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Thread: Luang Prabang

  1. #1
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    Luang Prabang

    OK, first a caveat. This is my first ever attempt at a picture report, so I will take it kindly if you cut me a wee bit of slack. I spent half the morning faffing about re-sizing pictures and re-figuring out the pic up load. I think I overdid the image re-sizing, but can't be arsed to go back and give it another whirl. So, for what it is worth, here we go:

    Luang prabang.

    Work took me to luang prabang in laos for a few days. As it was a work trip, no sightseeing time. There seemed to be a number of trips on offer around the town, which mostly featured 'trekking", or "elephants" or both. There is a waterfall somewhere which seems popular from the number of trips offered there. But, as said, I ws working so none of that for me.

    That being aside, I loved, really loved luang prabang. It is a beautiful, restful little town. The main thing I got from it was that it was QUIET. Everywhere. No tape decks going at full blast, no TV blaring out, people seemed to be able to talk, and not shout at each other. The locals were polite, respectful and welcoming. All in all, it was a fair bit of a culture shock from Thailand. It was CLEAN!

    The big things in LP, as far as I saw were markets. In the street outside my hotel there was a morning veggie/food market along the lane, and in the night the main street was transformed for much of its length into a handicrafts market.

    Each day after the morning veggie market, it was swept, washed and left spotless - no smell, no garbage, no lingering distinctive odour. Amazing.

    This is a world heritage town, and the buildings and architecture are left intact, an intersting smattering of colonial archetecture and local styles. Only a rare building of more than two stories high, most two stories or less (by law apparently).

    The food at everywhere we ate (myself and a Thai companion) was of extremely high quality. Most of it was indistnguishable from thai food- just better presented, and much better quality. Our Tom Yang with chicken had chicken meat in it, not bone, snot, gristle and beak as so often seem the case here. The french influence was still strong, and lovely fresh french style bread was everywhere, with big bowls of soup, sandwiches, just on the street with some cheese. overall, I was really really pleased with the quality of the food everywhere.

    Our hotel was a great place. Nice mix of traditional furnishings with modern conveniences - fridge, TV with cable, great shower with ample hot water etc. Staff were attentive, polite and discrete.

    Sadly much of Laos was an eye opener for my Thai companion, as this is what Thais pride themselves on, but so rarely deliver. Taxi drivers were polite, gave the history of where we were going, filled us in on daily living - oh so different from what we get on our trips around Thaialnd. For much of it, laos reminded my thai companion of what Thailand was like in her youth.

    The tourists seemed to be either mainly older groups or back packers, but despite the plentiful numbers of grungy backpackers in Tie-died pants and dreads, they seemed not to have impacted the locals too much. Nobody on corners offering drugs, girls or anything else (except the occasional "waterfall" - "you want go waterfall?"). No beggars on the streets, o kids chasing you with chewing gum.

    The town closes at 12pm at the latest (by law as I understand it), so no great night life. I have an itchy feeling that there was no great 'adult scene" (shall we say), although a few massage places offered "full body massages" so a bit of hanky panky might be around - but I would not hold my breath. Women were pretty and invariable in local dress, which was pleasant.

    I would go back in a heart beat. It was relaxing, stress free, laid back and welcoming. If you want frantic activity, it is not for you, but if you want to kick back amongst genteel charms, I highly recommend it. We flew from bangkok on bangkok airways, but many other ways to get there.

    OK - I will try and put some of my butchered photos in:



    The mekong:













    Night market






    street scenes










    temple in the grounds of the national museum







    Hmm. that will do for now.

    Anyway, lastly, the "Big" thing to do in luang prabang (aside from trekking and elephants) is to get up at 5 am or so, and go see the procession of the monks on their morning alms round. As that happens outside my door each morning at home, I passed....
    Last edited by nidhogg; 27-03-2011 at 01:08 PM.

  2. #2
    Philippine Expat
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    Nice write-up, Hogg. Pictures just came through as well.

  3. #3
    Pedantic bastard
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    A few mre random thoughts:

    Visa on arrival needed for most nationals - but not Thais. The posted price was 35$ US for a brit (different countries, different prices). Pay in dollars!! I made the mistake of paying in baht, they charged me 1400 baht, nearer 46US$ !!

    You also need a photo for your visa application - luckily I had one

    Everywhere was happy (even happier in most cases) to take Thai baht over the local currency (Kip). There were several ATMs that dished out kip so no probs getting money.

    more when I remember it...

  4. #4
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    Wife and I spent some vacation time in LP. We loved it and even talked about the possibility of living there. The open restaurant area at the front of the French restaurant was great. They even had real American hamburgers. My Thai wife had one for breakfast the next day.

    You flew so you missed some real sights that you see from the bus as you go from Vientien (sp) up to LP.

    Great photos you posted. Brings back some memories. May have to go up again.

  5. #5
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    Yeah I really enjoyed LP too.

    Very chilled, beers cheap and very very nice and you can get a late drink if need be but not in your face.

    Definitely worth a few days visit.

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    I recommend flying into LP. My neck was really sore for 3 days, after the 9 hr bus ride from Vientiane. The morning monk parade is a tourist hustle for money. Get some friends together for a cruise on the Mekong River for $50. I loved LP. Much quieter in 2010, than my previous trip in 1972, during the "Secret War in Laos".

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    Bit over sleepy for me, but will have a good golf course by now.
    The juliana resort.
    Bit pricey as well.
    But pretty none the less.

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    Unfriendly immigration at Boden

    If you are travelling south to Luang Prabang from Kunming or Jing Hong be prepared to meet the rudest, greedy, slow and incompetent Laos immigration officials at the Boden immigration hut. Time to deal with Laos immigration and customs at this ghastly crossing is 3 and a half hours. The visa on demand window does not open until 0930 am. No visa forms nor entrance and exit cards are displayed so you queue up to obtain a form and then waste more time completing the two forms required. If you are number 17 in the queue you will frind yourself numkber 25 as increasing numbers of visitors are allowed to queue jump. Chinese nationals are required to pay to both enter and exit Laos at this immigration hut.

    If you use this route to Luang Prabang and travel from Jing Hong my recommendation is to pick up the Kunming/Luang Prabang sleeper bus at the bus station at Mohan, China, which is the border town at 0800 hours. There are a number of cheap hotels in Mohan for an overnight stay if you bus down from Jing Hong. The bus will wait for you at the Boden crosssing. Fare from Mohan to LP is RMB 100. Journey time from Boden to LP is around 8 hours after the three and a half hour Laos immigration and customs procedures. One Laos officer needs a calculator to multiply 37 X 2!!! 37 is the price of a visa in us dollars for a Brit.

    In contrast, the Chinese immigration at Mohan is fast and friendly.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by cdnski12 View Post
    I recommend flying into LP. My neck was really sore for 3 days, after the 9 hr bus ride from Vientiane. The morning monk parade is a tourist hustle for money. Get some friends together for a cruise on the Mekong River for $50. I loved LP. Much quieter in 2010, than my previous trip in 1972, during the "Secret War in Laos".
    I bet. Long Cheng! But a necessity at the time.

  10. #10
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    Next time, resize the pics to 600x800

    but nice report, cheers.

  11. #11
    gdk
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    Laos is a very nice country with better food than in Thailand there beer Lao beer I find it better than Thai beer. I traveled to the Nord of Laos by road the road from Vientiane to LP is rather good from LP to the North is very bumpy, at an other time I travelled south Laos all my trips I have organized via a Laos travel company with a very good service guide and car waiting at the border at Nongkai

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    Quote Originally Posted by gdk View Post
    Laos is a very nice country with better food than in Thailand there beer Lao beer I find it better than Thai beer. I traveled to the Nord of Laos by road the road from Vientiane to LP is rather good from LP to the North is very bumpy, at an other time I travelled south Laos all my trips I have organized via a Laos travel company with a very good service guide and car waiting at the border at Nongkai
    What was the name of your travel agency? I'd like to use them to visit there in the not too distant future. Thanks!

  13. #13
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    LP to Jing Hong or Kunming by bus

    There is a chinese bus travelling from Luang Prabang to Kunming via Mohan, China. If you wish to travel to Jing Hong, take the same bus to Mengla, China bus station and a local bus to Jing Hong from that station. Mengla to JH is 3 hours by bus.

    The bus can be caught at the Bei Xing guest house in LP. Be there at 0630. Bus leaves 0700 hours. Buses are generally not full and are the sleeper variety. Bus fare LP to Mengla is RMB 110. Bus fare from Mengla to JH is RMB 40.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Wilson
    Next time, resize the pics to 600x800
    This big enough for ya old fella or do you need a magnifying glass.

    Quote Originally Posted by nidhogg
    The mekong:


    Quote Originally Posted by nidhogg
    Night market


    Quote Originally Posted by nidhogg
    street scenes




    Quote Originally Posted by nidhogg
    temple in the grounds of the national museum
    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

  15. #15
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    I was there in August 2002 for 5 days staying at the Villa Santi at around 45USD per night. Great value for a characterful hotel converted from an old mansion allegedly used as a royal residence but I expect prices have risen since. Very central to the sights of interest all of which were in easy walking distance.

    Unfortunately, that was when the rainy season was in full spate and by God was it wet and steamy. When it wasn't raining the air was so humid it might as well have been and the only solution avoiding the broiling miasma was to sit by the Mekong watching it flow drinking beer Lao under an umbrella reading The Quiet American or some such book.

    Evenings were easy - pop down to the L'Elephant bar and restaurant for pre dinner drinks and perhaps the best steak frites outside of Paris. The people were interesting and conversation good.

    Cannabis can be had quite cheaply and I don't think the sellers are involved in a scam.

    Look forward to going back. The flight in, weaving between the mountains, was a great overture although it is best to obtain your visa before arrival if one wishes to avoid the queue. When I went the immigration staff were dreadfully slow, pedantic and quite unsmiling so I suspect most visitors will feel at home.....

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    Good effort !

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    good thread, thanks, always like the travel threads

    I hadn't heard of Luang Prabang before . . . then a few days later 31 March the Bangkok Post ran a three-page pictorial/feature:

    Luang Prabang by boat
    A leisurely cruise on the Mekong River to the ancient capital of Laos


    lots of pretty pics if you follow the link in header

    Will copy their 'Travel Info' bit here



    From Chiang Khong pier you need to pass the Thai immigration before boarding a ferry (40 baht a person) to cross to Houei Say immigration office in Laos. From here, look for a Lao-style tuk-tuk (20 baht) to Houei Say pier to board a boat to Luang Prabang. Asean tourists do not require a visa to Laos. The immigration office in Houei Say also provides visas on arrival for tourists from other countries.

    Mekong Cruise Services (Thailand) offers a choice of two- to four-day packages from Chiang Rai to Luang Prabang. During a promotion lasting until the end of April, it offers a four-day cruise with a night's stay at Luang Say Lodge in Pakbeng and two nights stay at its newly-opened Luang Say Residence in Luang Prabang. The net price starts at US$420 (about 12,700 baht) per person. For more, visit mekong-cruises.com or call 02-689-0425.

    Alternatively you can take public boats, which are rather slow, from Houei Say pier. They stop at Pakbeng and the ticket costs about 450 baht per person. From there you board another slow boat to Luang Prabang the following morning.

    Slow boat operators at Houei Say pier also provide private tours for group travellers (maximum up to 40 passengers). The price is about 20,000 baht for a two-day trip to Luang Prabang, excluding food and accommodation. The return leg might be slightly higher depending on river conditions.

    Some slow boat operators also provide non-stop cruises for up to 10 hours from Houei Say to Luang Prabang. The one-way price is 35,000 baht for a maximum of 40 passengers and 45,000 baht for a round-trip.

    Speedboat service is also available between Houei Say and Luang Prabang. Although it shortens travel time to six hours one-way, it is not recommended for your own safety, according to those who have already availed the service. But if you would like to try this four-metre boat which can take six passengers, make sure you are provided with a helmet, ear plugs and life jacket.

  18. #18
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    Nice one Nidhogg.

    Seems like a nice place to visit and your thread has put this area on my "to do" list. Thanks.

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    Thailand Expat Hampsha's Avatar
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    They certainly need to make some more t-shirt choices. I wonder if the limited number of choices is a reflection of a communist government?

  20. #20
    ENT
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    I love Lao.

    Sorry to see the Chinese moving in so quickly now.

    Thai style motocy bag snatchers are starting to show up too, mainly Vientiane.

    Luangprabang I can spend a lot of time in, the locals have been real nice to me there.

    It's illegal to have a Lao lady, so watch out!
    Not impossible though, especially in Vientiane and the notorious Vangvieng.

    Don't go off the beaten track without a guide, unexploded ordnance all over the place.
    Remains of US "Secret War" in Lao.

  21. #21
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    Had a lovely Laos lady in Vang Viene.
    18 but a bit pricey.

  22. #22
    ENT
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    They've got alittle spoiled in the last few years.

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    Yes a lot Chinese now in Luang Prabang (good and bad) and crime and corruption has gone up. But still it remains a very pretty town with a nice atmosphere.
    Night life is not too much still...the government seems to be more strict than a couple of years ago. Now many places start closing at 11.30 PM.

    Food-wise it is ok but I think Thailand does a lot of things better in that respect. Luckily the noodle soup is always good

    Lot's of pretty ladies here though, just most of them quite conservative.

  24. #24
    ENT
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    Very conservative and lovely, they like to flirt though, and talk.

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    Member skyywalker's Avatar
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    Thanks for your report. Next time, consider going to that waterfall they were talking about. We took a small boat down the river for about 30 minutes, then a 30 minute ride in a truck to the waterfall. It was spectacular.

    Sorry the pic didn't turn up...I never have been able to post a photo on this forum from the many I have stored on my MacBook Pro. Thanks again for your time & effort, OP!
    "...life down here is just a strange illusion."

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