In Laos, Luang Prabang is the most tourist-friendly city. The architectural style is heavily influenced by the country’s French colonial heritage. Many Buddhist temples, a night market, and other tourist attractions can be found in the city. Many natural features, such as elephant farms (now renamed sanctuaries) and waterfalls, are conveniently accessible in the surrounding area.
I found Luang Prabang to be a lovely city with pleasant people. It was a pleasant enough location, but it appeared to be overrun with western tourists. It was safe and a touch monotonous. The cost of living was higher than in Thailand. I only needed a few days in LP before I was ready to move on to the next location.
Getting to Luang Prabang was an adventure in itself. To get there, I chose to take the slow boat. I was tempted to take a fast boat, but after seeing them go down the river, I’m glad I went with the leisurely boat. Later, I spoke with a former fast boat skipper, who informed me that those boats crash frequently. Sandbars of the Mekong River move constantly, posing a danger to fast boats. The boats appeared to be quite uncomfortable and wet.
I rode a bus from Pai to the Laos border. I had purchased a whole transportation package.
Our bus landed at the Thai side of the border, and we slept in a motel there. We all crossed the border in the morning and waited for a couple of hours for everyone to pass. We took a short bus ride to a boat launch point and began the long boat ride to Luang Prabang after reuniting.
The boats are extremely long and can carry a large number of passengers.
The journey was lovely and relatively comfortable. However, it was somewhat lengthy. We spent the entire day cruising down the river.
We came to a halt after a whole day on the river, and everyone disembarked. We’d stay the night in a tiny town before continuing our journey the next morning.
This would be the first town in Laos where I would spend the night. The architectural style and color scheme are quite uniform across the country. My hotel was adequate, and I was able to locate a suitable location for supper and a few beers.
We boarded a different boat in the morning, which was significantly less comfortable than the previous day’s boat.
The seats are these removable car seats, and there are much too many in the boat. The seats in the back, where I sat, were all pushed together with barely a few inches separating them.
To make matters worse, my stomach began to churn from food or beer, and I needed to use the restroom quickly. The toilet was a regular toilet that was bolted to the boat, but there was a hole cut into the floor that led straight into the river.
A lady had put up a table in the back of the boat and was selling snacks and packaged noodles. A traveler had consumed some noodles, but there was no trash bin to dispose of the plastic bowl in which they had arrived. She returned to the lady with her trash and handed it to her. The salesman hurled the plastic bowl into the river as soon as the tourist turned to walk back to her seat.
Litter was one of the things that bothered me about Laos. I believe I got used to it because there was a lot of rubbish in some areas in Vietnam as well, but I didn’t notice it.
We arrived in Luang Prabang after our second full day on the river. We parked our boat about ten minutes outside of Luang Prabang and had to find out how to get into town.
I didn’t have a reservation, so I roamed about with my backpack for a while. I discovered a restaurant with free WiFi and placed an order for a drink. Then I looked for a place online and booked it.
I selected a place that I liked and left my bag there. Unfortunately, the room was only available for one night, so I’d have to look for another option.
I was wandering around the city when I came across this man cleaning his monkeys. My first day in Luang Prabang went by quickly. I was simply looking for food and a new place to stay.
I found another location, but it was not very good. It did, however, have a roof, and I was able to secure my belongings. It was also inexpensive.
I met a boat captain who offered to be my guide while walking around. We came to an agreement on a price, and I agreed. I had the entire boat to myself, and he took me to various locations along the river. Seeing all of the different sights and getting to know my guide a little better was a lot of fun.
He took me to a couple of tourist attractions that were fine but not really fascinating to me.
I found it more intriguing when we walked to the other side of the river and had beer and food with the locals. It appealed to me more to see locations that were dressed up for tourists than to see places that were typical for the residents.
My guide picked me up the next day and drove me across the river. We went for a ride on our bicycles. We came to a halt at his home, where I met his family. For the ride, we had some snacks and a bottle of water. I had a great time touring the little community where he lived.
On that side of the river, we rode to a few other locations. My guide rode his scooter as I rode my bicycle. Tourists in Luang Prabang had a difficult time renting scooters. Because there had been a lot of foreigner accidents when I was there, no one was renting scooters to foreigners.
We came to a halt at a charming tiny shrine.
Many of the children, according to my advisor, travel to the monasteries to be educated. It’s sometimes the only way for underprivileged folks to get an education. In Laos, Buddhism is very popular, and I saw a number of monks while I was there.
My guide returned me to the city later that day. If you can find a boat guide who appears to be trustworthy, I strongly advise you to hire him. It can take some persuasion to convince them to show you around the neighborhood instead of just the tourist traps.
Back in the city, I was itching to rent a scooter and go exploring on my own. I decided it was time to leave Luang Prabang because that wasn’t an easy option. I purchased a bus ticket and departed for the next city. As I explored Laos online, I began to notice an increase in the number of entries concerning the Thakhek loop. It sounded ideal to me. I had to stop a few times because it was so far away, but I now had a destination in mind.
I hope you enjoyed my tour of Laos and will join me as I continue to learn more about this unique and fascinating country.