A lovely trip I have been wanted to share with you is the one to Luang Prabang, located in the northern part of Laos, with my lovely Iranian-Japanese friend, Leyla. It has been more than a year but the memories are clear and so these they need to be put in words.
Leyla and I spent a few days in Luang Prabang, during the time she visited me from Japan. The city is one of the most beautiful towns on my bucket list I had to visit. And I was so thankful that the trip was possible and I got to share the experiences with the wonderful friend of mine. Finally, there we were to spend a few days in the UNESCO world heritage site by the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers, I really could not wait to see what this town in the mountain has to offer.
Just before we landed, I spotted the mountainous view down the airplane which was truly breathtaking. Once we arrived at the airport, we exchanged the money, and took an airport taxi to the hotel.
“Villa Maly Boutique Hotel” was our home for the next three nights. We were nicely greeted and welcomed. They’ve made such a great first impression in Luang Prabang!
After putting our backpacks in place and freshened ourselves up a little bit, we went straight to the heart of the town, aka the walking street. We decided to just take a walk and find a nice restaurant to treat ourselves after the long flight 😛 (really). We ended up at an Indian restaurant ’cause why not right! 😛
The sun slightly went down, but the night was still young so we went to a bar to have their famous affordable “beer lao”. First night in Luang Prabang was quite impressive.
The next day, our plan was just to take free bikes from the hotel to ride around town and experience the local lifestyle.
Two rivers go along both sides of the town – Mekong River and Nam Khan River – and in addition, the other side of the town is also embraced by wide mountains. In the center, Luang Prabang provides its cultural richness such as temples and museums. The architecture reflects the mixture of Lao traditional wooden buildings, which was introduced during a colonial period, with the 19th & 20th century European styled edifice. Brick colonial buildings, often with balconies and other decorative features in wood could still be seen in today Luang Prabang.
We visited an ancient and well-preserved temple, Wat Xieng Thong, which was built since the 16th century, representing the centre of Buddhism and their long history from mural paintings.
The exploring of colonial buildings…
After riding around town for the whole morning, we were very hungry and decided to look for an authentic Lao restaurant I once got recommended from an old friend. The place is called “Tamarind”, it is located by Nam Khan River. We were riding under the sun in attempt to find the restaurant. It took us a while however we enjoyed seeing the colonial buildings & schools all the way to the restaurant very much.
After lunch, we rode around some more until late afternoon. Later on, we got back to the hotel to freshen up a bit before going to Mount Phousi for sunset. The way up to Mount Phousi was very crowded. Apparently, this viewpoint is very popular and has been recommended a must whilst you are in town. When we arrived, almost all of good spots are taken by tourist to watch the best part of sunset over Mekong River. For me, it was very entertaining though to watch people go completely crazy with their phones, GoPros and DSLRs when the sun was going down…. 🙂
Afterwards, we walked down with the crowds to go to the black market. Dinner was what we were after…
That night we tried local dishes…look where we ended up and of course we got very excited and impressed with all the food.
With stomach full of amazing Luang Prabang papaya salad & the grilled fish, let us call it a night. 🙂
The next day we intended to chill and just cafe hopping. As we were there to relax – no plan, no rush.
A positive comment for this boutique hotel – every morning we enjoyed our breakfast very much as all kind of food provided was really wonderful altogether with their attentive staff. I would recommend you all to stay at this place and I am sure you would not be disappointed.
Like yesterday, today we still rode our bikes along the Mekong River and found this cafe called “Saffron Coffee”. Therefore, we decided to get a cup of coffee. The location of the cafe is simply beautiful…looking over the Mekong River and it certainly is a good spot for (local) people watching. We took our time and discussed about lots of stuff, particularly about the Iranian history and revolution. 🙂
After that coffee, off we went again to ride around to the other side of the town. In Luang Prabang, it is all about riding bikes and experiencing the local lifestyle. Later on, we decided to stop at a local restaurant where everyone was lining up to get their lunch. Anywhere you go, if local people line up for food – you are safe.
In the early afternoon we instantly made a decision to go to”Kuang Si Falls” a famous waterfall in Luang Prabang. We got very excited yet the van ride was painful for me…as I was trying so hard not to throw up. Could not be happier when I heard the driver stopped the engine, it meant we were already there!
The moment we arrived I could completely breathe the fresh air of the forest and the waterfall…it was naturally magical.
We were hiking to the falls and found a relaxing spot to enjoy our books for a few hours. Late afternoon, we had to head back to town, it was such a pity but we made a few friends on the ride back. At town, we took our bikes to Mekong River again in order to watch another sunset by the Mekong River. Once the night came, we went back to the market to feed our hungry little stomachs with the Lao cuisine time and again.
Last day in Luang Prabang, we were still on a quest of finding the best French pastries in town. We came across “Le Banneton Cafe” which is quite renowned for their french pastries – so we had to try if what we heard is true.
Certainly, their colonial styled building is very outstanding from all the others. For me, their french bakery i.e. croissants & pain au chocolate might be one of the best that I have ever tasted (in my life – well I have not tasted a lot yet :P), even though for drinks I would prefer the other cafe we visited yesterday.
However, there are loads of cafes we did not have a chance to visit so that will be for you all to explore by yourselves next time you decide to give Luang Prabang a try.
Our last day was somehow fulfilled with the delicious pastries and we had to leave Luang Prabang already.
Before saying good bye, I would like to say a few words to this pretty town – Luang Prabang was truly, amazingly and remarkably wonderful, worth visiting and really full of charms in its own way. Their architecture and culture are present in every corner of its streets. The two rivers, Mekong and Nam Khan River depict the meaning of life and how local people depend very much on them. I enjoyed every second spent in this town and especially spent with my lovely travel partner – I really could not ask for a better one. Thanks a lot Leyla for traveling together. Good bye Luang Prabang and for Leyla until I see you again in the next few weeks in Sri Lanka. 🙂
Thanks everyone for visiting!
With love, Pik