Having just finished a few weeks traveling through Laos with my buddy Matt I’ve come to the conclusion that Luang Prabang was by far my favourite stop off.
In fact I’d not really planned Laos so I indulged my spontaneous side for a chage and simply moved on as I felt fit. I’d heard nothing of Lubang Prabang prior to arriving – bar the odd bit of backpacker banter on the slow boat – so I wasn’t really sure what to expect from my first taste of Laos.
Quiet and Relaxed
After a rather hectic few weeks including a mental receptionist hitting me in Pai and heaps of reggae fuelled carnage in Chang Mai LP immediately struck me as more laid back.
After filling a guest house to capacity with our slow boat buddies and some seriously good bartering skills on Matts part we had a walk around.
LP is pretty small in comparison to alot of places I’ve visited and I was happy about that fact. It was easy to navigate and everything was within a 10 minute walk of our accommodation – so the only tuk tuks I’d be taking were to attractions outside town and on drunken nights out!
The town centre is a quiet street of restaurants, places to book onward travel/tours and a rabble of street stalls selling baguettes and fruit smoothies, all nicely nestled a stones through from the Mekong River.
During the night the main street closes down and becomes a bustling night market where people sell all manner of food and trinkets – and unlike it’s Thai neighbor you don’t get hassled whilst you peruse, a much welcome change!
Until The Night…!
In the evenings the bars begin to pack out with backpackers from around the city. The main point of call being Utopia Bar (which sells some epic food during the day might I add, possibly the best in Laos!) and laid back bar where mats on the floor, chilled music and good company fill the bar and outside area – all decorated with bombs turned tables, flower pots and lightshades, a new school way to display Laos rather abused past.
The parculiar thing about LP nightlife is that most of the bars shut after 11pm. So you find yourself intoxicated and wanting to party. You have 3 main options. 2 Laos nightclubs (which are a rather odd experience!) or the more favoured option…the bowling alley.
Yup a short tuk tuk across town in the seeming middle of nowhere there’s a shack. Opening the doors to enter you find a bizzare world – a pristine american style bowking alley packed to the rafters with drunken backpackers bowling and drinking!
It’s certainly one of the most unique and fun nights I’ve had in a while!
LP has enough to keep you busy during the day too though.
The town has many temples (if you’re not already templed out by the time you reach it!) including one on the hilltop which offers great views of the surrounding area and is a great place to enjoy a sunset.
If you can hack it get up at 5am for the Monks going round the streets collecting donations of food and money – it makes for some great pictures and is a rewarding bit of culture.
I made it there by default after pulling an all nighter of partying goodness!
By far my favourite thing in LP was the waterfalls though. In fact it’s been one of my major highlights of Asia so far and is my standout part of Laos by a long shot.
About 40mins out of town lies a series of waterfalls and pools, of the most gorgeous blue, clear water. Rope swings, jumps and a cool dip in the balmy heat are sure to put you in a good mood – we rustled up a good crew to keep the cost down (it’s not too cheap but you can get it for around 40,000 kip per person (about £4!) and it’s well worth it – I went back two days in a row!
Make sure you take your camera and head up to the top waterfall for some great snaps.
I spent just over 5 days in LP but could have easily stayed longer – and I would’ve had I know how much of a mess Vang Vieng would turn out to be.
You can make it your first stop after the slow boat from Chang Mai or head up from Vang Vieng on your way out of Laos, it’s about a 4 hour mini bus journey, but it usually takes longer than that!
Whichever way round you do it give it a healthy time budget to work with. It’s a great place to recharge your batteries with a splash of partying thrown in if you feel like it!