We didn’t really know what to expect when we arrived in Laos. We had just got our heads around the Baht, now we had to negotiate the Kip where £1=approx 12,000 kip!
We arrived at our hostel and were given a very handy annotated map. We freshened up and headed out. We were really close to the night market which was being set up so we had a wander through this for a while.
Every stall owner was desperate for your custom but every 6 stalls or so, were the same products. It felt a bit like we were stuck in a time loop! There were also some stalls selling cutlery and other metal things made from old bombs/landmines which was interesting.
Later that evening we headed through the night market again for dinner and found a lovely parade of shops. The buildings were all wooden and you got a real sense of the French Colonial influence.
The next morning we hailed a tuk tuk and took a trip to the Pak Ou caves. It took quite a while to get there including 9km along a bumpy road but we made it. There was no-one around, just some chickens and the men selling ferry tickets to take you to the caves. We boarded our boat and crossed the Mekong river. The landscape was incredible!
When we arrived at the caves, we went to the lower caves first, which was actually still up loads of steep stairs. The cave was filled with hundreds of Buddha statuettes that had been brought by local people. Some of them were so high up!
So that was the ‘lower’ cave, where’s the upper cave?
Oh lordy, it was about 35 degrees and we were climbing up a never ending, slightly decrepit stairwell. Also, we were the only ones! There was a man at the top selling cold water, which was very much appreciated. We must have looked a right state! After recovering, we headed inside.
It was really dark but there were yet more statues inside.
I think the best thing about this place was the view!
In the evening, legs aching from the hundreds of stairs…we went to find a restaurant that had been recommended by our hostel owner, Lao Lao Gardens. It was good but the service was awful, what saved it was the setting, we sat out in the garden and it was full of candles and twinkly lights. Next door to this place was a gorgeous bookshop/café called L’etranger and we decided to go back there the next day.
We then made our way to another recommended place called Utopia, a bar alongside the river. It was full of chilled-out backpackers drinking Beer Lao and swapping stories. It was great! We spent a couple of hours there.
The next day we took a minibus to the Kuang Xi waterfall, it was a bit of a grey day but still warm. As we walked up to the falls, we passed through a bear conservation area and saw the bears foraging for their treats.
They seemed to be very happy, most had been rescued from poachers or saved after injury but this place looked after them and raised awareness.
We then made our way towards the waterfall, passing several swimming areas on the way. The water was so clear, it was beautiful!
Fortunately we had a chance to see it in all its glory before more tourists descended and starting climbing up on it.
When we got back, we headed to the bookshop that we’d found and did some research about getting to Cambodia. We both enjoyed a pot of tea too! We booked our flights and accommodation for the next day and then made our way to the market for some dinner. We weren’t that hungry so decided on some street food, pork and vegetable dumplings with chilli sauce and I also picked up some of the coconut cake things that I’d tried in Chiang Mai. We went back to the Utopia bar for a drink before heading back to the room to pack.
We both really liked Luang Prabang, there are temples everywhere and orange-clothed monks walking the streets under umbrellas. It was much quieter and more serene than Thailand but there was still a good atmosphere. Also, the coffee was really good, I’d heard that Lao coffee was meant to be great before coming away but it was so nice to have an iced coffee that packed a punch!
I’m definitely going back to Laos as I’d like to see what the capital city, Vientiane is like in comparison as well as revisiting Luang Prabang.