I had always heard amazing things about Laos but had also always wanted to travel near beaches and the water. I am so glad we found time this trip to spend a week in Luang Prabang and surrounds. Now I just want to back and explore more parts.
7 days was the perfect amount of time to see the main attractions around Luang Prabang and also take a side trip up a river off the Mekong to see rural life and the amazing scenery Laos seems packed with. For anyone planning a trip hopefully the below is helpful. Just expand beneath the photos. For more details on exactly what we paid, where we stayed or how we got around just contact me via the form and I can share our travel planner.
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We hired a private boat (300,000) to head up to the Pak Ou caves. A two hour trip up the Mekong gave us a great chance to see the river and the life that ran alongside it. The caves were a short walk up a cliff side to two sacred caves filled to the brim with Buddha statues. We then enjoyed the 1 hour return trip before a very, very lunch at chilled out lunch at Utopia. Thanks to Moira for the recommendation! That night took a bamboo bridge walkway across a river to Dyai Sabai which sat about the river and apart from beautiful food had beautiful views.
We wouldn’t be doing Luang Prabang justice without getting up early to quietly watch the alms giving and then explore some of the stunning temples around the town. We then spent some of the afternoon at the UXO Information Centre understanding a bit about the unexploded ordances left behind after the US bombings. Most horrific is simply the large amount still left - people, and mostly children are being killed each day by them. Many look like small metal tennis balls which is why so many children pick them up.
Today we headed out to the Kuang Si waterfalls where Rob walked up to the top of them and we all jumped in. Everyone loved the natural fish foot spa!
My mum arrived last night from her own Vietnam and Cambodia tour and we had a quiet coffee and exploring morning before our prebooked Mandolao Elephant Sanctuary adventure https://mandalaotours.com/ So far this has been the highlight of everyone’s trip. We spent a unforgettable afternoon learning about the harm inflicted by elephant riding before getting to spend some special hands on time with two of the rescued 9 at the sanctuary.
We headed up a river off the Mekong to Nong Kiau a very small town on the banks of the Nam Ou river. The souring mountain and sheer cliff drops are breathtaking and our hotel had the best view of the flowing river and peaks alongside. It was very chilled out and nice to just all hang out.
Today we hired another private boat and went exploring further up the river. We stopped at a tiny one street town and I was able to buy a scarf from the maker (I think). The loom was even sitting in a corner.
Olivia was sick so after chilling out at the hotel we went straight to the airport and said our goodbyes as Mum had a final night in Luang Prabang before her flight on to Sydney.
Activity Mandolao Elephant Sanctuary from $80 US https://mandalaotours.com/
Accomodation: Villa Oasis Luang Prabang and Nong Kiau Riverside, Nong Kiau
Transport: Private van for longer trips and tuk tuks off the street for others.
Best Restaurants: Our top three were cheap and delicious at Phonheaung cafe. Riverside Lao steamboat at Dyen Sabai - food amazing but the fairy light lit bamboo bridge crossing also added to the magic. And Bamboo Tree bear the river for more authentic Lao food. We loved the lemongrass fried and stuffed with chicken here.