Editor’s note: this used to be a “Top 5” post; but one of my readers reminded me that riding an elephant in Laos is a form of animal cruelty. The reader is right. I didn’t do enough research then because I didn’t really plan on it until I saw it being advertised all over Luang Prabang. Before I signed up, I thought feeding the elephants after the ride was enough. My apologies to the fellas for my mistake of adding to their daily burden. I don’t promote / encourage such activity. Hope this is is clear. Thank you. Cheers!
I don’t usually do “TOP X” lists because for me, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to traveling. When you arrive in a city or a country, what you will experience will always be unique to you. And if you simply open your mind, what you’ll come across with may just change your life even if it’s not in anyone’s top things to do list.
However, I would like to make an exception for this particular blog post because I truly had a FANTASTIC time in Luang Prabang, Laos.
There’s no golden mountain in Luang Prabang or something spectacular visually such as the aurora borealis. But the World Heritage city did not bore me at all because I indulged in many activities when I was there even if I was traveling on the cheap. So here’s what I did which I REALLY loved and if you get there one day, you might as well try the following if they fancy you:
1. Eat the Street food
Nothing new right? But seriously, the street food in Luang Prabang is too interesting to ignore. I enjoyed eating the street food because I didn’t know what they were but every food I encountered was delicious! One example is this:
I don’t know its name and the woman who made it can’t speak a single word of English. I know it’s made of flour (and other “interesting” ingredients? *wink wink*) but it was very tasty. In fact, at one point, I ate about 10 pieces in one sitting. I also enjoyed the street food at the night market (barbequed chicken, pork, veggies, etc). I did eat at restaurants in Luang Prabang just to compare, and all I can say is…street food’s the way to go! It’s as delicious as restaurant food but cheaper!
2. Climb Phou Si Hill
Climbing a hill can be very tiring but when I reached the top of Phou Si, I got to see the entire city and it was breathtaking. It can be quite touristy, but SO WHAT? Point is, you have to enjoy the MOMENT with or without anybody around. I definitely enjoyed my time looking at the river and the horizon from the top (natural high!)- see below.
3. Do a DIY walking tour
When I travel, I usually walk so I could explore even the hidden alleys. Besides, walking is the best way to see a city. So when you’re in Luang Prabang, forget the tuktuk and WALK. I’m not against cycling and I think it’s also a good option (I did that too when I was there), but I enjoyed walking more because it allowed me to take my time without worrying about my bike! Walking also gave me the chance to talk to the people whom I encountered on the streets.
4. Visit Mojo Cafe
I’m a music lover and I’m so glad that I stumbled upon a jazz club there named Mojo Cafe (because I walked and took my time). I spent two nights hanging out at the club and listening to the in-house artists (who played Jaco Pastorius and BB KING!!!) and travelers who shared their talents. So if you love to relax at night with a glass of Scotch and good music, this is the place to be!
Before I end this article, you may wonder why I never mentioned Kuang Si Waterfalls even if it’s one of the top destinations in Luang Prabang. Here’s the deal: I don’t know how to swim. I went there, and it was awesome, it looked awesome and the travelers who took a dip told me that the water was really nice..but then again, I still don’t know how to swim so I can’t tell you first hand if the entire experience is really that great.
I’d still recommend that you go there. But I do hope that you really know how to swim. Otherwise, you’ll end up like me…