didn’t find the night life of the town as luring as that of Luang Prabang. There were few dance bars in the town but decided to give it a pass as I was not in party mood and bit exhausted as well due to tubing activity.
Next day I left to the capital city, Vientiane. The city’s main attractions are the national monument – Pha That Luang, Patuxay monument, Sisaket temple. The morning market is quite huge and have varied collections.
I also visited the Buddha park outside the city but felt it was not worth the distance covered in terrible road conditions. Maybe it could have improved now or rather suggest to take the city bus instead. Other than that it was was a relaxing one week spent in the Lao – PDR. And remember “Please Don’t Rush” it.
Cheers until next time :)
This blog was orignally published on 'mytravelhustle'