Southeast Asia Trip Report: Luang Prabang, Laos
We finally started rehashing our three-week Southeast Asia trip that happened about three months ago. So far we’ve shared about our three days in Chiang Mai, our Mekong River slow boat experience, and today we’re reflecting on our three days in beautiful Luang Prabang, Laos. Stay tuned for more from our days in Asia — including all of our time in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Luang Prabang, one of the largest cities in the small country of Laos, was our favorite city in Southeast Asia.
There, we said it.
Want to know why?
Ambiance, food, views, and activities.
(And low prices, but that’s pretty common in Southeast Asia)
Like we mentioned in last week’s recap of our slow boat journey from Thailand to Luang Prabang, adding Laos to our three-week Southeast Asia itinerary was a last-minute decision. We hadn’t been able to find too much information about visiting this part of the region. We knew our time was limited, so we originally were set on just sticking to the typical Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam trifecta.
We are so so so glad we decided to go to Laos.
After spending some time in Chiang Mai then traveling across Northern Thailand into Laos, we thought we had a good idea of what the typical Southeast Asian city would be like. Luang Prabang shattered those expectations (and caused us to long for the city after we had left and encountered bigger bustling, crowded cities like Phnom Penh and Hanoi)
Luang Prabang had such a chill ambiance. It was a sleepier city than most others we encountered during our three weeks, and the people we met were so kind and hospitable. But beyond the vibe, we also fell in love with this city because of its sights and activities.
(And food! We each had a fruit smoothie every day)
Be sure to read our trip report below for all the details. We could not have felt more at home than in Luang Prabang.
How we got there:
We wrote all about our very positive experience on the slow boat from Thailand to Laos in last week’s post. From the boat dock, it was an easy truck taxi into town within walking distance of our guesthouse.
Where we stayed:
We found a great family-run guesthouse called Souk Lan Xang ($20/night) on HostelWorld located in the Old City, between the river and the night market (which is a great location!) It is a small guesthouse, with several private rooms and a community kitchen. Our room had a fantastic bed, a clean bathroom, and a strong air conditioner. Every morning we took a walk along the river and found a cafe for breakfast, and every evening we walked up to the night market. It was the perfect place to stay.
What we did:
In typical Donelson fashion, we filled our time in Luang Prabang, but left spaces for enjoying the laid-back flavor of Luang Prabang. Every morning, we took in the beautiful views along the Mekong River. Every evening, we walked to the night market for dinner (they had a great buffet spread!) and perusing the beautiful fabrics. Our main activity one day was to take a long guided trek through the country to Kuang Si Falls, which to this day might be the best waterfall we have ever seen. We also took in a culture show, climbed the steps up to Mount Phousi for sunset, and took a slow boat ferry across the river one morning to visit three more small temples (one of which is in a cave!) We also participated in an alms-giving ceremony one morning (which was supposed to be authentic and moving, but read more to us as touristy and slightly overrated). Before our flight to Cambodia, we relaxed at the popular tourist restaurant and bar Utopia.
What we spent:
$20/night for two nights in a guesthouse private room, $28/each for our full-day hiking and waterfall trek, $1-3 for street food and $3-5 for restaurant food. For three days of lodging, food, transportation, and loads of activities, we spent a total of $131.
Considering adding Laos onto your Southeast Asia itinerary? With its chill vibes, friendly faces, and plethora of activities, we’d highly recommend it!