Day 5 – To Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang has a lovely feel to the place, with historical sites, monks and a nice tourist touch that is not too overdone. Probably one of the better places I have had the pleasure to visit.
Set off in early morning to Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its numerous Wats and colonial architecture. The initial plan was to reach the town late morning, spend a night there. And early on day 6, take the slow boat up the Mekong River to reach Pakbeng. Then on day 7, continue the slow boat ride up to Huay Xai. But then all the best laid plans went moot when we reached Luang Prabang.
If Vang Vieng was a super-laidback backpacker town, with a nice eco-tourism hub, then Luang Prabang is a quaint city (not much of a city, but we’re talking relative to the term ‘town’ for Vang Vieng). It’s a mixture of old-school Lao chic and European influences, creating a mish-mash of colours. We spent the rest of the day checking out the day market and night market. Granted, LP will probably turn out very touristy soon, but for now, the old world vs new world charm works very nicely. Here’s an article on the NYT for your reading.
Had some souvenirs. More pics here. Probably the only place where you’d be able to find baguettes, bagels, noodles and bak-kwa sold on the same table.
That night, we changed out plans. Instead of taking the slow boat for 2 days, we will skip that altogether. Instead, we will take the 12hr overnight public bus to Huay Xai, a perceived ordeal of a journey that is the lesser of two evils, considering we will die of boredom on the 7hr slow boat ride for two days. By doing this, we save 2 full days. 1 extra day (day 6) to spend in lovely Luang Prabang. and we will reach Huay Xai early day 7, instead of late evening. Thereby, getting 1 day to explore Chiang Rai when we crossover back to Thailand.