Arrival Day to Laos
- Breathtaking view on landing, it was a quick flight into Luang Prabang from Chiang Mai (1 hr).
- No sign of our driver, so we exchanged some money thinking we’d need a taxi. As soon as the money was exchanged, in walked the driver with our name on the sign.
- Arrival at the hotel (3 Nagas by Sofitel), a very quaint and charming hotel in the center of town, walkable to mostly everywhere, a must stay place if you visit the area.
- After checking in we took a walk around town and stopped into a few temples (HH and I couldn’t go in since we weren’t in pants, but we made friends with a local family in the meantime).
- Off to dinner at The Bamboo Tree, a local restaurant that was SO GOOD and SO inexpensive given the exchange rate. They greeted us with a complimentary drink and after an amazing meal we had a complimentary whiskey tasting, where they left the bottle on the table for us in case we “wanted to try more.”
- Utopia Bar was next – a local backpackers bar on the river. Removing our shoes, we were then seated on the edge of a bamboo patio overlooking the river, and sat on these floor mats with pillows if you wanted to lay down. All the staff wore shirts that said ‘Smile’, a little extra bonus.
- Walking back, we stopped in a final place for a night cap, since the vibe was good and the guy working there invited us in for a drink. We had good laughs and were wishing we didn’t have such an early start in the morning so we could still hang out a bit longer in town. Verdict: someone is having a bachelorette party here so we can come back.
- A tuk tuk ride and we were back to the hotel for an early night sleep since tomorrow’s an early start.
- 5:30AM: Almsgiving – this just so happened to fall on Thanksgiving for us, it was great to be part of this ceremony, where monks make their journey to the temple through the town at sunrise, collecting food from the locals for the poor. After awkwardly trying to figure out where to buy the food, getting wrapped in proper attire by a local, and removing our shoes before sitting on the side of the road, the procession began and we offered sticky rice and sweet treats.
- 6:30AM: next stop, breakfast! Found a cute cafe a short walk from the hotel, had a ham and cheese croissaant, fresh squeezed OJ, and watched the monks arriving to the temple across the street.
- 7:30AM: I set out the paper mache turkeys I brought from home for a little Thanksgiving reminder for Dennis and HH.
- 8:00AM: Met our tour guide and the first stop was a local morning market. Let me say… it was eye opening, I wanted to vomit at times, but it gave me a true appreciation of the local culture and the importance of heading to the market each morning to buy fresh local produce to prepare meals for the day. You could see a nurse for holistic herbs, buy your fruits and veggies, meats (squirrel and rat included), amongst other staples!
- 9:00AM: We stopped at a local village where we saw the local homes, watched a woman make string (yes, make, including coloring the cotton which was now yarn with berries, ginger, and other natural things in varying colors). You could buy a scarf, which took 20 days to hand make, for $10 USD.
- 10:00AM: Almost to the waterfalls but first a stop at a village home for a taste of the homemade whiskey. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right?
- 10:15AM: Quick stop at the village temple, where one 87 year old monk lives. We met him and the guide had a quick chat, before the waterfall.
- 10:30AM: Made it to the waterfall! It was beautiful – clear water, tons of falls, and not too crowded at this time. There was an option to hike up to the top of the large falls, and against better judgement we made the trek. About an hour later, I scaled a montain, the only thing helping was a single bamboo railing. My fear of heights was in full gear, but I made it to the top and back down again.
- 1:30PM: Museum time to get a better idea of the history of Laos and Luang Prabang – this was a complex including the palace where their former King lived. Definitely worth the visit!
- 3:00PM: Time for a drink and some pizza… yes, pizza. A proper Thanksgiving appetizer 😉
- 4:00PM: In case we didn’t climb enough today on our hike, it was time to climb the 398 stairs to the highest point in Luang Prabang for a 360 degree view of the city. Again, my fear of heights loving me today, sweat pouring, lungs barely working, head pulsing… we made it the top, and it was breathtaking and worth every step! On the way down Dennis took a video for us to prove the trek. Also, at one point HH was wishing there was a bamboo rail (the same one we didn’t think would save our fall earlier), to which she decided the Rock was going to be ‘her rock’.
- 5:30PM: 2-3 Bar Stops for drinks while sitting on the side walks looking at the night market being set up.
- 6:20PM: After rushing back to the hotel to exchange money and a brisk walk to the local story-telling location, it was closed.
- 6:30PM: Thanksgiving Dinner at the hotel (3 Nagas), and a close to our time in Laos.
Verdict: Laos is a MUST SEE! Quaint town, very walkable, hospitable locals, and an overall great time.
#travel #southeastasia #laos