Things We Didn’t See in Luang Prabang, Laos

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll know that I have a problem with editing.  I’m notoriously unsuccessful at editing experiences, places, and things to do out of an itinerary.  A large part of my travel ethos has been that, because I have such precious little time off from my other life as a corporate employee, I need to see as much as possible in my time away.  Many would even consider our recent Southeast Asia itinerary to be too ambitious – but for us it was actually quite slow.DSC_0580 DSC_0627 DSC_0531 (2)

Then we arrived in Luang Prabang, Laos.  We’d spent a harried couple of days in Siem Reap, and despite only seeing five or so temples there, were fatigued.

Nature and atmosphere had a way of forcing us to slow down in Luang Prabang.  We had planned on renting motorbikes while we were there to explore around, but put it off until we didn’t have any days left.

I had a long laundry list of things I wanted to see in Luang Prabang: Wat Xieng Thong, the old Communist-era bridge, Mount Phousi, the monks receiving alms ceremony, Pak Ou Caves, and Kuang Si Falls, to name just a few.  In the end, we only made it to a couple of these.  And I wouldn’t change a thing.DSC_0630 DSC_0656

Our guesthouse in Luang Prabang sat off the main drag, maybe twenty meters from the Mekong.  Each morning we awoke to a torrential rain, after which we would eat fresh fruit with yogurt.  We might write a few postcards, we might go into town for some bread or noodles.  Once we’d walk three doors down to get a bad herbal massage, and twice we’d walk to the other end of town to the post office to get more postcard stamps.  We’d attempt to use at least ten ATMs, and succeed once or twice.  What we didn’t do, however, could fill a Luang Prabang top ten list.DSC_0686DSC_0658 (2)DSC_0680

We did see Wat Xieng Thong, as it happened to be on one of our aimless wandering routes one day, and we made it to the famous Kuang Si Falls in order to visit the bear sanctuary.  Other than that, it was mostly noodle soup, with a little bit of wifi thrown in.  Luang Prabang was just what we needed to prime ourselves before making a trip to what may be the most energetic place either of us had been before: Hanoi, Vietnam.DSC_0482 (2) DSC_0799 DSC_0459 (2) DSC_0674 (2) DSC_0635 DSC_0479 (2)

Luang Prabang will always exist for us as that place where we relearned how to recharge while traveling (much like we had done in Little Corn Island, Nicaragua, back in 2014).  Our past trips have been so experience-driven that we had forgotten how to take it slowly, and Luang Prabang retaught us that it’s more than OK to take your time to smell the hibiscus, gardenia, and plumeria from time to time.DSC_0457 (2) DSC_0473 DSC_0509 (2) DSC_0544 (2) DSC_0507 (2)



In Luang Prabang we stayed at the Lan Kham Riverside Guest House, and paid about $45 a night for a great room with a balcony overlooking the Mekong (off season prices), with breakfast included.  We took a direct flight from Siem Reap to Luang Prabang on Vietnam Airlines that, when combined with our flight from Luang Prabang to Hanoi, cost a total of about $200 a person. Vietnam Airlines 930 currently operates daily and runs the two legs from REP > LPQ and LPQ > HAN.

Luang Prabang is extremely walkable.  It’s also easy to rent a bicycle to get around, but I can’t quote prices as we only moved by foot.


4 thoughts on “Things We Didn’t See in Luang Prabang, Laos

  • MB
    June 17, 2016, 11:50 am

    Luang Prabang is one of my favs. Have been twice. One of the very few places that I have visited that I want return. I’ve found many places aren’t as magical the second time. Not Luang Prabang. My fav is Pak Ou caves.

    Love your posts and your unique perspectives. Keep up the good work!

    • June 17, 2016, 1:12 pm

      Thanks so much for your kind words and for reading!

      I totally agree with your opinion of Luang Prabang. I think I could spend a month there doing just about nothing except wandering around. Maybe I’d rent a bike, but only if I grew tired of extreme sloth. 🙂

      Next time I’ll make it to Pak Ou caves, for sure!

  • June 18, 2016, 12:32 am

    It sounds like you got a dose of how I travel nearly every time I’m on the road. At least yours was a true recharge; mine is just usually the result of laziness.

    I really want to travel somewhere with good food and plumeria smells now 🙁 Germany is just infecting me with pollen and allergies and rain at the moment. If it was tropical rain, I’d be okay with that. It’s not.

    • June 18, 2016, 11:03 am

      I think you’d really like the Laos – Luang Prabang was great, but I think some of the lesser visited towns in the South part of the country, like Paxse or Savanakhet, closer to Si Phan Don, would be pretty amazing. I really like the idea of slow-boating down the Mekong, but I’m not sure how much of it is just for backpackers these days rather than being a legit mode of transportation for real people.

      We also love love loved Kampot and Kep in Cambodia, but that’s another post 😉

      Also, do you have thoughts about Sri Lanka? I’ve been reading lately, and am finding it really appealing. Probably good for food and plumeria smells, too 🙂

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