We visited 2nd week of March -- arrived to Luang Prabang on Bangkok Airways from Bangkok. Went thru the Visa process and then customs – takes a little bit of time if everyone on your plane is also following the same process. The plane door was at the back of the plane and of course we were sitting in the front, so one of the last in line. Grabbed our bags and headed outside for our pick up from the guesthouse. However, no one was there and after waiting for quite some time, I finally paid the Tourist/Hotel info desk guy to call our guesthouse for us…. They were so sorry and would send driver right away. As we were waiting, a little red tuk tuk was coming down the road and we laughed and said – there’s our ride – haaa, it truly was! We knew from our start that we would now be on Laos time and what an adventure AND relaxing trip this would be! Greeted wonderfully once we arrived to Villa Ban Lakkham and shown to a beautiful room on the second floor with a view of the Nam Khan River! We spent our first afternoon walking up the main road following the Nam Khan river towards the Mekong River…. Such a picturesque town. We were asked a few times if we wanted a ride somewhere by tuk tuk drivers and also by guys along the river, but not aggressively or that often, nothing like other cities/countries we’ve visited. We then headed up to the tourist area/street and had our first Lao beers and fried spring rolls – both delicious! After we walked and shopped a little, then headed towards L’Hacienda for massages! We had a 90-minute aromatherapy massage – approx. $20USD – gotta love it! Very nice facilities – would highly recommend – we were able to shower before and after – they have the process down! That evening we walked the entire night market and decided upon 3 Nagos for dinner. We had appetizers of river weed, fried spring rolls followed by pad thai and a chicken curry dish. Thank you to all the people that said to try the river weed – we enjoyed it everywhere we ordered! It seems odd, but it was great! The spring rolls were great here to as the dipping sauce was a peanut sauce and so delicious. Unfortunately, we ate across from the real restaurant – we wished we had realized this as our beers had to be walked across the street – haa! So the atmosphere was a little lacking and there was only one other couple in the restaurant we were in… But, the food was great!
Day 2 – We rented a motorbike through our guesthouse – only $20USD a day. We drove out to Kuang Si waterfalls. We had a great time here! We did not do any swimming, but lots of people did. It was nice not to be on a tour and just be there on our own schedule. We stopped and saw the bears – much nicer than I was anticipating… bears seem happy! The waterfalls are absolutely gorgeous and we took tons of photos. We started up on the right side of the waterfall and hiked all the way to the top, crossed over the small river/water and down the other side…. Glad we did that – it was really fun and not all the difficult, I can imagine it would be really hard tho if the ground was really wet or during rainy season. But it was fairly dry so not that bad. After the waterfall, we stopped at a little restaurant on the right side as we exited and had a little lunch – again Beer Lao, papaya salad and fried rice. Papaya salad was great, fried rice was just okay… should have had pad thai instead as it was good everywhere we ate it! The drive back and forth takes quite a bit of time as we drove leisurely, preferring to take it easy as the roads are not the best, but we never had any issues and found it easily enough. After, rested for a bit and cleaned up for dinner… Walked/shopped a bit and had beers at Opera so we could have some free wi-fi as it was down that day at the guesthouse. Unfortunately, it was buy 2 get 1 free of the big Lao beers, so before we knew it, we had 2 and oops, here comes the third! Finally decided we better get some food in us and headed for Khmu which is a place someone recommended on TA saying it was 2 doors down from Coconut Garden and has leaves on the ceiling – we found it! The food was fabulous! More spring rolls, pad thai and another pork or chicken dish… All I remember is the food was so delicious and we laughed at the people around us that were eating pizza or other American-type food which looked awful compared to the wonderful more local type food we were feasting on! We love all types of Asian food and we never had a bad meal in Laos!!
Day 3 – Villa Ban Lakkham has free bikes for guest use… so we took those out for the day. Everyone was so correct in saying that a great way to see Luang Prabang is on a bike – we really enjoyed our day with bikes. We started at one end of town at the National Palace – please visit – beautiful and very interesting place! Stopped at Wat Mai. Then walked to the top of Mount Phousi – we skipped the “sunset” hike up and opted to do it mid-day… We explored the entire area and enjoyed our walk to the top and all around top and back down. We then headed for Eutopia for beers and snacks. What a great place – so glad we stopped here – what a beautiful rest stop to sit out on the back deck facing the river – awesome! We again had beers, river weed and fresh spring rolls – food was wonderful and beers…. Shopped at a little place that sold local crafts just down street from Eutopia (Made in Laos) – bought some beautiful items for ourselves. Visited a few more temples, Wat Visou, Wat Aham, and then my camera battery died… so we biked around a bit, then headed back, rested, cleaned up… Dinner tonight was Rosella on the riverfront, just down the street from our guesthouse. We had a wonderful dinner here – very beautiful place with great service – even provided bug spray, but we never had a real problem while in Laos – saw mosquitos, but not that bad and never bitten. Papaya salad, pad thai and another dish, and of course, beers! Food was great!
Day 4 – Our last day…. We were up early to see the Alms procession. Again, other TA posts were correct. It was a beautiful sight to see, but the other tourists are simply obnoxious and it is really hard to watch. While waiting for the alms to begin, we were sitting on the sidewalk across the street and trying to be completely unobtrusive when a driver with a single tourist pulls up and parks right in front of us… fortunately for me and a couple others watching with us, my hubby asked the driver to please move the vehicle – the street was virtually empty and why he decided to park directly in front of us is beyond me! Of course, that tourist was one of the WORST ones there – why people feel they need to get directly in front of the walking monks and snap photos like that is just awful! I am so glad that the time period we visited seemed to be a lull in visitors – we never felt completely overrun with tourists and I can only imagine how bad it is when it is high season… We then stopped for an early morning coffee before breakfast. Then headed out for the Wats we had missed the day before. We visited a lot of little wats and then Wat Xieng Thong which is so beautiful – we spent a little time here as there is a lot to see. Later that morning, we rented a scooter again and this time headed out a different road for Tad Sae waterfall. This was a very interesting adventure. The road were much worse in this direction and there was a lot of road construction going on and a lot of big trucks! But, we finally made it and when we parked our motorbike, there was no one else there – the 2 girls working the “booth” took our money for parking and directed us down the road. We walked for 5-8 minutes to the river – I think it is the Nam Khan river… A lean-to with lots of guys hanging out, charged us our fee and then directed a driver for us and we headed to a little boat with another couple that we ran into on the walk there. The boat ride was the best part! As we arrived, there were other tourists there and they were bathing the elephants and riding elephants. We skipped this as we have been in Thailand before and one elephant ride was sufficient for us. We walked up to the waterfall only to realize there was NO water! Haaa! So, find out if you can from someone in town before heading out here if there is any water or not. This is the only place that buzzing, flying insects bothered us, we walked up the dry falls a bit and headed right on back to the boat. The driver laughed as we arrived but happily took us back! There is another waterfall along the same road closer to LP, but it was a dirt road for a couple KM, so we opted not to visit it, but did hear that it was much better than Tad Sae – maybe it was Tad Thong. We had an afternoon snack at Tangor of beers and fried spring rolls – very nice place! We enjoyed the atmosphere and the food! It was nice and relaxing and a great place to just watch away the afternoon! Again, all the places seem to offer wi-fi which is nice! Our last night’s dinner we chose Aspara. Again, we had a fantastic meal – more spring rolls (can you tell we liked these everywhere!), an eggplant dish, stir fry chicken with chili jam and more beer. This is the only place we ordered dessert – profiteroles with ice cream – so delicious! This is a beautiful restaurant, the best service and the food was worth every penny – but I think it only cost $30USD – we so enjoyed our inexpensive every meal was in Laos – and how truly delicious all the food was, much better than we anticipated as I read a lot about Laos food not that good – while we probably ate a lot of Thai dishes… everything was great!
Our stay with Villa Ban Lakkham was fabulous – only one day did we have problems with the wifi. Our room was a nice size, we were surprised we never needed AC, that it cools down in the evenings at least at this time of year. Our room was serviced daily, our bathroom was large and even had a tub/shower. No complaints at all and would recommend this guesthouse. Breakfast was provided and we ate every morning in the restaurant across the street – Indestructible Rock – the breakfast was fabulous. Fresh fruit to start, then beverage of your choice, coffee, tea, etc. and they would provide more if you asked. Then eggs, either scrambled, omelet or soft eggs – we had bacon but saw others have ham, so presume there were options, we just never asked. Jams were good too! It was a beautiful way to start our day with a gorgeous view of the river.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Luang Prabang – it was our first visit. While it was burn season, we never ever saw this as an issue. It seemed a little hazy when looking in the distance, I am not really sure if nothing was happening while we were there, or what, but it was not a problem. We also were amazed that the town does seem to “close down” around 9:30-10 pm. But, we are a 50-yr old couple and were not there to party, so it was not a problem, but it was noticeable. We never got around to taking a boat road on the Mekong, Pak Ou Grottos and I’m sure other “to do” things… maybe next time! It was a truly relaxing trip and locals were friendly/helpful – thank you Luang Prabang and thank you other TA writers for all the useful information!