Through the eight hours of mountainous twists and turns between Vang Vieng, Laos, and Luang Prabang, we asked ourselves: “Would ‘The Most Beautiful City in Southeast Asia’ live up to the hype?”
And there has been a LOT of hype about Luang Prabang, Laos. The most poignant, perhaps, was a friend on one of those whirlwind All-of-Southeast-Asia-in-30-days package trips who had a mere twenty
-four hours to see the city. “I just wanted to STAY there!” he sighed, tears in his eyes. “They nearly had to drag me onto the boat out. Mark my words, though — I’m going back someday soon!”
In hour four, our bus stopped at a shed outhouse… with a monkey eating a Pepsi can outside! The monkey whispered: “If I were in Luang Prabang, the food would be better.”
Back on the bus. In hour six, we paused again for a bathroom break so short, only three of the sixty bus folks could successfully pee. The Lao schoolchildren biking miles and miles to their morning lessons waved to us and seemed to say: “We wish we were going to Luang Prabang instead of to third grade!”
Night fell, pebbles ground beneath the bus tires, and we arrived in the city UNESCO has called a World Heritage Site.
It was dark, so we chose the first guest house that propositioned us, dropped off our stuff, and went to sleep.
In the morning: glory be!! We threw open the doors to glittering sunshine upon lush green leaves, pink flowers, orange-robed monks, golden temples, serene rivers, and the most delicious assortment of cute little cafes in history.
Luang Prabang is everything it is said to be, and more. What a place!!
Luang Prabang is nestled between the blue Nham Kahn river on one side, and the chocolate Mekong on the other. At the tip of the city, you can see the two colors swirl together as the rivers meet. At this point you can also indulge in spectacular French-Lao cuisine at the furthest of the hundreds of riverside eateries.
The bottom line is that there is loads to do in gorgeous Luang Prabang, from strolling the clean, quiet streets and stuffing your face with heaven, to taking waterfall excursions, to hill treks or elephant treks, to seeing holy shrines, to getting delightful massages, to purchasing hand-crafted tapestries and souvenirs in the many colorful marketplaces.
Our guidebook suggests four days, minimum, in this beautiful place, but we’ll see how much longer my euphoric tummy and eyes demand that I stay.
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!