From both That Phusi and Wat Chomephet you'll easily catch sight of the golden top of this temple standing on top on the other side of Nam Khan River. You could hire a bicycle (1$/day). Ride across the old bridge and turn right when you come to a wide crossroad. Ride ahead then through a stone bridge. When you see a slope on the left an entrance is up there. There's no time limit for the yard however the temple is open 8-10am & 2-4pm Mon-Fri.
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It's on the opposite side of Mekong River. Take a ferry there which costs 1.5$ for a return. Climb up some steps then there'll be signs. The ferryman also will show you the direction. There's a cave nearby with small Buddha sculptures inside. Not interesting in my opinion. Admission 5,000 kip for the two together. There's also a small Wat Chomephet nearby where you could have a seeing of the opposite bank. But the view is not good. Not that worth a visit and the wat is disused. Admission 5,000 kip.
- Budget Travel
Panning for Gold on the Mekong River
As we kayaked we stopped by a group of people, who were panning for gold in the Mekong. I asked if i could join them. You pick up the large wooden bowl with some sediment and swirl it all around in the water. If there is any gold it will stay in the bottom with the rocks. I thought this would be a lost cause, but after you do a few swirls, you actually see some gold. Flecks of gold. The women then showed me some small nuggets of gold that they did find in the Mekong.
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Lao New Year or Boun Pimai or Pimai Lao
The Lao New year is the same date as the Thai and Cambodian new year. It is celebrated in mid April, during the end of the hot and dry season. The festival is very similiar to the Thai Songkran festival. Many young children will canvas corners with water pistols and buckets in hoping to soak others and especially falang or farang (foriegners). Some rowdy tourists take a little too far and will appear with large super soaker water pistols. To be splashed by a giggling child is one thing, to be soaked and have your luggage wet and camera ruines is another. Most of the splashing down by the rowdy tourists is done on the main road of Sisavong-if you avoid this road, you should not run into them.
The Lao year festival runs over a few days. There is a big carnival outside the city with local bands, amuseument park style food and games. There is a beauty pagent and other events. Some masked dancers as well.
Trekking with Osa (II)
For a relatively small fee (about $30), you will be driven to a small village somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the Laotian mountains. It's approximately one hour away from town, so you will not see any tourists there at all. What follows is a rather demanding mountain trekking tour. Osa led our group away from the main road, through the fields and some low-grown forests until we reached our first stop, a village of the ethnic minority of the Khmou. That's were we had lunch - in the hut of the school teacher, a woman from Luang Prabang. After some fried pork meat, we left the little village and climbed up and down so many hills that I really cannot count them anymore... It's a wonderful landscape, jungle vegetation, high hills overgrown with banana trees... whatever you like. Accompanying these views are the sounds of many exotic birds. Our track led us to a Hmong village on top of one of the hills. This village was very interesting as Osa knew the chieftain (who was about to leave to go hunting squirrels in the forest!). So we got an insight into the village's daily life. As we were the first visitors for a very long time, the chieftain offered us a local specialty: beehive! It was the most horrible stuff I've ever tried, but to be polite I ate at least a little bit... It tastes like rotten fruit, by the way. After this village, we trekked downhill until we reached another Hmong village, where we stayed overnight. A very nice family was our host and they provided us with food and drinks (mainly Lao-Lao... :-)). The next morning, the sound of dozens of roosters woke us up and after a small breakfast , we went on. After some hours, we stopped at a marvellous waterfall in the middle of the jungle. It's a wonderful place to have a swim or take a shower under the waterfall...
Some hours later, we reached the main road again and the trek was over after some 16km or so. I had the sorest muscles of my life, but also one of the best experiences!
- Jungle and Rain Forest
- Hiking and Walking
Trekking with Osa (I)
A trekking tour through the Laotian mountains is a must!!! It was one of my best experiences in Laos in particular and South East Asia in general. If you are in Luang Prabang, a good place to ask for a guided trekking tour is Osa. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the place where he works, but I'll try to describe it as exactly as possible. The place is on Luang Prabang's main street (the street with the night market), if you come from Phu Si hill it's on the left side. Opposite of it, there's an Indian restaurant, and just in front of the door stands a massive wooden table. It' s first of all an internet cafe, but they offer trekking as well. Ask for Osa and he's gonna show you his tour offers. He'll also show you a brochure with opinions from previous trekkers - of course everything is very positive. I was not really convinced by that, but as the tour he presented me sounded great, I chose to go with him. It really was great! Check out the next chapter for a detailed tour description.
- Hiking and Walking
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Check out the villages in the countryside
Somphai took us into his village on the back of a sawngthaew. It was an hours drive from the city, a good ways into the countryside. As we passed village after village, you could see how he got more and more excited and we neared his home town.
He hadn't been back for a year and looked forward to seeing his father and mother. He took us into his home and introduced us to his sisters, and he also took us around to visit his aunties and uncles.
His mother cooked us a chicken over a fire pit in their kitchen, it was an interesting experience. My dad is originally from the Philippines, so I wondered if that was what his life was like back then. It was interesting to experience how many people live on the other side of the globe.
Find your own waterfall
Forget about Kuang Si Falls and the Buddha caves. I'm sure they're beautiful and popular for a reason, but sometimes you just want to get away from the crowds.
If so, ignore the 'I need you' guys along the riverside offering you package deals to both Kuang Si and the caves, and instead hike up your nerves and explore on your own.
Talk it up with the natives (be smart and cautious though) and find some cool out of the way alternative to cooling off on those sweltering hot summer days. We made friends with a local and he took us to a beautiful waterfall in a quiet part of the countryside. We weren't the only ones there though, there was a nice well-to-do local family picnicking in the shade, but they were polite and very friendly. That was well worth it and it was an unforgettable experience.
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.
A quiet little park
I happened upon this great little park right in the town center one day when D was sick at home in bed with one of our numerous stomach ailments. I later brought her back to snap some photos of the picturesque pond that offered up a nice reflection of the local flora.
Panning for Gold on the Mekong River
Along the banks of the Mekong river, just north of Luang Prabang, you can see groups of villagers panning for gold. We were lucky enough to encounter such a group on a kayaking trip, so we stopped to take a closer look. Not only did the friendly villagers give us a demonstration of how they did the panning, but they even let us have a try at it (see photo). It's obvious that this is long tedious work and that there really isn't that much gold to be found. But hope springs eternal!
- Water Sports
" ..I got a top grade in my class..."
It was first sentence this little girl said to me in first time we met.
I met her at temple beside her school. So i asked her what is her favarite subject .She love to learn Franch language and then she had introduced herself by franch.( the student here have to learn FR is the second languge )
..wow i said and i thought it will be pity if she cant study in the higher.
This is the uniform for the students here.Luang prabang is the small town but i had noticed there are many school but highest in almost school there just only primary school about grade 6. And i also noticed it just only the boy can study in higher classes because they only teach in the temple and they have to be monks too.
But the great expectation of them is gratuate to become a guide tour.
Wat Mai - don't just rush past it!
Wat Mai is a peaceful wat, just alongside the old Royal Palace. The front doors and facade of the sim are very richly decorated, and worth 'reading' for the many interesting features. Phousi rears up high above the wat to the north.
Wat Mai was where the first French delegation stayed, because the then king refused to speak to them. He reckoned they were foreign imperialists come to snatch away his kingdom. Perceptive. The delegation befirended the senior monk who acted a s go-between for the two parties.
I found it by chance and (what a pity!) too late.
In the middle of Sakkarine Road you can find a small shop of massages called "Lotus Massages". Here you can try:
- Feet massage, 3 USD
- Body massage, 6 USD
- Aromatherapy massage, 9 USD
I discovered it on my last night, and tried only the feet massage. You are sit on a "chaise longe" with your feet up. Then the massager sits in front and washes your feet: delicately, strongly, slowly, deeply. Then they wrap your feet in hot towels. Then they start with the right feet: palm oil, fingers massage, sticks massage, finger-by-finger massage... all that during 30-40 minutes! and then the same for the left foot!!
AND at the end you get a "quick" (more than 10 minutes) neck and shoulders massage... all this in a relaxed chill-out atmosphere... you go out of the shop floating!!!
I can't even imagine how the "aromatherapy" massage would be, but have the firm intention to go back and try it some day, LOL
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