Okay, hi. So, Laos was one of those countries that has always intrigued me and I had no idea why. I will just tell you: if you’re intrigued by this country…GO.
If Thailand is the popular girl at school who gets all the attention, Laos is the naturally beautiful, but shy and artsy girl who gets noticed by the class president/mathlete/quarterback in the end of the cheesy 80s romcom. Thailand, although I love it, is getting drenched in tourism. Laos hasn’t been ruined just yet.
I was in the country for three and half days (almost four) and three nights which was enough to do and see a lot!
Here’s what I did:
I flew from Seoul to Vientiane and really only had time to check in and go to sleep. I booked a room at Green Park Boutique Hotel for under $80USD and was so impressed! It’s not super close to the city center but there is a free shuttle that runs hourly, and a ride into the city will cost you $5 and 10 minutes of your time
We woke up and had a yummy breakfast (Mango jam is a thing in Laos and I was loving it!!) We headed to Pha That Luang.
Pha That Luang is a large gold plated Buddhist temple in the city center. What I was most surprised about, is that the grounds definitely do not contain just this one stupa, but actually a series of MANY buildings, temples and sculptures. I highly recommend!
Next, was our flight to Luang Prabang!
Upon arrival, we checked into one of the best hotels I have ever stayed at in my entire life. For approximately $100 USD/night, you can stay in a beautiful resort that is build on a UNESCO preserved lotus flower lagoon. The staff was BEYOND helpful. PLEASE stay at Maison Dalabua. You will not regret it.
After checking in, we headed to Sa Sa Sunset Cruise to take a sunset cruise along the Mekong River. The tour itself costs 85,000 Laotian KIP which is under $10USD for a two hour boat ride. I recommend going with a friend or a partner so that you can chat and enjoy the ride. The tour comes with a complimentary mojito that is served upon boat take off.
After the cruise, we headed to the infamous Luang Prabang Night Market. I will note at this point, this is my TENTH Asian country and this is probably one of my favorite night markets for unique and adorable goods. Laos does textiles well so scarfs and blankets can be found in abundance but this market is LARGE and you can find a lot here!
Okay, this is where things get interesting. We woke up SO EARLY because I booked this bomb tour on Viator. We experienced the Morning Alms Giving Ceremony which has apparently been tainted by tourists. In my experience, it wasn’t “tainted,” but it did seem a little rushed and routine. After taking with my tour guide, I learned the monks and monk nominees do this EVERY SINGLE DAY and some of the younger ones do this in exchange for education. This experience humbled me so greatly. I obtained a bachelors degree by 23 years old. Do I have student loan debt? Yes. Do I have a job that is able to pay on my loans significantly? Yes. Did I HAVE TO BEG FOR WHITE RICE SILENTLY ON THE STREETS EVERYDAY FOR YEARS?!?! No…
After the Alms giving ceremony, our guide brought us through the Phousi Night Market. Bro…this was SURREAL. It’s a must do walk through because I’ve never seen grilled squirrel or snake being sold for consumption…Honestly, I was so overwhelmed, I can’t even recall more than that.
After all this, we went back and napped.
THEN we went to probably my favorite business in all of Luang Prabang: Bouang Asian Eatery.
Not only was the food delicious, but it was also the aesthetic of the place was so great!
Then, we took a trip to explore some of the temples in Luang Prabang. There are 35 so it’s best to walk through the streets and find the best! We opted for a walk towards the very end of the street to Wat Xieng Thong.
Next, we made the one hour trek to Kuang Si Waterfalls. Note the plural falls. There are fall sections of the falls and one LARGE drop off at the very end. I kept thinking we were looking at it and our guide kept reminding us to keep going! The water was gorgeous and although crowded, the trip was well worth it!
On the way home, we stopped for ice cream made from BUFFALO dairy. It was super bizarre but a nice little pit stop on the way. I had the coffee flavor & I enjoyed it!
We came back, freshened up and headed to the night market for more souvenirs. It takes a least an hour to walk through every stand at the market.
We woke up really early again and hiked a mountain. Yes…me…I woke up really early to hike a mountain. It wasn’t actually a mountain…it was a few steps that took less than $2 and 5 minutes.
After that, we grabbed a quick coffee at Saffron Coffee when they opened at 6:45am. I wish I had more time there, but this would be an incredible place for a mid-afternoon pick me up along the river.
We then headed to Utopia for morning yoga along the Mekong River. Utopia is such an interesting location: “zen in the day” & “funky at night” is the establishment’s catch phrase. I think it perfectly describes the atmosphere. Yoga class was less than $10USD and great for beginners or experienced yogis. I feel as though I am somewhere in the middle and I enjoyed the class and the atmosphere.
After, we ate breakfast & took a little nap at the hotel…
Then headed to catch our flight back to Vientiane.
Once in Vientiane, we headed to get massages! They are not very expensive in Laos, or anywhere in Southeast Asia. Apparently, Laotian massage is painful unless you opt for the oil type, so we paid about $25USD for an hour of citrusy goodness.