Soakin' up the Culture in Luang Prabang...Enjoying the Town-the People-the Food
11.08.2011 - 18.08.2011 92 °F
Aug. 11-14 Helpful Travel Notes:
Accommodations: Bellevue Bungalows – Khoua Khao Street (Old Bridge) | Ban Muang Nga | Luang Prabang, Laos (see details)
• ~$14 USD/112,000 kip, depending on amenities, beds, people, etc., for a Room with 1 Twin Bed & 1 Double Bed.
Rent a Bicycle: The least expensive, most efficient way to get around the small town and to see all the sights, temples, etc. is renting a bike.
• $1.33 USD/10,000 kip per day. Motorbike rental is another available option.
Buy a Handmade Custom Name or Image Stamp: Walk down the main street - Th Sisavangvong – you’ll see the storefronts selling the stamps.
• $10 USD/80,000 kip – haggle if you’re not Laotian (see details).
[i]Buy souvenirs, silks, artwork, jewelry, clothing, and local handicrafts at the Night Market: At the far West end of the main street, Th Sisavangvong, there is a Night Market every night (see details).
Tour the Wats (Temples): Get a good map when you arrive in Luang Prabang and take time to wander through different-style wats and their surrounding grounds.
Post Office: Located in a large yellow house-style building at the end of Th Sisavangvong, past where the Night Market is set up every evening.
Eat at as many local restaurants as possible: the restaurants in Luang Prabang are delectable – sample as many as you can! (see details).
Soaking up the Culture in Luang Prabang...Enjoying the Town-the People-the Food
On our first day in town we grab a map and just start walking. We see wats, storefronts, and a myriad of restaurants, guest houses and hotels. The town of Luang Prabang, made up of several small villages/neighbourhoods, sits nestled between two rivers - The Mighty Mekong on the Northwest side, and the River Khan to the Southeast. This fortuitous geography offers not only gorgeous views, but also a solid point of reference for tourists wandering the town. Although there are a few “main” streets in town (Sisavangvong, Sikkaline, ) , the side streets in Luang Prabang offer a unique taste of the local culture in Laos .
After walking from our bungalows to the main stretch of town the first day in Luang Prabang , I decide it’s time to rent a bicycle to get around. It’s not that I’m not a “walker”, per se, but I had to cross a horrifically high, rickety bridge (yes, the “Old Bridge” is precisely that--), to get to the main part of town. Besides, having a bike affords us the luxury of covering more ground in a shorter amount of time.
Serene & I duck into a cute little store selling millions of gorgeous post cards for 2000 kip apiece. They also have beautiful, unique, handmade paper cards on a rounder out front. We buy some post cards and a lovely handmade card picturing two elephants, a smaller elephant gripping the tail of a larger one, who appears to be leading it. Essie says, “Ya-Ya…Essie!”, so I absolutely cave and buy it to send to O. Inside I write, “Your Little Sister chose this card for you, saying it reminds her of you”. How adorable is that?! I pride myself on living my life without regret. However, I wish Liv’s school year didn’t begin so blasted early, as I would’ve brought her with us. They are the Best of friends, and they do miss each other dearly.
We relax on a restaurant patio along Th Sisavangvong, writing our post cards, sharing authentic Italian thin-crust pizza. Every bit of the experience is tantalizing! Most of you know how I adore my hobby of “People Watching” – this is definitely the perfect spot for it! However, when you choose a patio seat, be sure to don your thickest skin. You’ll have to withstand the pleas of small school children soliciting money for bracelets and kitschy souvenirs. “…It’s not for me, Madame. It’s money for my school, Madame!” Simply give a firm “No,” and they’ll wander to the next sucker, err, falang to peddle their wares.
Once we finish lunch, we pedal down to the far end of Th Sisavangvong with our post cards and boucoup souvenirs from Vietnam, where the Post Office, aka “L’Office d’Poste”, resides in a large, yellow “house-like” building. There is a sign, but it’s in Thai and French, so keep an eye out for “The Yellow House”, as locals call it. There are several English-speaking Staff, so just walk in and ask for help, and they’ll direct you to the correct windows. Payment for Post is Cash Only, so you may have to stop at the ATM.
Some of the restaurants we visit more than once this week are Aussie Sports Bar, L’etranger Books and Tea, and The House Belgian Food and Drinks. Locals may recommend Lao Lao Gardens BBQ - although the food was alright, the atmosphere is kitschy and the prices exorbitant. Avoid it.
Aug. 11-14 Places/Things to Do:
Th Sisavangvong – the main street/backpacker/tourist trap area of Luang Prabang – you’ll find restaurants, souvenirs, clothing, boutiques, Museums, banks, ATMs…anything you need is found here or within 1 block of this street.
Bellevue Bungalows – Khoua Khao Street (Old Bridge) | Ban Muang Nga | Luang Prabang, Laos
• ~$14 USD/112,000 kip, depending on amenities, beds, people, etc., for a Room with 1 Twin & 1 Double Bed.
• Amenities: Kind, attentive, gregarious Staff, clean rooms/bathroom, WiFi “spotty” in room + public areas, Hot water shower, complimentary bottled water, A/C, armoire, balcony with table/chairs, simple Western Breakfast included.
• Bellevue Bungalows is located away from the main town centre but very close to the Nam Khan River and within walking distance of Mount Phousi, the Night Market and the main street. Situated across the picturesque Old Bridge from town, Bellevue is next door to La Bel Air Boutique Resort.
• website: http://www.bellevuebungalows-lp.com/location
Aussie Sports Bar - Ban Aham | Sisouphan Road | Luang Prabang, Laos | website: www.aussiesportsbar-luangprabang.com | phone: +8562056170259
• $5-10/150-300 Baht; Convenient location, good Aussie Pub food – best hand-cut “chips” I’ve tasted in forever! Great owners -John & Jenny, Aussie/Laotian. Corey is charming & fun!
• Catch AFL (Australian Rules Football League) games –John’s a former player and massive fan– and English Premier League games on Sat-Sun nights.
L’etranger Books and Tea | Hive – Th Kingkitsarat | Phousi Road | Ban Aphai (Village) | Luang Prabang, Laoss | email: booksinLaoss@yahoo.com
• WiFi, books to sit and read or for purchase, light menu and a wonderful selection of “true” teas served with fresh milk (not powdered creamer!) and sugar.
• Movies are shown on the upstairs level – check the posted schedule for details.
The House Belgian Food and Drinks – Phousi Road | Aphai Village | Luang Prabang, Laos | email: thehouseLaos@gmail.com | phone: +856 (0)71 255 021
Icon Klub – Ban Xiengmouane 51/4 | Luang Prabang, Laos | website: www.iconklub.yolasite.com | email: firstname.lastname@example.org | phone: +856 (2) 0777 1972
• Cool, eclectic pub with gorgeous artwork! Lisa, the bartender, is a sweetheart and fun!
• On weekend nights, movies are shown on the upstairs level.