Saturday, March 7, 2009

Laid-back Luang Prabang

Idyllic, charming, relaxed, laidback - these are some of the terms used to describe Luang Prabang. It is all that, and more; and more importantly, it had to be felt in person.

The former royal capital of Laos, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, and while tourism have not reached the levels seen in Thailand or Vietnam, there is a nagging feeling that it eventually would. For now though, there is an air of resistance to ...hectic-ness if you will, and if you stay in Luang Prabang for a day or two, your pace of life would inevitably slow down to match the feel of the city.

The city-centre, esp Xiang Thong road is pretty much lined with tourist shops and facilities. However, a couple of minutes of walk away, and the atmosphere changes quickly. My favourite part of Luang Prabang would be the riverside of Nam Khan, one of the tributaries of the mighty Mekong. One can easily pass by an afternoon sitting in one of the cafes by the river, observing local life and drinking their local beer. Beer Lao, at US$1 for a 640ml bottle, has become a daily beverage for my stay in Laos!
There are a number of tourist attractions around, including the multitudes of wats in the city. Slow boats let you cruise the river, a walk up Phou Si hill lets you have a beautiful view of the city and river, and many side trips bring you to the outskirts of the city, touring caves and waterfalls. But one of the more interesting "attraction" would be watching the alms-giving procession for the monks that occur every morning before 6am. I used the word "attraction" because bus-loads of tourists actually come to witness this!

But the real attraction for me, is that a stay in Luang Prabang gives you what a real holiday entails - an idyllic, charming, relaxed and laidback time to soothe your soul.


Anonymous said...

i have fond memories of LP too. the school kids that were distracted by our cameras...the chilly but scenic boat ride to pak ou chance to lose our way becos we can always see mount phousi,eating bbq fish bought from the night market...
there's really not much to "see" at LP, but this is the place to nua away the afternoon.我认为那是旅游真正的意义。


Wanderer said...

yeah, really good place to relax... mabbe also bcoz I had a tough trip to northern Laos, so when I reached back LP, really feel relax! :)