Birthday Weekend Trip to the Quaint City of Luang Prabang in Laos, Day 1
Around same time last year, my boyfriend bought us plane tickets to Luang Prabang in Laos for my birthday. Prior to the trip, we both know nothing about Laos, and even more so about its city, Luang Prabang. All I know is that it is in Southeast Asia. It is one of the lesser known countries in the region, and it’s in my under-the-radar places to visit. We were actually supposed to visit Borobudur in Indonesia or Brunei, but the prior didn’t have good flights, and the latter was not really charming enough to visit. We were even thinking of going to Japan again, but flights are so expensive for just a weekend trip. So we focused on Southeast Asia alone, and we ended up discovering Luang Prabang.
We flew to Luang Prang on a Saturday morning via SilkAir. We were so excited!
Luang Prabang is located in central Laos, along banks of the Mekong River. You can actually see the mighty long river of Mekong when the plane is about to land at the Luang Prabang International Airport.
We arrived before lunch. After going through immigration, we bought travel sim cards and exchanged some Lao Kip (1 SGD is around 6,400 Kip). We then headed straight to our hotel via a shuttle service which costs 50,000 Kip per person.
We checked in to Rimvang Guesthouse located at Luang Prabang’s town centre. Its location is excellent as it is near to the places we were planning to visit like the Royal Palace, Mount Phou Si, and even the street where the night markets were set up every night, obviously. We stayed for 2 nights and it only costed us SG$50! The overall service was great for the price, the room was clean, and they served Western breakfast. My only complaint is the A/C in our room was quite noisy.
After settling in our room and resting for a while, we went out to eat our lunch. When I was searching for places to eat, I found a small restaurant located by the riverside called Lamache Restaurant. It was just a mere 7-minute walk from our hotel, and I thought the place would be good in photos because of the river. Haha!
After lunch, we were supposed to visit the Royal Palace Museum next, but we were exhausted so we decided to just skip it and visit it on another day. We went back to our hotel and took a nap, which we really needed as our next activity was hiking.
It was around 4PM when we woke up and got ready. Before doing the hike, we casually strolled the main road of the town called the Sisavangvong Road. I have read that the namesake of this road was the king of the Kingdom of Luang Prabang and the Kingdom of Laos. This road is filled with cafes, restaurants, and hotels and guesthouses. Despite the booming tourism, all the architectures in this town are preserved as it was inscribed into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
We, then, checked out the famous Bamboo Bridge over the Nam Khan River. They say that this bridge is only up for 6 months a year as it is always washed away because of the floods. The locals need to rebuild the bridge after a week once the flood subsides. To help with the yearly rebuilding efforts, 10,000 Kip must be paid when crossing.
After crossing back, we proceeded to the foot of Mount Phou Si to start our hike. There are two starting points on either sides of the hill; they are easy to spot as they are actual staircases. We decided to start from the riverbank side and descend from the Sisavangvong Road side.
Actually, Mount Phou Si is just a hill, and it stands 100 metres above sea level. It is a sacred mountain as it is home to the temple called Wat Chom Si, which is located at the very top. There are lots of Buddha statues along the way, so try to be respectful especially to the locals who hike the hill to pray. By the way, there is an entrance fee of 20,000 Kip which is paid halfway the hike.
It took us around 30 minutes to reach the top. The views were spectacular — you could see a 360-degree view of the whole town.
There were already lots of people, local and tourists alike, when we arrived as everyone was waiting for the sunset. But it was still quite early before the sun starts setting, so we took some photos first before settling down.
As the sunset approached, even more people arrived so before it even gets crowded, we looked for an empty spot to sit down and settled down. We were able to chat with some of the other tourists and most of them were backpacking Southeast Asia and they came to Luang Prabang from Vang Vieng in Vietnam. It seems like Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang is a popular route among backpackers.
We actually didn’t wait much for the sun to really set. We started descending before it happened because we didn’t want to descend with lots of people. When we reached the bottom of the hill, the locals have started setting up their shops, and together they formed the Luang Prabang Night Market.
We went back to our hotel to freshen up and rest. We ended the day with a dinner and a bottle of Laotian beer.
That’s it for day one! Hopefully, I could follow this up with a post about our day two soon!