269 Kms from Loei
If I would have to pick one city in Laos that was my favorite than it would be Luang Prabang. Without a doubt. Downside: it’s fairly touristic, which is what happens if a city is pretty and has all sort of fun things to do. I thought I would list a few things to do when in Luang Prabang 1.Breakfast at Joma cafe; French style bakery with good coffee. There are more locations around town and they have them in Phnom Penh as well. 2.Rent a bike; there are plenty of bike rental shops around town, so pick a good one with bikes that look decent. The town is perfect for a leisurely bike ride and the little breeze will be most welcome I can assure you! 3.Morning Market :The morning market in Luang Prabang is fantastic or at least I think so, but then I am a market junkie. I don’t like touristic markets with all kinds of junk but if you do then you should definitely visit the night market as that is mostly touristy stuff but fun to walk through as well. For a more authentic experience go to the morning market and browse around the endless lines of stalls and try and guess some of the ingredients… (we saw fried rats! Yuck!)
106 Kms from Loei
This is the capital and also the largest city of Laos. It is located on the bank of the River Mekong. We started our trip by visiting the oldest Buddhist temple or Wat of the city- Wat Si Saket. The style of the Buddhist architecture is intertwined with the history of the capital. There are thousands of images of Lord Buddha in ceramic, gold and silver. The many carvings and rustic delicate statues of Buddha show the authenticity of this traditional temple. We spent hours cycling around the villages and local markets. There are many places that you can rent bicycles from. Trailing through the countryside we came across some of the most engagingly untouched neighborhoods.
177 Kms from Loei
We headed towards Vang Vieng, a well-known party place with tubing, kayaking and caving. Draw dropping peaks of limestone formations are the norm, this place is definitely a jewel. What a great place to spend your time and enjoy the new toy. We found an amazing room, with a kick ass 3D view of the Nam Song River overlooking karst formations. We rented 2 semi-automatic motorbikes and explored the Vang Vieng’s landscape. We visited caves, waterfalls and the blue lagoon. The rain was on and off making the ride wet, muddy and interesting.
171 Kms from Loei
We really only stopped here because we got on a train from Ayutthaya to Chiang Mai that had no air, just windows and people walking up and down the aisles selling hot food the ENTIRE time. Still being incredibly jetlagged, we needed a break from the train. We got off at Phitsanulok and quickly realized that we were the ONLY foreigners. Nobody could help us, there was no english written anywhere, and we couldn't find a guest house. After one sweet young boy trying to help us, we finally stumbled upon maybe the only guest house there. The next morning before boarding the train to continue heading north, we walked around the morning market which I am still impressed by when I think back on it. Phitsanulok was probably the least-touristy spot I have ever been to in my life, and I'm so happy that we stopped there.
274 Kms from Loei
The one thing I remember clearly when talking about Pak Beng is the warning in the Lonely PLanet that Pak Beng is mostly famous for the fact that bags get stolen out of the hotelrooms…. Stuff like that always makes me nervous. Carrying a lot of camera gear around is not always good for your sanity and/or your back.. ;) If you take the slow boat from Chiang Khong (Thailand) to Luang Prabang you’re most likely to have a stop over in Pak Beng. It’s an uneventful little town, with a few guesthouses and a few restaurants and that’s about it. Good enough for one night but not something you want to stay any longer!