when people ask me where to go in southeast asia my mind jumps to Koh Rong, Cambodia / Hanoi, Vietnam / or Luang Prabang, Laos (depending on the day and my appetite.) Luang Prabang embodies the thing i love most about travel: feeling swept away into a different moment in time.
this place is like a 1940's indochina dream. time moves slow and days linger under the rusty sun. monks on morning walks wake you, as the Mekong rolls on the in the background, the life force of the land.
luang prabang will grab you, unexpectedly, suggesting you cancel your plans and forget about everyone and everything beyond these borders—and simply be. sit on a balcony and sip beer lao at sunset. have a morning pastry at le banneton. ask your lover, "what's the story, morning glory?" as you go for the almond croissant, obviously. visit the tea lady in the afternoon, without fail. because she's a hardworking business woman and you've got priorities in a day. plus, how else will you be able to try all her flavors?
come late afternoon perhaps go for a bike ride, wander some more, stop for a sugarcane drink along the road, or maybe an ice cream from the ice cream man by bike.
whatever you do, you let it be. you, here. allow yourself to be charmed by the understated quaintness. the french influence differentiates it from other parts of southeast asia. it's one of those places you where show up for a couple days, and end up staying as long as you can because nothing else feels right. Luang Prabang takes you somewhere you didn't know you could go. it makes you feel like the modern world doesn't exist. which can be a feeling more satisfying than the ice cream and afternoon tea combined.
Go to Luang Prabang if...
you wanna take it slow
you're a balcony and bike ride kinda girl
you take your almond croissants seriously
you want to feel like you're living in a different place in time
waking up to noodle soup makes you smile
no plan is the best plan
why it's special...
it all comes back to the Mekong. the river creates the rhythm here, a slow & strong pace with indochina flair. wake up to it's stillness, drink beer lao on balconies overlooking the rust colored light, sipping slow as the sun takes it's time easing out the day.
THE ROGUE WAY
take the night bus in from Sapa if coming from the North. pay the extra money to stay along the Mekong and wake up to it's morning roll. sit on some more balconies. book a couple extra nights to allow yourself to sink deeper, move slower. rent bikes and ride to the market on the outskirt of town, stop for ice cream along the way, visit the tea lady every afternoon, ride a scooter to kuang si falls, have palm juice for a sweet treat and quail eggs along the main street if you're feeling like a feisty late night snack.
words of wisdom: the bbq duck. i don't know if i should tell you it's the best thing or the worst thing. it's both. it's one dollar. maybe it should have come with a warning. maybe i should've known. i won't say it wasn't worth it, because damn it was good. how duck should taste. but yeah. you get what you pay for.
Lao-style Pho along the Mekong
have the one on phou vao road, to the left of haysoke hotel for breakfast and your heart will thank you. similar to vietnamese pho, but with a richer broth.
what's the story, morning glory? If pho laos isn't for breakfast, then this is. no other option. the almond croissant is everything of my dreams.
Pizza Across the Bridge: Pizza Phan Luang
cross the footbridge for wood fired pizza. so nice to get a pizza and wine fix during your asia travels. this expat cooks a good one. had a lovely evening here. i think he's from boston.
The Thursday Night market is one of the best in SE Asia.
Kuang Si Falls
The roads are safer and quieter than Vietnam and Thailand. Rent a bike for the day and cruise around town, linger in the golden hours and morning light. Take it nice and slow here.
Along the Mekong.
The Tea Lady
My dream woman. If I lived in Luang Prabang, my chosen profession would be to be the Tea Lady. she's such a boss. She must be one of the most adored woman of this town. her imaginative array of sweet liquids she serves up for the masses every day, without fail. Come afternoon the line builds quick. it's like an event. and the best part is watching people choose their combos, as you plot out yours for the day. i always mixed it up. don't feel guilty about spending some daily quality time in the tea lady's hang out spot.
Tried and true combos: Red tea and fresh lime juice (borrowed this one from a local), coconut milk and mango, classic thai iced tea. You really can't go wrong.
this is yummy, all-natural sugar cane juice you'll sometimes find them selling & churning out on the side of the road.