Destination Luang Prabang, the little city in the limestone mountains of Laos, boasting the reverent Alms Giving Ceremony of the monks, the incredibly beautiful Kuang Si Falls, Temples and quaint cafe lined cobblestone side streets waiting to be explored.
We arrived at Villa Aphay and negotiated a high price of 172,000 kip (USD$21.25 per day) for the “big” supposedly last room left. ?If you are in 3, the price looks a whole lot better! It had a king size bed as well as a single bed. The older man running it is a little creepy – he asked me several times if I was married to my husband then said my husband is too young for me ??. When you leave the hotel, he makes you leave the key behind in a basket. Heading out the room door it says to turn the lights off when you go out, so we turned all the lights out but left the fan on to try to keep the air a little cooler (no air conditioning at our price). When we came back the fan was off, so we know he came into our room while we were gone.? The room itself was very clean, the bathroom, as usual in Laos, was not so clean.
We showered and headed to Canadian ? themed Utopia, a tip from our Korean friends. Nice groove, great music, soft lighting and a back garden overlooking the river. Ordered a large Beerlao and a Somersby cider with a pizza to share as an appetizer. Pizza was American style thick crust, not our thing, but maybe yours; flat flavour – after a few bites, we set it aside. Then we ordered chicken poppers and loaded fries, also to share and again, they failed to impress. I think, if we come back for a second chance, we will stick to drinking only. Our bill was a whopping 186,000 kip (USD$23.00) – ?our most expensive meal in Laos.
At 6:00am the following morning, we headed to the Main Street to observe the Alms Giving Ceremony of the Monks. It was a wonderful, humbling experience to watch the monk procession. There were quite a few people there, many disrespecting the etiquette/ courtesy rules of the ceremony.
Note Ceremony Etiquette: Be there BEFORE the monks arrive. Do not intrude in the ceremony in any way, keep a distance. No flash on cameras. Do not follow the procession. Ladies cover shoulders and knees, keep head lower than monk (I sat in crouching position).
On our way back, we bought 2 fried bananas for 2,000 kip (USD$0.25) – delicious! Definitely try this.
Visoun Restaurant was our breakfast choice as not many places are open this early in the morning. We ordered 2 iced coffees and one chicken sandwich; the sandwich arrived after 15 minutes, and you guessed it, no coffee ?. We were supposed to leave with our friends at 8:30, so we gave up on the coffee, paid for the sandwich and left.
Our group of 7 took a tuk tuk for 30,000 per person (USD$3.70) to Kuang Si Falls; a 20,000 kip (USD$2.50) entrance fee included the Bear rescue centre, Tat Kuang Si. I have mixed feelings regarding the bear sanctuary, really in the end you are swapping one cage for another?!?
The falls are a picture paradise. There are a few areas where you can swim, so bring your swimsuit. You can hike to the top, but it is slippery and sometimes steep, so make sure you have sturdy shoes along. I climbed halfway before making the precarious journey back down. All I could think is “if I fall, there are NO hospitals around“.?
We ate at Aliya Restaurant on the market street leaving the falls. Prices are fair whether you are beside the falls or just outside in the market street. Our order was chicken, fried rice, chicken noodles, spring rolls and a large Beerlao; received the beer, noodles and spring rolls ?! Delicious and it was good they didn’t bring our complete order as we were full! 69,000 kip (USD$8.50)
Arrived safely back in town and went to a bar for an Iced coffee and a Somersby cider. Waiter brought a Heineken and an iced coffee? which was promptly corrected. Starting to see a pattern here…
Second chance at Utopia, where we met up with friends. Ordered 2 beer, 1 7up and a glass with ice for the 7up; our waiter set our drinks on the table along with a bucket of ice. I took two ice pieces for my soda, and later we were charged for a bucket of ice ⁉️ !!!!!! Several people who were sitting with and around us promptly came to our defence and although the staff demanded payment for the ice, we only paid for our drinks and walked out.?
The evening found us walking to and through the night market. Unremarkably similar to all Asian night markets; lots of food stalls, crafts and clothing. Rather than eating at the market, we strolled to the waterfront where we had a dinner of spring rolls and pad thai washed down with Beerlao at restaurant Lamache.
As is always the case, on our last full day, we discovered the Bamboo Restaurant – DO eat here! It is a cute, clean and relaxing place with great prices as well as very tasty food located almost in front of Wat Visoun. The huge portions of chicken fried rice with egg, Pad Kee Mao, mixed fruit shake and Iced coffee came to a grand total of 50,000 kip (USD$6.15)!
Our last day found us rushing to visit the sites which we hadn’t had the time to visit before. Our first stop was the 100 meter climb up the sacred Mount Phousi, home to the Wat Tham Phou Si, around half way up, and the Wat Chom Si (Phousi Stupa) on the highest peak. The views are incredible; from the top peak you have views of the city, the Mekong River and the Nam Khan River.
We headed back down the mountain on the opposite side, which led to the picturesque Old Quarter of Luang Prabang. The Ha Pha Bang Temple, which is conveniently located at the Royal Museum was the first building to greet our eyes on the way down. I really appreciated the simple beauty of this specific temple.
Lunch found us with friends back at the Bamboo restaurant where we feasted on a huge bowl of Tom yum Luang Prabang Soup, a dish of Pad Kee Mow, the Chicken Fried Rice with an egg on top, Beerlao and fresh squeezed lemonade. This time our total came to 78,000 (USD$9.65). Knowing we would be travelling all night, it was worth filling up. ?
Still having some time to kill, we went across the road to the Wat Aham Temple, Wat Visoun Narat, and Wat Wisunalat.
Our friends graciously offered us their room to shower and change before sadly saying our goodbyes. Thanks again guys!!! A tuk tuk for 30,000 kip (USD$3.70) took us to the mini bus station where we were to meet our booked night bus to Chiang Rai, Thailand! Bus ticket: 270,000 kip per person (USD$33.50).
Read HOW to take the night bus from Luang Prabang, Laos to Chiang Rai, Thailand.
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Costs for 3 nights, 2 persons: Transportations: USD$11.10 Excluding transportation to and out of Luang Prabang Entertainment / Excursions: USD$5 Lodging: USD$63.75 Food and Drink: USD$52 Laundry: USD$3.70 (3 kg) Total Cost: (2 persons): USD$135 or $45 per day