Mutter the words ‘Luang Prabang’ to any other traveller in Laos and most will reel with delight. A town that nearly all who stop by it simply love.
When I arrived, I had high expectations of the UNESCO world heritage site, based on all the stories I had heard and read. And, I must say, it is a delightful place and didn’t disappoint. Achingly pretty in some parts, not at all garish and very quaint. Set alongside the Mekong river, with a thriving night market and beautiful architecture, I can see why so many people rate this place so highly.
That does mean, naturally, that Luang Prabang comes with hordes and hordes of tourists from all corners of the globe. If you are after a quiet and quintessentially Laos retreat, consider somewhere different. If you are happy enough to share the town with more Westerners than local people, head here. Due to the huge number of tourists passing by, there are a wealth of options when it comes to accommodation and dining. Though it’s slightly more expensive than some other, less popular towns in Laos, cheap rooms and cheap meals are still easy enough to come by. If you want to go down the other end of the spectrum, 5 star hotels, with a 5 star price tag alongside high-class restaurants are just as easy to find.
In terms of things to see and do, aside from wandering around the pretty streets and spending too much in the lovely night market (a far cry from Siem Reap’s somewhat tacky night market) there are museums to visit and a whole wealth of activities outside of the centre, such as visits to caves, waterfalls, elephants etc. We visited the Kuang Si waterfalls, which are stunningly blue and quite a sight for sore eyes. At 30 km away from town, they make a nice morning trip and provide a good place to escape the heat of the town.
After 4 nights, it was time to move on. Bound for Thailand, we made our way to the slow boat to relish in the opportunity to relax and float down the Mekong…