Laos Part 2: Luang Prabang → Vang Vieng → Vientiane
We arrived off the boat in Luang Prabang, and were lucky enough to spend three nights in this wonderful city, plenty of time to explore and get a flavour of authentic Laos culture. We went to the Kuang Si waterfalls, ate the best meal of the trip so far at a Laos family’s home, wandered the beautiful night market every night to pick up more travelling essentials (scrunchies and elephant make up bags, hello), drank iced coffee on roof top terraces, and got up at dawn to give the local monks alms on their way to temple. We also had a quick visit to a museum about the bombing of Laos during the Vietnam War; something very important to be informed about seeing as there are still some 80,000 unexploded bombs in the Laos countryside and everyday somebody is killed or injured due to one. Overall we loved the chilled vibe of Luang Prabang, and were definitely sad to leave.
On our way to our next destination we stayed at a village homestay about 20 minutes from Vang Vieng. We were treated to more amazing home-cooked food, plus a dance performance from the village children which was, needless to say, extremely cute. In Vang Vieng it was a change of pace as we went tubing and kayaking for the day – floating through dark caves on rubber rings (not dangerous at all) and then paddling down the Nam Song river in the afternoon, stopping off at a couple of the riverside bars. Obviously due to water, I don’t have many photos of this (although my kayaking partner will tell you that I definitely tried) but it was such a beautiful and unique experience. Vang Vieng is famous for being a very unlikely party town, and after an evening clubbing in the most random bar with the most random collection of people, I can’t say that I disagree. I even now have a Sakura Bar Vang Vieng tshirt which has turned into a game to see how many other people wearing the tshirt you can see around SE Asia. Note: it’s actually quite a lot, and definitely a conversation starter.
Our last stop in Laos was the capital, Vientiane, which unfortunately we didn’t get to see that much of because a) we were there only for one night and b) it was really unexpectedly cold and this was not conducive to sight-seeing. We did, however, get to see the Buddha Park and the Victory Gate, and enjoy the relatively quiet city before the hustle and bustle of Hanoi.
We really had no expectations or preconceptions about our week in Laos, and it’s definitely fair to say that this wonderful country has well and truly blown us away with its beauty, its people and its culture. I really hope to be back some day to see some more.