Luang Prabang – A Romantic Peninsula

Luang Prabang from Phousi Hill
Luang Prabang, known as Laos’ romantic city, is a peninsula straddled by two rapidly moving rivers: the mighty Mekong and milder Nam Khan. Our experience in this much beloved town was a perfect example of East meets West, with both traditional Laos architecture and numerous Buddhist temples…
…and the strong French influence with quaint accordion shutter doors (closed by a padlock of course 😉 and great French bread:
But the reputation for romance also stems from the aroma of flowers down narrow streets lined with green foliage, numerous restaurants with decks overlooking either river (where you can get very tasty fruit shakes and drinks) and, due to the large amount of French-speaking tourists who frequent Luang Prabang, hearing French spoken on the streets anytime you leave your guesthouse.
One of the things that is distinctive about Luang Prabang is the substantial population of monks, all bedecked in simple orange cloth. One of the well-known things to do here is to wake up early and watch the monks receive their alms for the day. There are reportedly over 200 monks living in Luang Prabang so this is quite the spectacle as a sea of bright orange pours onto the streets.
Another place to experience Laos tradition in Luang Prabang is the morning market, which opens at dawn, located in several connecting alleys. There we saw all kinds of shocking things like gutted frogs for sale, live animals tied up ready for slaughter, a rather large variety of insects and worms, fried rat, freshly caught fish from either of the two nearby rivers and the list goes on. Here is a more vegan-friendly display:

The market demonstrated rice being a staple of the Laos diet as at each end were big bags of it:

We could also see homemade rice cakes drying in the sun all around the neighborhood. They used sticky rice to form the shape and stuck them on to drying racks:

There were several things to experience just outside of town, such as the Kuang Si Waterfall that has a sanctuary for moon bears rescued from poachers. Check out the sanctuary’s website: Free the Bears

Our hiking adventure started with Mindy saying, “Hey I wonder what those stairs lead to”… One step led to another and before we knew it we were climbing rocks up the side of the waterfall, crossing over its very top tier, offering plenty of excitement and gorgeous views…

…and then down the other side with several wooden staircases that became part of the waterfall itself as the milky-white water spilled onto the steps. It was quite refreshing to walk through.

Life on the rivers seems abundant in Luang Prabang, making the banks a great place to people watch. On this day we watched novice monks jumping off a bamboo bridge that was in the process of being built as fishermen came by on their motored-longboats and various people came to the river to bathe, do laundry or wash dishes. 

We felt lucky to be in Luang Prabang just as the town was preparing for “Lai Heua Fai”(Festival of the Fire Boat), to celebrate the end of the rainy season. Evidence of the upcoming event could be seen in every temple throughout the town as monks gathered to work on a float together. These decorated floats become illuminated by candles, lanterns and even electric lights, and sent downstream. We wish we could have stayed for the actual event that happened only two days after we left.

A great way to end our northern Laos adventure was to climb Phousi Hill:

…and watch the sun set behind the mountains on the other side of the Mekong, another well-known thing to do in Luang Prabang.

Laos has become one of our favorite countries for its scenery and access to nature. We highly recommend it if you ever get the chance to go.

Thanks for following. Stay tuned for more Thai adventure now.

Mindy and Ligeia :):)

3 thoughts on “Luang Prabang – A Romantic Peninsula

  1. Anonymous

    Such much beauty to see – all is very impressive and colourful!

    Thanks for sharing! – I want a rice cookie now!

    Love from Oma 🙂

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