LAOS 2017

LAOS 2017
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Truth be told, we didn't spend a lot of time outside Luang Prabang.

*quickly hides face with hands*
*tentatively peeks out between fingers*

Still with me? Okay, good.

A slew of reasons, really. Although the Kuang Si Falls was the only recreational activity that piqued my interest. Ultimately it was Vince's voice of reason that won: We just saw a bunch of waterfalls in Croatia! True. Scratch that. The rest of the choices were nixed for obvious reasons. The Elephant Village and Mahout Training. We probably had a better elephant experience in Sri Lanka. Although that Mahout training does sound mighty interesting. Riding elephants? No, thanks. Pak Ou Caves. A lazy boat ride down the Mekong River and stumbling upon a cave filled with thousands of Buddhas? Sure! But alas, further research proves that it has become a tourist trap.

Yes, our entire week was spent in the ancient city of Luang Prabang itself. Early mornings and late evenings were the times when we ventured out into the city. Temple hopping and sightseeing by day, sunset chasing and market haggling by night. During the hottest part of the day was when we dutifully worked away until the heat became bearable.

I really like it here in Luang Prabang. I would even go as far as to say that it has stolen Jin's Favorite Asian City title from Hoi An. Don't get me wrong! I still very much love Hoi An. It's one of the prettiest Asian cities I have ever laid my eyes on. But when it really comes down to it, Hoi An's mass tourism and elbow-to-elbow crowds is off-putting. What part of Old Town Hoi An is even authentic anymore? It's hard to tell.

Not to say that Luang Prabang isn't touristy. But it's nowhere as super crazy touristy as Hoi An. I love the fact that Luang Prabang's Night Food Market still has that nitty gritty adventurous spirit. The chaotic scene is a treat for the foodie senses. The Night Market (aka Hmong Night Market), on the other hand, is one of the cleanest in SE Asia. Shopping and haggling here is a joy! No pushy vendors and the tourist crowds is a right kind of crowded. And of course, you only have to venture outside the touristy area to find really affordable restaurants. (Go to Atsalin Restaurant for cheap eats!)

Though that Phousi Temple is a nightmare to be at during sunset. Stay clear of it! We thought we could find a good spot to catch that sunset glow. We were wrong. Not only did we exhaust ourselves from the 15-20 minute climb up, we also wasted money on the entrance fee. We found the hard way that the temple complex at the very top is uber small. And so crowded that we didn't even get to see the actual sunset! Save the effort and money. Go instead to the nearest boat port. Views are free! There, you have a clear view of the sun dipping below the mountains AND you get to watch the locals ride the water taxi to and fro.

Oh, Luang Prabang. There's something about this place. Touristy, yes. Super duper touristy? Getting there. But before it does, I'm glad we came. I know it'll only become even more crazier in the near future.

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When: Late Febrary / Early March 2017
Temp: 85-95 F
Cities: Luang Prabang
Stay: Nocknoy Lanexang

Food: Food stalls, Night Food Market, Atsalin Restaurant
Recommended in Luang Prabang: 5am Tak Bat (Morning Alms Ceremony), Temple Hopping (Wat Xieng Thong is a must), Bamboo Bridge, Walk along the Mekong River, Morning Market, Phousi Market, Night Market.
Recommended Day Trips: Elephant Village and Mahout Training (Or do research to find an elephant company that is right for you. Riding on top of elephants is a controversial topic among travelers.), Kuang Si Falls, Pak Ou Caves.



- jin -