Let's get Lao'd
This is long overdue - it's taken a whole long weekend to get this done since Earth Hour took over my life over the last 6 weeks. But anywho, this Chinese New Year, the parivaar and I went to Laos! Since Laos, I haven't been able to stop thinking about that quiet, simple life among the mountains. It's definitely a place I want to visit again, and hopefully for a longer time. So let's give you the run down. We were in Laos for a whole week and covered two cities - Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng.
Day 1: We took an afternoon flight to Luang Prabang from Singapore and reached at around 6pm. We'd booked an Airbnb (best call) and someone from the venue came to pick us up. We noticed the mountains from the plane. It was the first time they weren't way down below and small, but right on par with us, these giant awesome beasts, and I was mind-blown and in love. Our Airbnb was better than we'd imagined and our host was most welcoming. We had an entire house to ourselves, so you can only imagine the chaos we got up to. We didn't do much this first day, just checked out the night market and ate delicious street food and came back home. So pictures below from L to R: our Airbnb, mini coconut pancakes, lanterns, and coconut husk bowls at the night market. All photos are courtesy iPhone x.
Day 2: We started off the day with a bit of sight seeing at the famous temple - Wat Xieng Thong - & the Royal Palace. Turns out that they were right behind the night market street, we just didn't notice them the night before! We then went on a river cruise along the Mekong to relax and take in some more of that mountain scenery (I just can't get enough really). We then went home for a quick rest and back to the night market area (okay really, everything there is to see is in this area) to catch the sunset at Mount Phousi. After a gorgeous sunset, we ate dinner at one of the fancier restaurants - L'elephant. Photos below from L to R: Royal palace, parivaar in front of Wat Xieng Thong, views & sunset at Mount Phousi.
Day 3: This day was action-packed! We headed to see some caves in the morning which ended up being quite disappointing - just a hole in the mountain with lots of holy idols. But everything was made better when we got to Kuang Si waterfall. This is the best waterfall I've seen ever (of course, I have only seen like 2). The sound of the water, the height of the fall, the blue of the pools... WOW. It was mesmerising. Of course there was a huge crowd which it would have been better without, but I'm not complaining. I even agreed to walk to the top of the falls (why). That part I did complain about because I don't like stairs. Or working out. Especially on holiday. But I have friends that do so there I was, climbing to the top. After this strenuous workout we took a much-deserved break, drank some Beerlao and listened to the falls. We ate dinner at Utopia bar - now this is a good place to catch the sunset and get a few drinks. The bar itself is a bit hard to get to, hidden deep inside small lanes. But it has a fantastic view and good local food, music, and towers of Beerlao. Photos are all Kuang Si.
Day 4: We woke up real early (and hungover) to get our ride from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng. The drive is relatively short (3ish hours) with beautiful scenery of the misty mountains. We got to our hotel (Vang Vieng Sunrise View), got some food and lazed around. At night we went to a bar called La La Land (specifically because they serve shisha). It's a really cool bar with games you can play like giant jenga, bowling, table tennis etc. No photos from this day since we didn't do anything!
Day 5: Real adventurous day this one. Woke up real early for... our hot air balloon ride! Okay this is low key the real reason we wanted to do Laos since we missed our shot at doing the hot air balloon in Myanmar last year. We were all pretty excited and nervous and it was all so worth it! I cannot explain to you the feeling of being so high up, with no shelter (like on a plane), watching the sun rise from between peaks of mountains. Just cannot. So see it all in the pictures. After breakfast and a nap we went straight to Blue Lagoon. This is a naturally formed lagoon (that's obviously blue in colour). You can swim and laze here but also jump off a branch into the water, and trek up to some caves. These caves were legit and the climb up was trying. Pro tip: take the headlamp they give you, don't rely on your phone's torch because you'll need your hands to climb. I loved these caves - you can explore as you wish. I also jumped off the branch into the water (twice) which was terrifying af and I would never do it again but at least I can say I did it, YOLO. That night we got LIT. Hit Sakura bar for the free drinks, the reggae bar, then the club Viva.
Day 6: It took us a long time to get out of bed but eventually we rented some bikes and rode to the water caves. This bike ride was sooo much fun - I got to ride solo! And again, riding empty roads with the mountains beside you.. is a whole other feeling. To get to the caves we had to cross a bamboo bridge (super scary as we didn't think it'd hold the weight of us + the bikes) but the view of the river and the mountains... Sigh. We also had to cross through a village which was really interesting - there were so many little puppers running around it was adorable. At the water caves we sat on tubes and pulled ourselves along a rope into the cave. It was a quick 30min adventure but again, the caves from inside are awesome. They make you feel something else. We then went to Pizza Luka for dinner and called it a night.
Day 7: After two days of wreckage done to our bodies, we did absolute fuckall this day. Stayed in bed and slept for long hours and only got up for food. The boys did go tubing and had crazy amounts of fun but we just couldn't move our bodies. We went to this really cool place called Vimang for lunch. It's run by this old uncle who was brought up in Bangkok but then spent some decades in Germany. He is the sole employee - the cook, the waiter, the cleaner. And his food is delicious AF. You can pick from Thai or German cuisine, and I suggest you try both and his dessert!
Day 8: Left for Luang Prabang early in the morning and spent close to 4 hours at Le Beneton bakery before we had to leave for the airport. Their brunch and coffee are amazing!
All-in-all you must visit Laos for a slice of peace, quiet, adventure and party.