Luang Prabang

After our 25 hour bus journey from Sapa, it was lovely to arrive and relax in Luang Prabang. With it’s French architecture, glistening temples and mountainous surroundings it is arguably one of the nicest town’s I have been to so far. Food and accommodation are more expensive in Luang Prabang then they are in the country’s capital, Vientiane. However you are still not going to break the bank. A bed in a dormimg_5664.jpg room will set you back 50000 Kip (£5) and a meal in a nice restaurant can be anything up to 100000 Kip (£10). The street food in the night market is amazing. You pay 15000 Kip (£1.50) for an all you can eat vegetarian buffet. There are lots to choose from so as always go to the busiest one, that way you can kind of guarantee the cleanliness and that the food will be good. After you’ve been given your bowl you pile the food up as high as it will go, then pay your money and hand your bowl back over so the food can be mixed together and warmed through in a frying pan. You then sit down and tuck into the concoction of textures and flavours. As a diabetic, when you are choosing your food make sure you keep track of the amount of carbohydrates you are putting in your bowl, to make it easier for yourself at the end.
img_5550.jpgAfter a couple of relaxing days recovering from the bus journey we decided to take a trip to the Kuang Si waterfall. We paid 40000 Kip (£4) for a bus there and back, giving you three hours to explore the waterfall and surrounding area. The waterfall is stunning, once you have crossed the bridge you can take a hike up the side to the top, where you can take a dip in the cool water and chill out until its time to catch your bus back. Make sure you take your swimming stuff! There is also a 3km walk you can take to a cave and a bright blue lagoon which is pretty cool, just make sure you give yourself enough time. The walk can get pretty sweaty so the blue mountain springimg_5586.jpg
and the rope swing is a welcome relief. There is a big log that stretches across the river and if you can walk along it and back again without falling in you are given a free drink. It’s all good fun. You then take the 3km walk back to the top of the waterfall and head down the other side, where there is a concrete stairway built into the waterfall, it can get pretty slippery though so I’d recommend doing it barefoot, especially if like me your flip flops keep breaking.
There is a really nice relaxing bar called Utopia which you have to go to. In the day you lounge around on the deck, on little beds on the floor, with views of the surrounding mountains and the Mekong river which carves and worms its way through the countryside. In the evening the atmosphere picks up a bit and its the place to be for a bit of a party if you wish, or to cimg_5646.jpgarry on chilling out looking at the stars. At 23:30 pretty much everywhere shuts apart from a bowling alley, where everyone heads after to carry on drinking and to try their hand at drunk bowling. Tuk Tuk drivers wait outside Utopia to shuttle everyone to the bowling alley, just make sure you negotiate a price. It started off with 20000 Kip (£2) per person but we got it down to 50000 Kip (£5) for the whole Tuk Tuk, squeezing 10 of us in the back. It worked out at £0.50 per person.
The main temple in Luang Prabang is called Wat Xieng Thong. It is a lovely temple with some unique mosaics on the outside, with entry to the temple costing 20000 Kip (£2). As I said it’s a lovely temple but I feel like I’ve seen so many in the last 4.5 months that to me it was just another one. That sounds pretty bad and I do enjoy a temple every now and again, I just think I need a break from them until I get to Myanmar. Another cool thing to do in Luang Prabang is to climb the 300 or so steps up to theimg_5650.jpg top of Mount Phou Si to see some amazing sunset views of the surrounding area. There are 2 different ways up, one from the main street, by the night market which is some steps straight up, or one from the other side near Utopia, where the steps run through a temple and the monks living quarters. It costs 20000 Kip (£2) to get to the top but it is definitely worth doing. Your best bet is to chill out in Utopia all day, then around 4pm start your walk up the temple side to try to beat the crowd and get a good spot for some photographs. You can then head down the other side into the night market to enjoy your all you can eat buffet from one of the street stalls.
Luang Prabang was a lovely little town and a great start to my time in Laos. From here we are heading to Vang Vieng to tube down the river from bar to bar, enjoying the limestone mountains and amazing scenery, it sounds like a lot of fun right!

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