Hello guys, I hope you’re having a wonderful day so far!
We are in Vietnam at the moment, but since I never found time to write about our time in Laos, I thought I’d do that now. Better late than never right?
Initially we were supposed to start our trip to Laos by taking the cruise down the Mekong river, and then stay in Luang Prabang for about 4-5 days before moving on down south. But as you know, things doesn’t always go as planned. As soon as we got to Luang Prabang we new that there was something special about the place, and by our second day there we had totally fallen involve with the place. So instead of staying for 4-5 days, we actually ended up staying there for 2 weeks.
We are the kind of travellers who enjoy finding places a little bit off the beaten path, finding hidden gems and not going where everybody else is going. We actually try to avoid the most touristy places, and try to find the more calm and laid back ones instead. Don’t get me wrong, it can be awesome spending time in a big and loud city with lots of people, but generally we love the more laid back places, preferably tropical island.
Luang Prabang is one of those places which has a little bit of both. We had been traveling alone for a few weeks and were pretty keen on meeting some new friends and spend a few days with other fun people. The city is quite big, but not overly developed. For example, it gets pitch black during the night because there basically no streetlights it the whole city (only on the really big roads). There are lots of amazing restaurants and bars but everything closes by 10:00-11:30 pm.
We started off our stay at a hostel called Villa Suan Maak. The place is owned by a a really nice german guy Martin, they serve great food (including german food) and has reasonably priced rooms with breakfast included. Our first night there we met two people who we ended up traveling with for a few days. Some of the nicest and funniest people we have ever met.
After a few days we ended up (as I explained) extending our trip so we had to with hostels to one just down the road. The second hostel we stayed at was called Mano Guesthouse, really affordable privat rooms, breakfast included in the price and amazing staff. We really enjoyed our time there!
Now to some of our favourite places and hidden gems in the city!
Kuang Si Falls
Our absolute favourite place we went to in Luang Prabang has to be Kuang Si Falls. It is the most beautiful place, one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. It’s not only the waterfall itself, it’s the beautiful surrounding nature, the way the waterfalls are formed and just everything about the place. There’s a big hike up along the waterfall, and it’s a pretty good hike considering the waterfall is huge. The waterfall consists of multiple smaller falls leading up to the big one, and then you can continue to hike up the biggest one and there you will find not only a beautiful view, but you can hike even further in to the jungle and find some amazing freshwater caves.
As some of you might already know, Laos doesn’t really have any beaches, which can be a real bummer considering it gets pretty hot during the day and you really start craving a nice and cooling swim in the ocean. But Luang Prabang do on the other hand, have one of the best public pools I’ve ever been to. Located right in the middle of the city, but yet quite hidden, you can find an awesome and cill hangout for the day. We actually spent three full days there in total. They have one bigger pool and then some smaller ones for the kids with lots of slides and other fun stuff. Even though you might think it’s going to be really crowded, it’s really not. It’s a really chill and quiet place with awesome tanning beds, tropical music playing all day long, good food and cheap drinks. They have a nice system going on where you pay 80.000 kip when you get there, which includes the 30.000 kip entrance fee, and the rest of the money they keep as a deposit. When you get there you’re given a plastic tag with a personal number on it, and when you order food and drinks you just show your tag, they keep a tab of everything you get, and they take the money from the deposit later when you leave. So you don’t have to carry around your wallet which is awesome.
If you’re the kind of person that like to just get a few drinks in a really chill bar without it being too loud and crazy, Utopia is the place for you. I still can’t believe that place even existed, it was so insanely beautiful. It was like this beautiful garden, with lots of plants and trees, and pretty little lights hanging from everywhere and it was just unbelievable. They have pretty cheap drinks if you go there during happy hour and the food was really good. If you’re going to have a night out with your friend, I suggest you start the nigh off here with a few drinks and just enjoying the surroundings (including the awesome view of the river).
When you’ve spent some time at Utopia and feel like you’re ready to move on to a more upbeat place, Sakura is usually the place that people go. It’s one of those outside clubs that’s trying to mimic the “full moon party” theme a little bit, with the music, the buckets and crazy partying. The whole area had kind of like a jungle theme going on. It’s a pretty cool place if you’re looking for a good time, loud music, cheap drinks and some crazy people. We spent one night there and we had a really good time!
“The bowling alley”
In Luang Prabang, all the bars and restaurants have to close around 10:30-11:30 pm due to local regulations. It can be pretty annoying if your having an awesome time and you want to continue partying for a while, but you know what, the night actually doesn’t have to end here. We learned by coincidence from a local that there is a so called “bowling alley”, where everybody goes when the bars closes. It sounded kind of sketchy at first, but then we met a Canadian couple who went the night before and absolutely loved it.
The bowling alley turned out to be this awesome place where you can do 10 pin bowling, archery, drink beer and just hang out with your friends. We had so much fun that night, and the whole thing was so surreal. Everything in the whole city closes, and everybody moves on to this random bowling alley to continue the party. And it’s one of those places that apparently everybody knows about, but nobody talks about it. If you want to go, just approach a tuktuk driver and say there word “bowling”, and he will know exactly where to take you. Oh, and it’s open until around 3-4 am!
One can not go to Asia without spending too much time walking down endless night markets and eating way too much delicious streetfood. The night market in Laos is a pretty big one, the only difference from the one in Laos to the ones in Thailand for example, is that there are less food stalls and more jewellery and clothing stalls. Which is fine, it’s always nice strolling around finding beautiful stuff that you can’t buy considering the limited room in your backpack. But the food that we did find, was delicious!
Things you should know before going:
- You can use three different currencies in the country, Kip, Baht and USD.
- When travelling within the main city of Luang Prabang with tuktuk, don’t pay more than 10.000 Kip per person.
- It gets really cold at night and early in the morning sometimes so be sure to bring a sweater and some longer pants to keep warm during that time.
- Here are some useful phrases in Lao that can be good to know: Hello – Sabaidi, Thank you – Khob Chai.
- Luang Prabang has a Vietnamese embassy where you can get your Vietnamese visa.
- If you’re from Scandinavia you get a free stay in Laos for 14 days, you don’t have to apply for a visa or anything. you just have to get stamped in, and be ut of the country within 14 days.
- There are roosters everywhere in Laos, so be prepared to get woken up really early.
- Transportation is not as good as the other neighbouring countries, so you might want to plan a route a little bit ahead to be able to look up transportation possibilities.