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Most people only think of Vang Vieng and river tubing when they think of Laos. Most people skip this amazing little town called Luang Prabang, located in the north central part of Laos.

They say that the Buddha smiled when he rested in Luang Prabang for a day during his travels, prophesying that it would one day be the site of a rich and powerful capital city. Indeed in the 13th century A.D., that town became a powerful capital of the kingdom of Lan Xang.

I didn't want to be one of these people so I made sure that Luang Prabang would be the first city on my first time traveling solo. Let me tell you exactly what you would be missing if you skipped this quiet, little town:

Slow Boat Ride on the Mekong River

I took the 30-hour bus ride to get to Luang Prabang from Vietnam. However, if you crossed from the Thailand side to get to Laos, there's a more scenic way to get to this city.

Sailing Down the Mekong (Color)
Photo Credit: Meredith Randall
The trip takes 2 days, with 9 hours of travel each day. The boat cruises slowly along the Mekong river giving you a glimpse of rural life, fishing villages and nature. They say that this is one of the top things that you shouldn't miss out when on the Southeast Asia backpacker trail. I'm definitely coming back just for this!

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Photo Credit: dominiqueb
Alms-giving Ceremony

Everyday, between 6 to 7 am, monks walk around town collecting alms of rice for their daily sustenance. It took me 3 days of trying before I actually managed to wake up and experience this rare spectacle.

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Photo Credit: birgerhoppe
Although this was an amazing experience, you should only attend the alms-giving ceremony if you've prepared the food yourself. Some locals have used this as a way to earn money by selling unsafe and unhealthy food and sticky rice to tourists. I was told that some monks have fallen ill because of this.

If you really want to partake in this ceremony, it would be wise if you went with a local. Or ask your guesthouse staff to arrange the visit for you.

Monks
Photo Credit: tallphil
Don't even get me started on taking photos. Put yourself in the monks' shoes and imagine how annoying it is to have 15767 tourists taking your photos everyday. It can drive anyone mad! Some idiots even use flash and put your expensive SLRs right in front of the monks' face!

Keep your distance, observe from afar and grab photos from the internet to immortalize the moment forever.

Night Market

Question: What can you get for 10,000 LAK (2.50 USD) at the night market located along the main street of Luang Prabang?
Answer: All-you-can-eat noodles, vegetables, fruits, rice and so much more!

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After stuffing your face silly with all that buffet goodness, you can shop to your heart's content from the many stalls that stretch along the main street. Or if you're like, ahem...me, shop only as much as your meager backpacker's budget will allow. A wrap-around skirt (4 USD), Beer Lao shirt (1 USD), a tube dress (3 USD) was all that my meager budget would allow.

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Free The Bears Rescue Center

Just an hour's ride away from the city center, right at the entrance of Tat Kuang Si Park, you can find the cutest, most adorable creatures you'll ever see. They'll make you go goo-goo and gaga over them.

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The center now has 23 bears that have been rescued from poachers and traffickers. They have been given a new life, a new home and a playground! Now, all they need is a t.v. and someone to take care of their cable management and they'll be all set.

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If you want to help free the bears, you can donate through the Free The Bears online shop.
Kuang Si Waterfalls

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Ahhhhh! That's what your reaction will be when you see this place. I know that's how I felt like when I saw my first glimpse of this paradise. I love this place so much that we went again the very next day! This is definitely one of the highlights of my stay in Luang Prabang, hands down.


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Still dreaming about Luang Prabang,
Sole Sister Chichi
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23 Responses so far.

  1. Jonna B. says:

    Beautiful falls! I am planning a Southeast Asian BRATpacking trip next year and I definitely want to be wowed by that! WOW!

  2. neldeleon says:

    I want to try that slow boat ride on the Mekong river - I will call that 'cultural immersion'. :) The falls is just fantastic. I want to experience this too! :) safe journeys for you sole sisters!

  3. Next to bargain hunting at the night market, experiencing that "ahhhh" moment at this amazing paradise is at the top of my list.

  4. tina says:

    Oh my, the waterfalls is just gorgeous! Stay safe :)

  5. Chichi says:

    You will definitely be wowed Jonna! Can't wait for your adventures.

  6. Chichi says:

    Slow boat on the Mekong would truly be a cultural immersion Nel! Thanks for following our adventures, happy travels too!

  7. Chichi says:

    I loved the night market stalls but Kuang Si definitely made the whole trip for me! Update us when you will be doing the SEA journey too.

  8. Chichi says:

    I fear gorgeous might be an understatement ;) Thanks Tina!

  9. roman leo reyman says:

    Wow! Amazing waterfalls! Paradise, indeed. :)

  10. Marky says:

    It's not only an amazing adventure so far for the both of you but also a continuous journey to new discoveries. The wonderful waterfalls is like the icing on the cake. 

  11. Chichi says:

    It definitely is paradise Roman!

  12. Chichi says:

    That's what makes travel so addicting, Marky! The endless possibilities, the never-ending adventure and a chance to discoversomething new everyday. It's exhilirating.

  13. Flipnomad says:

    Luang Prabang is (probably) the most beautiful and photogenic city in Southeast Asia... havent been to the falls yet (still have 2 weeks left in this city) ... and the pics reminded me of another beautiful falls ive seen in the Philippines, kawasan falls in cebu... clear blue-green water... sarap maligo!!!

  14. supertikoy says:

    i'm in jealous mode...i hope i can fix my schedule so work can allow me to take a longer vacation leave next year...about taking photos of the monks, can I just use lenses with longer range so I wont interrupt their activity...sorry can help but click away sometimes.

    thanks for sharing!

  15. Chichi says:

     For shame that you haven't been there, Flip! Grab the nearest tuk-tuk and get to Kuang Si, NOW! I loved that place so much.

    I have a confession though, I haven't been to Kawasan yet. For shame eh? And to think it's in my hometown. I have to remedy that soon.

  16. Chichi says:

    I'm sure you'll find a way to do that tikoy! One of the can't-be-missed places in Laos, definitely.

    If you really really feel the need to take pictures of the alms-giving ceremony, then that would be the best option. Let's all try not to be intrusive and respect this tradition.

  17. Steve says:

    I actually missed out on seeing Laos when I traveled through Southeast Asia.  I knew I would be missing out on a lot, but unfortunately I didn't have enough time.  At least I can follow your adventures and see what I have looking forward to me when I do finally get there.

  18. Carl says:

    Super Inggit! That's my reaction. =)

  19. Chichi says:

     And we just got started Steve! More Laos adventures to come and hopefully it will make you book that next flight back to Southeast Asia!

  20. Chichi says:

    Carly, don't be. I'll take you here sometime in the future. We'll make sure of that!

  21. 3sh says:

    my friend and i will be there on september..i cant wait

  22. Chichi says:

    I'm so excited for you Trish! Can't wait to hear your adventures in this wonderful city.

  23. jee says:

    wow...u sole sisters really inspire me. i am hoping to get there someday.

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