Speaking of travlling to Laos, most people in Asia will start asking, ‘What is there in Laos?’ ‘What are you going to do in Laos?’. Thanks to the Korean TV show ‘Youth Over Flowers’, we get to know about Luang Prabang but it’s definitely a wonderful small city to explore!
Day 1 – Airport transfer to Hotel
Luang Prabang International Airport is really small, if you can imagine an airport with only 2 boarding gates, yeah, it’s just that mini, looks like the on in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Phone Data Sim Card
Getting out from the immigration, you will come to the exit where there are a few booths before the exit that sells Phone Data Simcard, if you afraid that you don’t have any local Laos Kip to pay, you can pay by Thai Baht or US dollar.
If you didn’t manage to get it in airport, you may get it from any convenient stores. It’s about 10,000kip (RM 5) for the SIM, choose from dedicated internet SIM and the package are mostly like below:
- About $1.50 (RM5) for 1.5GB/7days
- About $6 (RM 30) for 5GB/1 month
- About $20 (RM 100) for 15GB/1 month
Money Changer in Luang Prabang Airport
After the exiting the arrival hall, there’s a money changer right in front of you where you can exchange for local kip, best to exchange in airport because the rates are better than in town.
Airport Transfer Ticket Counter
Beside money changer, it’s the airport taxi counter where you can purchase your airport transfer ticket, it cost 45,000kip (RM 22.50) for 3 pax.
Once you’re ready, follow your driver and ready to roll! It takes about 30minutes to reach our hotel, it wasn’t that far from airport, about 5km away.
Checked in Namkhan Riverside Hotel
The hotel that I stayed was next to Namkhan River, the connecting river to Mekong River, it’s at the leg of Phousi Hill. Strategically located in the secondary happening street in Luang Prabang, within 5 minutes walking distance to the left you will see a lot of bars, pubs & restaurants.
It’s about $20 (RM 90) per night for a double room in Namkhan Riverside Hotel included breakfast.
Luang Prabang Night Market
When I said Luang Prabang is a small town, I meant it, well maybe is not a small city, but the central is really small and you will be able to do a city walking tour on your own.
The small river in the map is Khan River, Namkhan River Hotel is along the river and it’s pretty central. Walking distance to Night Market is about 200 meters.
The night market getting crowded at 6pm to 7pm, selling mostly handcrafts and is a good place or probably the only place for you to get souvenirs. Along the street you will be able to find bars & restaurants as well and of course on the first night, we went on the local food market street that is located in the night market.
Day 2 – Chillax at Utopia Cafe & City Walk
Waking up in the morning and had our breakfast at the hotel and then we start the day by walking to this amazing cafe bar named Utopia!
Utopia Luang Prabang
Utopia is just another 200 meters walk from our hotel and when you reach the junction, there will be a signboard for direction.
The cafe bar is famous for it’s exquisite interior, very chill and relax beside Khan River.
You will get to hang beside the tree-house like seating, beer is relatively cheap here so yeah, don’t forget to order a drink when you visit this place.
Luang Prabang City Walk
After spending a good 3 hours at Utopia Cafe Bar, we went for a city walk, refering to the map above, if you follow the path of Khan River, you will be making a roundabout walk as shown in the map, a U-shape of Khan River connecting Mekong river.
Along the side Mekong River, the street is fill with nice cafes and also the popular temple like Wat Xiengthong.
You may make a stop at any of the cafe or restaurant for lunch and continue the city walk back to the Royal Palace, which is also the night market street.
Evening Hike to Phousi Hill
Right at where I’m standing, opposite the Royal Palace is the entrance to Phousi Hill, everyone will be climbing up to Phousi Hill for their spectacular Sunset, so beat the crowd and go up by 5.30pm. Entrance fee to Phousi Hill is 15,000kip ($2) and it take 328 steps to reach the top, it’s not a tough hike, pretty easy one if you can walk slowly, you can make it within 35 minutes.
Day 3 – Day Tour to River Cruise/Pak Ou Cave/Laos Village/Elephant Ride/Kuangsi Waterfall
We spent $42 per pax for a day tour out of Luang Prabang city. This tour covers a river cruise to Pak Ou Cave, an elephant ride and to Kuangsi Waterfall. Forget about Laos Village because it wasn’t really a tour to be frank, you just walked by the village to reach to the river cruise port, that’s it. Nothing fancy and you will be dissapointed if you looking forward for a real Laos Village tour, look for alternatives.
First stop – River cruise to Pak Ou Cave
Cruise along the Mekong River, nothing special really, just a cave with different Buddha Statue, suggest to skip if you had done something similar in Vietnam or Thailand.
Next is Elephant Ride
I wouldn’t say this is something great to do, the elephants seems quite well treated but once I got on the elephant, I felt guilty and regretful, probably first & last elephant ride in my life. The elephant ride is a trek through the jungle road, quite ‘adventurous’ and scary but I felt guilty all the way seeing the elephant carrying 3 peoples and walk through rocky & muddy path.
Kuangsi Waterfall is beautiful but it’s a bit too crowded, good for a swim if you don’t mind sharing the natural pool with crowd.
Day 4 – Monk Morning Alms
Waking 5am and we started to walk towards the Royal Palace, looking forward for the monk morning alms giving ceremony.
By 6am, you will start seeing monks walking in group, they’re all from different Wat (temple), people prepare foods and sit by the road to giveaway foods to these monks. If you didn’t bring any foods and would like to give some, there are people selling bamboo sticky rice by the roadside.
Luang Prabang in Conclusion
If you’re looking for a relaxing & affordable short holiday, Luang Prabang is really a good place to be at, while visiting Luang Prabang in October, weather is good, not so hot & humid, cozy at night. Suggestion is go to Kuangsi Fall but don’t do the day tour, unless you want to try the Laos Village Trekking Day Tour which seems to be more fun & experential.