We had no idea what to expect from Luang Prabang. We’d only heard that it’s a beautiful place from other fellow travellers who we’ve met while smoothly floating along the river Mekong on our posh boat. Everyone kept telling us we were gonna love it.
After two days on the water, we finally reached our first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Laos and (as predicted by other travellers) immediately fell in love with the place.
We stayed nearly at the end of the peninsula formed by the Mekong and the Nam Khan River, in a quiet part of the town and instantly made a decision to stay here for a week. If it wasn’t so expensive, we could have easily stretched our stay for another few days.
Our guest house, overlooking the river, was perfectly located. It was a great base from which to stroll the narrow streets of Luang Prabang studded with beautiful cafes, boutique shops while enjoying the French architecture surrounded by beautiful scenery.
The picturesque streets of Luang Prabang
Almost everything about Luang Prabang breathes luxury. We were shocked (in a good way) to find the streets free of rubbish and actually paved! Every hotel was adorned with beautiful flowers and greenery, something we missed in Chiang Rai.
It didn’t feel like Southeast Asia anymore, it felt like we were transported into a cosy little town somewhere in the Mediterranean.
I especially loved the brick steps leading up to the main high street with all the coffee shops and French bakeries. I wanted to explore every passage (and bakery…) on the atmospheric streets of this French influenced settlement.
Across the bamboo bridges
The riverside at the end of the peninsula is beautifully manicured and leads to a narrow bamboo bridge across the river to the intriguing ‘other side’ of Luang Prabang.
The bridge is open only during the dry season and fascinatingly rebuilt by the locals every year after the monsoon season. A small fee of 6,000 LAK applies to cross the bridge, but don’t be put off. It’s a good fun and you can see the delicate yet strong enough construction up close.
If you fancy staying out of the town, “the other side” is home to a more local community, but also one of the top Italian stone baked pizza restaurants in town.
We enjoyed our evenings with cold beer at Pizza Phan Luang on a several occasions and If we stayed longer in Luang Prabang, I am sure, we would have ate our way through the entire menu. The pizzas were scrumptious and the atmosphere relaxed.
The streets, unlike the main touristy town across the river, are unpaved, but tidy. Occasional luxury can be found here as well. Beautifully furnished and (most likely) air condition hotels look very inviting in the heat.
To get back to the centre of Luang Prabang, use another bamboo bridge located further upstream. This bridge will cost you 5,000 LAK to cross and will take you right to the bottom of Chomsy Hill.
Don’t forget to admire the views as you walk across the bridge. The bridge is free to cross after 6pm, but don’t worry, the fairy lights will lead the way through the darkness.
Just before heading back to the ‘posh’ part of the town, pop into Dyen Sabai for dinner at the top of the bamboo bridge. They serve great food and the atmosphere is totally relaxed. We loved it.