Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang the pearl of Indochina

Bella Luang Prabang an elegant, clean and quiet city on the banks of the Mekong river where majestic and splendid Buddhist temples stand and life continues to flow with a slowness that I have only been able to experience in Laos.

Luang Prabang is located 400 kilometers north of the capital Your exports and 7 hours by bus from Vang Vieng, compared to the rest of Laos this city is unique in its structure and character, a pearl in every sense immersed in a rural life made of jungle, mountains, villages and hard work.

Apart from the bus trip from Vang Vieng which had an epic quality and which will be a trip that I will hardly forget, the city repays you for the trip and makes you think that you would do it again 4 times.
Luang Prabang is not very big and you can easily get around on foot or the best thing to do is to rent a bicycle to alternate walking.
For example, after having had a hearty breakfast with a Laos sandwich (a bag full of all the things I couldn’t identify) I immediately headed to the vegetable and meat market. I arrived just in time before closing, so I recommend going early because it starts to empty already at 11am.

The city is animated by splendid colorful buildings with wooden roofs and doors all immersed in nature, all with gardens, all with plants and trees, although there are many people in the streets the city seems to be silent, tidy, there are not too many cars but above all there are not too many scooters and then many little Buddhist monks in the streets (my passion and my favorite photographic subjects!).

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A small and elegant oasis of peace in northern Laos, an even more beautiful copy of Chiang Mai, but smaller, more visible and less noisy and with bicycles instead of scooters. An oasis of pleasure for your ears and your soul.
If you rent a bicycle (which costs around 20,000 kip) you can travel around the city far and wide, you can go around the temples, or take a tour of the internal streets and photograph all the most colorful and beautiful details of life in Laos, or stop in one of the many bars along the river bank and enjoy a bit of tranquility while sipping an excellent Lao coffee or a coca cola.

The Buddhist temples here are splendid, completely different from the Thai ones but which are instead more reminiscent of the Cambodian ones with the difference that here they stand out even more in their magnificence.
There isn’t as much gold as there is in the temples Thailand and Myanmar but there are wooden inlays and warm colors such as purple and brown that highlight the white walls, there is none of the exaggerated pomp of the Yangon Pagoda. Here wood wins over gold and the effect is magnificent.

Luang Prabang

By bicycle you can visit the city in a day without missing anything. If you wake up at 6 in the morning you can witness the breakfast harvest of the Buddhist monks, the place to see it is immediately after the National Museum on the main road.
Then I wanted to do the sunset at the temple on the hill, 200 meters above the city, I saw the sun setting behind what was and still is today the Jewel of Asia and at that time it begins to come alive with the first stalls of the night market: clothes, objects, souvenirs and above all food! A lot of food.
The good value options here are numerous but my favorite was the self service of local food where you pay 10,000 kip and can fill your plate with whatever you want. I admit, the first evening I made it, as soon as I placed the plate on the table and compared it with that of the neighbors, I was ashamed.

Culturally I noticed a strong Thai influence, throughout Laos actually but especially here, the influences range from the clothes that are sold at the market (and which cost more in Laos), to the music, the dishes (which unfortunately in Laos are less various) and partly the language. In fact, I was told that there are many similarities between the two languages ​​and that the television they see, as well as the music they hear, are predominantly Thai.
this strong influence/dependence made me think about the fact that this country imports everything and unfortunately produces nothing, if only there was a responsible government that could teach these people to produce what they currently have to buy!
There are many activities to do here, in particular the agencies specialize in eco tours for the local tribes and the mountains, although my advice is to go further north of Laos to have an even more authentic and less touristy experience and crowded.

If I had more time I would have stayed longer than I could have but I think Luang Prabang deserves a visit of at least a few days. Even just doing nothing is a pleasure in this splendid city of friendly, smiling people, outdoor adventures and responsible tourism.

How to get to Luang Prabang

Considering the state of public transport, I don’t recommend arriving directly from Vientene but rather from Vang Vieng, otherwise the journey could become a 20-hour nightmare.
From Vang Vieng the VIP ticket (ours was without air conditioning and without windows, you literally couldn’t breathe, imagine what non-VIPs are like) costs 95,000 kip.
Alternatively you can get there from Thailand by river or from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai.

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