Luang Prabang is a town encircled by mountains and set 700m above sea level at the confluence of the Nam Khan and the Mekong river. Luang Prabang’s streets are lined with crumbling French colonial architecture, towering coconut palms, and orange-wrapped Buddhist monks who still occupy 32 of the original 66 historic temples built before the era of French colonisation.
James and i started the day with a Canadian style breakfast : strong Lao coffee (Nam Nom) and a large chocolate donut to share, before climbing the steps up to the 100m high Mount Phu Si. 24m high That Chomsi (erected 1804) sits at the summit but what you really make the climb for is the spectacular view across Luang Prabang and the Khan and Mekong rivers. We picked a lovely time of day to make the climb : just as the morning mist had lifted to reveal a perfectly clear blue sky.
On the descent from the summit is the site of a holy Boddhi tree, where we felt like very foolish tourists scouring the ground for a perfect heart-shaped Boddhi leaf. Apparently they’re quite a valuable item to own here in Laos!
Our afternoon was spent wandering around the handicraft markets and debating whether to take the “tuk tuk waterfall” being offered to us at every corner. Ultimately we decided that the number of tuk tuk drivers offering the ride up to the waterfall must either mean it’s swarming with tourists or not very impressive and therefore not worth the $15 journey up there. Alternatively, maybe we’re just drifting into the laid back Lao way of life . . .As the sun went down the streets of Sisavangvong road were lined with hundreds of food and handicraft stalls which formed part of Luang Prabang’s night market. It’s one of the better night markets i’ve seen, and if you want to buy one of the hand woven silk scarves or shawls or skirts (actually made in Luang Prabang itself) then you’ll get the best price at the night market. James looked like he was finally having fun with the whole bartering idea! The night market is also a great place to eat : Vegetarian or Vegan buffets for 5,000KIP (approximately 25p). However, as James likes his meat we went back to Tom Tom Bamboo for the biggest meal i’ve eaten throughout my entire trip : fresh spring rolls with vegetables and sweet chilli sauce & deep fried cuttle fish, and those were just the starters! Good job James was paying!