Luang Prabang, Laos – January 2011
I’m calling this entry Luang Prabang, and not Laos, as our only stop in Laos was the city of Luang Prabang. We were shooting for the highest per day visa and transport expense, so any other places in Laos were out of the question! (joking). Since we didn’t relish a day long bus ride for $50, we opted for a one hour flight on Lao Airlines for $150. The airport in Luang Prabang is a speck, but we have a thorough review of our passports by a dozen immigration officials before they decided we weren’t a threat. Very official.
We stayed at Guesthouse Manichan for approx $25/night for a shared bathroom and room with AC and breakfast. I thoroughly recommend them for the price, clean accommodations and welcome atmosphere. We had a good time chatting with the hosts and hanging with their kittens.
Our first day we toured the tiny city (reminiscent of old Toledo in Spain, surrounded on 3 sides by river, with a relaxed and friendly pace). There are loads of quaint guesthouses off the main drag, and restaurants ringing the slopes of the riverbank. Every place we went was very affordable, even the nicest looking restaurants. The city is popular with expats, and a growing spot on the SE Asia tourist trail, so hopefully everything stays peaceful.
We also enjoyed evening sunsets from the hill in the middle of the city, the lively night market, watching a sunset while enjoying a 50cent beer on the river, a day trip to the waterfalls of tat kuang si, and a halfday elephant riding experience with Elephant Village. This last experience was particularly memorable and rewarding, not just for the fun of riding and “driving” an adult elephant through the Jungles of Laos, but also because the charitable organization which rescues and cares for the elephants seems to be legit in the primary focus of adopting and caring for elephants which have led lives of abuse in logging and other trades.
All in all, we have to say that this has been our favorite stop so far in our whirlwind trip through SE Asia. Could definitely return for a week or two, and look forward to a stay in Vietiane as well. It’s the perfect spot for slowing down and relaxing in “untouched” SE Asia.