Everyone said they never wanted to leave Luang Prabang. I was already having so much fun in Vientiane, and after an 11-hour very scenic bus travel, I could not wait to see it with my own eyes.
First word that comes to my mind when I think of Luang Prabang is how laid back it is. Especially the Old Quarter has this kind of carefree feeling that once you get there, you want to slow down, maybe sit at a cafe, order a cold drink and get some rest. And believe me, after a couple of months of nonstop traveling, it is a nice change of pace.
Luang Prabang is tiny. It is easy to see the influence of French architecture, there are many many Buddhist temples and it has stunning lush natural landscape. And did I mention the temples? I have seen many Buddhist temples in Asia, but the ones in Luang Prabang are some of the most beautiful.
By the way, it is laid back but there is so much to do – but only if you want to. First, there are 33 temples to see. Then, there is the Royal Palace ( it was the ancient royal capital after all). Outside of the town you can go and swim in a waterfall; and you can also ride an elephant, among other things! Or, you may just hang out with fellow travelers, drink Beerlao the way locals do – with ice; lazily move from cafe to cafe that are surrounded by lush greens and listen to birds singing, get a foot massage with a drink in your hand overlooking the Mekong river, or go get yourself some snake juice that is supposed to be lengthening your life (good idea not to try it sober)…
One of the sacred Lao traditions is the Alms Giving Ceremony. Every morning at sunrise, monks all over the town come to the Main Street, also to some other streets to gather their daily meal. Locals bring cooked rice and other food items, kneel down and offer their gifts to monks. It is such a peaceful scene, however it feels almost wrong to be there and watch it as a tourist. It is certainly not a tourist attraction; it is spiritual and we as tourists should be respectful (sadly some people don’t seem to get that).
Walking around the Luang Prabang streets is such a relaxing activity. The easygoing and warm attitude of the Laotioans make the day even more enjoyable.
I would have to say that a short trip to the waterfalls and swimming in the cool water was also so good. It is so hot and humid there, this was a great way to cool down.