Charming Luang Prabang

Laos is a bit of an enigmatic country for me. A small, landlocked country with a tiny population, an abundance of culture, a colonial history, a present communist government, the most bombed country on earth, not so touristy but extremely so on the other hand. I didn’t know a lot about it so let’s just say I was eager to explore.

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First thing to do in Laos after crossing the border from Thailand is to take one of the famous Beerlao. I happened to like it which was good because it makes up over 90% of the beer in the country; to get anything else is impossible or very expensive
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Arriving in Luang Prabang after a long sleeper bus was like waking up in a dream. Being a part of the former French Indochina it’s possible to get great baguettes and coffee but be surrounded by beautiful Buddhist temples 🙂
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And also fantastic pastries
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Nice Art Deco buildings are mixed up with old temples and monasteries
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Luang Prabang worked its charm on me and it certainly helped that I arrived on a Sunday when the town was quiet and peaceful and the main street happened to be closed to traffic
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I found some temples impossibly beautiful. This is the Haw Pha Bang

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So many Buddhas. Most here are in the rain pose, that is with both arms at the side pointing downward
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Intricate gold designs
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Wat Xieng Thong; one of the most famous temples in the country
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I shared a beer (obviously a Beerlao) with some people I met in the hostel and we watched an absolutely stunning sunset over the Mekong River
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Outside the city, the Kuang Si waterfalls are a must-see. The colour of the water is hard to believe
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The naturally forming pools are almost too perfect. The words “tropical paradise” spring to mind
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Monks are a common sight in Luang Prabang
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A second stunning sunset over the Mekong
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After Luang Prabang it was time to visit Vang Vieng; the (in)famous town on the way to Vientiane
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Vang Vieng was known in the backpacker world for river tubing. In its heyday (darkest days) people would float down the river stopping to party at the 20-odd bars along the way. The inevitable deaths lead the authorities to close it down in 2012. Now its calmer version only has 3 bars. It’s a nice way to spend an afternoon floating on a river with a cold beer in hand
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The landscape surrounding Vang Vieng is full of stunning limestone karst formations (I’ve definitely used stunning too many times in this post but it’s a surprisingly apt word). The natural beauty is a nice contrast to the craziness of the town e.g. opium pizzas etc.

Next up: Vientiane

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