Arrive in Luang Prabang | Cruise Mekong River

Arrive in Luang Prabang

Arrive in Luang Prabang

You’ll know you’re getting close to Luang Prabang when the river widens and you see the oft-visited caves on your right side.

There’s a new Lao-owned vegetarian restaurant open near the Hotel Villa Deux Rivieres in Luang Prabang; all their proteins are made from tofu and assembled to look like chicken, beef, eggs or pork (pictured).

I strongly suggest you have your accommodations booked prior to your arrival. If you don’t, it’s likely that you’re going to be swarmed by canvassers the moment you step off the boat. You don’t need the hassle; if you haven’t booked a hotel, ignore everyone and walk up the hill, turn left and drop your bags at the first riverside restaurant you see. Enjoy a Lao Beer or two over the Mekong and wait for the crowds to disperse. When it’s all clear, then you can head out and look for a place to sleep.

I recommend the Hotel Villa Deux Rivieres; a gorgeous new hotel with a ton of ambiance. We were working on a luxury travel story in LP but we’d come back here for a stay in a heartbeat.

Things to Consider:

1. The waterfalls close to Luang Prabang, while oft-visited by tourists, are a great place to relax and spend a bit of time swimming. Pink eye can be a problem during the rainy season, though. Keep that in mind.

2. Always ask a monk before you take his picture (if you’re close enough that he notices you). I see a lot of rude tourists shove their cameras into a monk’s face and click away. Don’t. You wouldn’t like it – neither do the monks, who have to put up with constant attention from tourists in Luang Prabang. Be respectful. Be doubly respectful during the Alms Giving in the morning.

3. Luang Prabang is the most comfortable town in Laos; it’s unlike the rest of the country (save for parts of the capital). Don’t expect free wifi, hot showers or working electricity if you venture into the country after your stay here.

4. Visit the real LP; the part of town where locals actually live. Stop in at a rural village. While the UNESCO Old City of LP is a wonderful place to visit, it’s not all there is to Luang Prabang.

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang

5. Visit Tamarind Restaurant. The Laos food here is exceptional; a lot of care and effort goes into these dishes. The quality of food increases the further you venture toward the conflux of the two rivers (and the further you get from the main backpacking zone!). Also try Three Nagas if you’re looking for upmarket Laos fair.

6. Don’t be afraid of Laos food; it is sensational. Try as much street food as you can. As long as it has been cooked (don’t eat raw veggies!) you should be fine.

7. Enjoy yourself. Luang Prabang is one of Asia’s most alluring town’s for good reason. It’s easy to lose yourself here for a long time.

8. Don’t bother renting a motorbike here; $25 a day is mental in South East Asia. It’s cheaper (and easier!) to rent a jumbo (large tuk-tuk) with a driver. Split the cost with friends, pay your driver for the day and stop wherever you like.

9. Skip Vang Vieng, on the way out, unless you’re looking for Spring Break: Asian Edition.
Don’t act like an asshole with a camera; be respectful when shooting monks. Treat these young (and old) men with the respect they deserve. If you walked up to a priest in the USA, blocked his path and shot 15 pictures of him he’d probably punch you in the nose. You would deserve it.

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