Luang Prabang Residence
Ban Pakham, Luang Prabang, Laos
More about Luang Prabang
Wat Aham, Luang Prabang, Lao.
Skyscape over Luang Prabang, PDR Lao.
I am planning to visit Laos in November. Just a couple of quick questions which I would be very grateful for if answered:
1. I plan to visit Muang Sing after crossing the Thai-Laos border at Chiang Khong. What is the best way to get to Muang Sing from the border (cost/duration)? I hear that a Mekong river trip is a possibility in these parts.
2. From Muang Sing/Luang Nam Tha what is the best way to get to Luang Prabang (cost/duration)? Is there an overnight bus or even flight options?
I appreciate any help provided. Many Thanks.
Re: The North
1. Cheapest is to take the bus from Huay Xai to Luang Namtha and the following morning take a songthaew to Muang Sing, a couple hours away. Fastest is probably to take the speed boats up the Mekong to Xieng Kok but it's expensvie. When taking the bus, buy the ticket from the bus station outside of Huay Xai since guesthouses and travel agencies sell the bus ticket at inflated 50% MORE cost.
2. From Muang Sing catch the earliest songthaew to LNT or better yet get to LNT the night before because the first bus from LNT departs at 8am for Oudomxai. Then transfer at Oudomxai bus station (where the bus stops) to the next bus to Luang Prabang or any other bus headed past LP (for example, a Vientiane bus, but make sure they only charge you for only the LP distance). If you were to take the L. Namtha bus to L. Prabang, you'll get there later than transferring at Oudomxai because it's a local bus and stops all along the way which makes you're arrival in LP around 8-10PM!
Travel Tips for Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang UNESCO town
Luang Prabang is a charming town located in a small basin formed by two rivers, the Nam Khan and Mekong. Since its inscription on the UNESCO list of World heritage sites this 30000 people town has seen tourism grow; luckily enough road and air connections are quite poor, so at least it has been spared by the huge tour buses' plague. Visiting the temples - 32 wonderful temples - and interacting with the people, nice and a bit reservd - very refreshing after the intrusiveness of Thai people. I found it to be an oasis of peace
Temples and trees
Luang Prabang has 2 distinctive icons: its many temples and the jungle surrounding the town.
In the pic you can see a good example of that. This is a little temple you can find in the gardens of the former Royal Palace, as you enter, at the right hand side.
I tried to enter, but it was closed.
Making Daily Offerings to Monks
In Laos, like all other Theravada Buddhist countries, there is a daily ritual whereby the monks and novices go out on an early morning procession around their temple to collect their day's food offerings from the local devotees. The ritual is more than just symbolic, as monks and novices are not allowed to cook for themselves, and they sustain themselves entirely on the food that they collect each day.
Anyone is welcome to take part in the food offering, and so my wife and I got up at sunset one morning in Luang Prabang in order to make our offerings. Most of locals prepare the Lao staple of sticky rice, but not having a means to cook, we simply passed out cookies that we bought at a local market. It may sound funny, but most of the novices are young boys, and they like sweets just as much as any other kid.
My wife says that it was a very moving, spiritual experience for her, but it just reminded me of a bunch of children trick-or-treating on Halloween, that is if every child wore the same Buddhist monk costume.
Mountain biking is a prime activity in Luang Prabang due to the... well due to the steep jungle mountains surrounding town. There are many ways you can go about arranging a mountain bike excursion from Luang Prabang. You could rent the bike yourself and try to navigate the homogeneous dirt roads passing through practically identical villages without getting lost. It's really not the ideal place to stop and ask for directions.
The other option is to choose from a plethora of adventure tour companies in Luang Prabang. I opted for a daylong excursion with Green Discovery. I paid $24 and the itinerary included about 3 hours of cross country biking in the morning with stops at a silk and cotton weaving village and the grave of Henri Mouhot (the Frenchman who red-discovered Angkor Wat) before transferring to inflatable kayaks. We kayaked to the Tad Sae waterfall, where we swam and ate lunch for over an hour, and then proceeded to kayak for another two hours to meet up with the truck that transferred us back to town.
The following day I left on a three day tour with White Elephant Adventures. The first day comprised of about 6 hours of cross country biking, with numerous stops in local villages.
I'm usually averse to bikes and the discomfort they cause me in my nether region, but I really enjoyed these trips. The pitches weren't too steep, though the uphills could be strenuous at times, especially in the heat. The scenery of Northern Laos is fantastic, with sharp mountains everywhere and villagers yelling encouragement (at least that what the guides said) along the way.
I road on 9 speed bikes (Gary Fisher and Trek, respectively) on each trip. Everyone got helmets and plenty of water and the guides spoke English well in addition to acting responsibly towards their groups. There were plenty of other non-bikers on both outings and no one had any problems meeting the physical demands. Bring some sunscreen, sunglasses, preferably some kind of wicking material clothing, and a camera. I rode in Tevas, so sneakers aren't necessary.
Tat Sey Waterfalls
The Tat Sey waterfalls are about 25 km out of Luang Prabang so you have to use bikes and get a boat to get to them. A group of us went there for a picnic and did a little bit of swimming in the ponds. The multi-tiered falls are really nice and would be more impressive during or just after the wet season.
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