Luang Prabang, Laos, 2018

This is a city I have had on our "want to visit" list for about a year now, ever since Air Asia opened up a route to it and sent me a message about an introductory seat sale. Well, the sale is long over but the flight was still very affordable and so we decided to make it the destination for our second visa run of 2018 - or to be more accurate, I decided, Susan let me pick. We flew up on a Monday and back on Friday.

We liked the city, it’s small enough to walk around and saying it's picturesque doesn't do it justice. Between the rivers - Mekong and Nam Khan - the old Lao and colonial French buildings and the lush, rich, greenery, trees, fruit, flowers and vines we never got bored just walking around. The food was good although a little limited in variety, sort of a mix of Thai, Vietnamese and French although, strangely enough, it has more pizza places than I’ve seen in one area since we hit Southeast Asia.

Picture Galleries

We found the locals to be far more introverted and reserved than the people we've met in Thailand or Indonesia. They usually thawed out once we got a conversation rolling but it sometimes took a bit of effort to get started. We also met some nice folks among the visitors, an English couple of about our age, a pair of young Malaysian girls who were backpacking and two American international schoolteachers from KL with a Malaysian friend of theirs. The city is so small that we bumped into all these folks more than once.

We chose to stay in an Airbnb. The house was nice enough, an old Lao house, two floors, roomy and well deorated but not the most comfortable. The furniture looked great but wasn't the best for lounging around and a lack of fans was a real drawback. Because of the heat we stayed on the ground floor and didn't use the large, master bedroom upstairs.

Over the course of our stay we wandered around the city a fair bit. We went to the night market and the morning market, hired a banana boat (which broke down) for a cruise up the Mekong, hiked out of town to a crafts centre for weavers and dyers and just generally soaked up the atmosphere.

Among the eating places we tried, two of the best were the coffee house right beside our house with a fantastic deck overlooking the river and the restaurant at a boutique hotel down the road which also had an amazing riverbank deck. Honourable mention goes to the multi-level patio garden at the other cafe beside our house. Most unusual would be the backpacker bar where we met up with our English friends on the last night, it was literally overrun with 100+ twenty-something’s lying around drinking and smoking grass.

On a final note, one thing that took us completely by surprise was how very, very hot it was! Living in Ipoh, at about 4 degrees north latitude we thought that flying way, way up north to around 20 degrees latitude would be cooler but we couldn't have been more wrong. Mid to high 30's celsius and extremely humid. After about a day we started to joke about getting back to Malaysia to cool down.

We definitely enjoyed the trip, Luang Prabang is like a quieter, more laid back version of Chiang Mai and the Mekong presents the most amazing vistas, never get tired of it!

About Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is a very small city - only about 60,000 people - way up high on the Mekong River and smack in the middle of northern Laos. It's old city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is located on a peninsula at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers and contains both traditional Lao and French colonial architecture. It's only started opening up to tourism in the past few years.

If anyone was wondering, Luang Prabang translates roughly to Royal Buddha Image.