To be honest, Laos was never on my travel bucket list and I didn’t know much about this small Southeast Asian country. However, when I knew I had to leave China’s border because of my visa situation at the time, I was attracted by all the great images I saw online. It seemed to be a paradise with French and Buddhist influences. Little did I know that Laos, and specifically its ancient capital Luang Prabang, would become one of the most memorable places I had ever been to.
If you are looking for unique gifts for friends and yourself and local deliciousness, the night market in Luang Prabang should definitely be your hot spot. Local vendors offer goods, such as T-Shirts with Lao prints, bags, hand-made scarves, lights, tea and anything you can think of, for cheap right here.
Don’t be surprised if you see whole families including babies sitting at the market and trying to sell goods – even late at night. Don’t forget to bargain and you will have the time of your life! Get a tuk-tuk right to the oldtown where the night market is located every night.
Kuang Si Waterfall
Even though the Kuang Si Waterfall is one of the most visited attractions around Luang Prabang (23 km from the city), it’s well worth visiting. Be sure to bring a bathing suit and splash in the picturesque turquoise water freshly coming down from the mountains above you.
Even if you don’t want to swim, master your way along the path to the top viewing platform of the falls. It’s the perfect spot to take a picture! The entrance fee of the waterfall park is only 20,000 Kip ($2.40). You can reach the park by taking a tuk-tuk or booking a shuttle from your hotel or hostel.
I can highly recommend staying at Villa Laodeum Nam Khan View, where the staff organized all of our trips and activities during our stay!
Oldtown by Bike
Who could resist renting a bike to explore the 1000 year old city? The price is at $2 per day per bike and can be parked anywhere in town.
Cruise along the mighty Mekong or go on a temple tour riding from one hot spot to another. When in Luang Prabang, temples can be spotted at almost every corner of the city.
If you are in for something spectacular, be sure to wake up early and make your way to a nearby temple at around 7am to see monks collecting alms for the day from the locals.
Lao Cooking Class
The way to the heart is through the stomach – and this is even true for falling in love with countries or cultures. Lao food is similar to its neighbors’ cuisines (Thai and Viet food) but still has some unique ingredients or dishes you can only find there. What better way to embrace Lao culture and food than taking a cooking class?
I took an evening cooking class at the Tamnak Lao Restaurant where I learned how to make 3 Lao dishes, I received a Lao recipe book and was taught by a professional Lao chef who has his own restaurant in downtown Luang Prabang – everything for only $20!
The whole course took 2 hours and included dinner! If you decide to do the morning course, you get 4 hours and they even take you to a local Lao market to pick out the ingredients! It’s absolutely worth it!
Mekong River Cruise
The mighty Mekong is one of the longest rivers in Asia and flows down from Tibet through China’s Yunnan province, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The Mekong is of huge significance for agriculture and infrastructure in Laos.
A half-day river cruise on the Mekong takes you along the mighty river to several coastal regions around Luang Prabang where you can buy home-made rice liquor, scarves and visit the famous Pak Ou Buddha Caves.
The whole cruise was only $20 and included a delicious local lunch right on the boat! The best thing was that I visited during low season so my mom and I had the entire boat almost to ourselves!
When are you planning to visit Laos?