Matt and I spent 7 blissful days in Laos – all of which in the Luang Prabang area. We didn’t initially make a ton of plans for visiting Laos which was fine since Laos lended itself to a relaxed way of plan-making.
Our time in Laos was divided up into three parts:
- Taking it easy around Luang Prabang
- Having our perspectives widened during a hill-tribe trek
- Getting a bit lost and having solo adventures across the Mekong River
Part I: Lazy Days in Luang Prabang (LP)
LP was such a delightful place to spend time in – it was small enough that it was easy to get around and there wasn’t a bunch of traffic but it was big enough to have a variety of things to see and do at a leisurely pace. Our first night in LP, we set the tone by taking it easy and having a Beer Lao and enjoying a view of the Mekong River:
A few of our favorite things:
-We volunteered a few hours one morning at Big Brother Mouse– a project with the mission of increasing literacy and spreading the love of reading in the Lao PDR. Every day (for 2X a day) they students and monks who were learning English and invited tourists to come to talk to them so they can practice their English. We spent a few hours speaking with a monk. It was a great experience as he got to practice his speaking and we got to learn more about the life of a monk and about the history/culture of Laos. He also invited us to his monastery and temple – Wat Tao Hai and we ended up taking him up on this offer and checking it out later on that day.
-We stumbled into viewing two (completely) different movies in LP. Two places (one a hotel, the other a bookstore) were screening “free movies” with the price of a drink. One night we caught, Chang- a documentary about a tribe family in Thailand. Chang was filmed in 1927 and is credited with being the first documentary ever filmed. It was actually up for an Academy Award that year. It was interesting to see the relationship between human and nature and was a good introduction to our hill-tribe hike the following day. The other was the Green Room, a thriller set in the Pacific Northwest.
-Of course, we saw a bunch of temples around town, crossed the famous Luang Prabang Bamboo Bridge, had yummy foods and wandered the night markets. One of us may have picked up a pair of “elephant pants” AKA those big Run DMC-like pants you see backpackers wearing.
<Skipping Part II – as it deserves its own post>
Part III: Chompet Hike across the Mekong
On one of days in Laos we did a self-guided hike across Mekong River called the Chompet Hike that Matt had found. On paper it seemed to be pretty straightforward- we had a trail map we found online, there were supposed to be some trail markers and there were plenty of landmarks that could help us find the way (temples galore). It was a perfect hike for us as it blended physical activity with temple exploration…and we had got to cross the Mekong River on a ferry.
Overall the hike was fun to do together- there were a few times we got turned around as some trail markers disappeared and we had our (Matt’s) good sense of direction (my biggest contribution was that my phone had a compass) and we saw a variety of temples in a quiet setting. Something that we’ve realized as we’ve been traveling for longer is that we tend to enjoy the less-crowded/touristy and quieter spots more and more. My tolerance for being called at by vendors, poked at clueless selfie-sticks and weaving through seas of tourists has dropped by ten-fold since Day 1.
All in all, Luang Prabang was wonderful to us. We saw, ate and did a lot without having to toil a lot over planning. It was both relaxing and adventurous and we’d highly recommend it to anyone. We leave with a few last shots of our time Luang Prabang (including food, because there could never be enough food-related photos)…