A haven for all travelers
Are you a “Shop-nonstop” Traveler?: If you enjoy shopping and finding unique cultural items to wear or bring back to your home Luang Prabang is the place for you! Every night, in the center of town, is a beautiful market that really showcases the artisan and workmanship of the Laos people. With its wide array of handmade bags, rugs, tablecloths, clothing items and a vibrant selection of art from local artists and jewelry from local jewelers this stands as one of the best markets in Southeast Asia.
Maybe a Family time Traveler?: If you are traveling as a family, a trip to Luang Prabang is a must! The town itself is a Unesco World Heritage Site and it is well deserved. The quaintness of the town with its French colonial architecture and delicious French and local cuisine, outlined by the raw natural beauty of the mountains and the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, all combined with the religious and cultural significance of the many Buddhist temples, makes for a trip full of appreciation. Your family will learn about this culture by celebrating it through meals, views, temple trips and adventure moments* (Kuang Si Falls in Outdoor activities). Lastly, as family travelers, the top priority is to feel safe and you will feel safe, welcomed and at peace here.
How about a Nightlife enthusiast Traveler?: If you love a good happy hour special or just enjoy late night dancing in a beautiful setting, Vang Vieng is a must visit. Every night a different bar has a special offer or happy hour and the bartenders will see that you have a good time. However, have no fear if you like to enjoy your cocktail in peace, there are plenty of bars and restaurants that have beautiful views of the river and that produce less ear drum damage.
Looking for Outdoor activities Traveler?: When you travel to Laos, you will be awe-struck by its natural beauty. For lovers of the outdoors and adventure, Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang offer ways to interact with its amazing natural elements.
Vang Vieng: For an awe-inspiring viewpoint and some cardio work, trek up Pha Nguen a steep and beautiful limestone mountain just outside of town! If you enjoy rock climbing, there are many different operators to choose from and classes for beginners up through advanced courses. Additionally, with its noted beauty, Vang Vieng is the perfect place to cruise around in a motorbike and take in the sights.
*Tubing/Kayaking: Tubing along the Nam Song River gets a lot of notoriety for being a party-only, bar crawl river. Fortunately, it can be what you make it. If you go early in the day, before 1 pm, you can float down the river and there will be very few people to get in the way of your Zen. There is also the option to kayak down the river which is a fun and active option. Conversely, if you want to meet people or hang out at the bars along the river, wait until 1 pm, and you will find that the bars and people will welcome you with open arms. Warning: Leave cameras and phones behind for this adventure, the dry bags don’t stand up to a day of tubing or kayaking (I found this out the hard way.
*Something I did not do but regret not doing was to take a hot air balloon ride. We saw signs advertising hot air balloon rides for 80 USD! An incredible deal to match the incredible view.
Luang Prabang: One of my favorite days here was adventuring around and soaking in Kuang Si Waterfalls. You hop on a song taew (wait for a group to get a better price!) and the driver will take you 45 minutes outside of town to get to the falls. Upon arrival, you enter a Sunbear sanctuary which is spacious for the bears and informative about their plight against poachers. You walk up the path and eventually see different layers of the first section of waterfalls! Continue walking and continue to be amazed by the crystal clear, cerulean colors of the water. The most fun part was jumping in, there are a lot of sections that are people friendly! You can also climb all the way up to the tippy top tier to get a good view of the landscape below. On a scale of “0-to-worth-it”, I would give it a “worth it but a tad slippery getting up”…bonus points for the tree-swing at the top.
Or maybe you’re a Retreat and Spa Traveler?: Both Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang are peaceful retreats. If you want a more peaceful location in Vang Vieng, I recommend staying a bit outside of town. There are plenty of beautiful bungalows with gardens and beautiful views. These will be located closer to Pha Nguen Mountain than to town. When in Luang Prabang, we stayed near the Nam Khan River and felt its peaceful atmosphere immediately. What is best is that the peace didn’t equate to isolation and we found the best restaurants to be in this area!
*Massage places in Laos are affordable and convenient…the price for a 1 hour Laotian massage is between $6-$10 U.S. dollars.
Overall, Laos is beckoning for all types of travelers to come and see it! Between my two favorite towns in Laos, Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng, you can experience adventure, see exquisite natural sights, and revel in Laotian cultural, artistic and religious sites and customs, all the while feeling at peace with yourself and with the choice you made to visit .
Until the next adventure!