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What to do in Luang Prabang

Posted by on Dec 11, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 0 comments

I have put together a list of my personal recommendations for you. What to do and what to look out for in the most beautiful city of Laos, Luang Prabang. There are maaany things! Monks, temples, adventure activities, waterfalls, ethnic villages, cooking class, caves… are fun ways to spend your time here. If you like to get engaged with the locals and help out in the community or spend a bit of your time teaching English to the monks, I have listed the right places to see, too. Here is my list – Top sights in and around Luang Prabang Temples, temples, temples. If you are under time constraints do not miss the two most impressive: Wat Xieng Thong and the golden Stupa on Phousi Hill!   Attend the most beautiful ceremony in Luang Prabang. Alms giving to the...

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Flower Power and Massage

Posted by on Nov 2, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 0 comments

Soft touch is what I need. ‘Hurts so good‘ or ‘Pain is weakness leaving your body‘ are slogans I do not understand.There are massage devotees that swear to deep tissue massage while swearing right through it. If tissues are deep, they are hidden for a reason, all I am looking for is a smooth pampering of upper layers. Generally, I am not a big fan of any massages as they are usually to strong for my oh so sensitive body. For most people the amount of pressure applied to various muscles is fine and enjoyable, however for me, it often is a rollercoaster ride of pleasure and pain. As a known germaphobe I cannot help but to think that rubbing microworlds of bacteria into my skin, isn’t a good idea at all. In fact the best masseuse for me...

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Vientiane – what to do in the capital of Laos

Posted by on Nov 1, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 0 comments

The capital of Vientiane has little of a bustling central city. It projects village atmosphere and the amount of tourist attractions is narrow. Most hotels are located in this touristy part, which makes it easy to explore the city, even by foot. To visit Vientiane we did not need to take tuktuk rides nor rent a bike. There is not that much to do really but it is a pleasant place to visit for a day or two. Here is a list of things, if you don’t know where to start: Feel golden at the most important religious monument dating back to the 16th century, That Luang Stupa.   Patuxay – the Victory Gate or Gate of Triumph, is the landmark in Vientiane and situated right in the city’s centre, in the middle of a big roundabout.   The...

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Festivals in Lao – like Boat Racing

Posted by on Oct 31, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 0 comments

Once a year, the boat racing festival takes place in Luang Prabang and transforms the city into a fun fair. It just so happened that we arrived from China on that day in Laos. It was our first day and the party was full on! People flock to the streets and crowd along the riverbanks. Everybody is keen to watch the slimmest boats I have ever seen, race along a designated length on the brown waters on the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers. The boats, resembling narrow, light and elongated nutshells, are packed with oarsmen. Those rowers give everything to stir up the waters and push their team forward. What a sight! Team red.   Team red-shirt racing against team white-shirt. Doesn’t it look like the rowers are under water waist down?   End point of...

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Beauty and the beast – Lao waterfalls and bear sanctuary

Posted by on Oct 28, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 2 comments

In every country I am able to find beauty and enchantment, yet every once in a while I come across situations that make me witness a darker side of reality. No country is without flaws – and tragically, this burden is often carried by suffering animals. The beauty of nature in Laos, reflected by the fantastic waterfalls of Kuang Si and contrasting sight of abused black bears, reflecting the beasty nature of humans is presented to tourists as a combined attraction. The path to get to Kuang Si waterfalls is leading through a bear sanctuary. The sanctuary houses black bears, rescued from the horrors of circus shows and ruthless intentions of private owners. Once brutally chained and abused, the bears will spend the rest of their days at the sanctuary, in zoo-like activity areas behind high fences. Although I...

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Insiders perspective – caves and villages in Luang Prabang

Posted by on Oct 26, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 0 comments

We had a great time in Luang Prabang… doesn’t quiet cut it. It was more like wonderfully marvellous. Me, not at all the nature lover backpacker, truly took joy in the dense vegetation of the elongated peninsula and village character of Luang Prabang – a somewhat magically enchanted city. The drumming and chanting of the monks, the temples, the romantic facets of by-gone French architecture, the small streets without traffic, the occasional bike and orange robed monks… as if the trend-formula of ‘slow’ life had originated right here. I recall to seriously enjoy a slow boat ride and the following exploration of caves. Pak Ou are not just empty caves, they are enigmatically filled with countless Buddha statues. The other sight was the livelihood of Lao village people, on our way to Pak Ou – which opened my eyes...

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Gems of Luang Prabang: Wat Xieng Thong and Royal Palace

Posted by on Oct 24, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 0 comments

Luang Prabang offers laid back sightseeing and it is impossible to miss the Royal Palace, as it is just in the centre of the city, but with an abundance of beautiful Wats, make sure not to skip the oldest and most magnificent temples, Wat Xieng Thong. Wat Xieng Thong means temple of the golden city and although it is not nearly as gold coloured as Vientiane’s stunning stupa, it compensates and shines in detail. It is part of a complex which includes the main temple in typical Lao architecture, surrounded by a few small shrines and a royal barge building to store ceremonial boats, built in 1580 by King Setthathirath. As we went in the evening (at around 6pm) there was no admission fee to be paid (although during the day there is) but the best happening was our chance...

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Vientiane’s treasures: Buddha Park and That Luang Stupa

Posted by on Oct 23, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 0 comments

If you fancy some unconventional Buddhist craziness in Laos and the idea of entering an overdimensional pumpkin through a wide-open mouth in order to transcend from hell to earth to heaven, doesn’t scare you – you are the right candidate for Vientiane’s Buddha Park. Buddha Park (Xieng Khuan) is located a 40 minute drive from Vientiane, about 24km south of the capital. The park is an open air space (bring an umbrella/sun protection) with many sculptures and statues from Buddhist and Hindu tradition. Built in 1958 by philosopher and shaman priest Bunleua Sulilat who constructed religious and mythological icons out of reinforced concrete, it is considered one of the major sights of Vientiane, despite the distant location. Sadly Bunleua Sulilat fled the country to Thailand due to communist repression. The park is now state owned. Sulilat has made another...

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Traditional Treats: Luang Prabang night market & Lao fashion

Posted by on Oct 10, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 2 comments

Luang Prabang is the fourth biggest city in Laos and a true gem in Asia. No high rises, no shopping malls, not even a cinema, yet a tourist paradise. Luang Prabang is drawing more and more tourists each year, yet it has managed to keep its authenticity without ever becoming tacky. And that is especially true of  unique merchandise. The Night Market of Luang Prabang is said to have the most extensive collection of handicrafts for sale in Laos. It so happened that from our hotel balcony, we could overlook the most popular and colourful shopping distraction in Luang Prabang. A whole street transforms in the city’s centre at around 5 pm, to create one long open air market, with friendly ladies selling their home made products – up until 10 pm when everyone packs up. No hassle, no...

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Crazy things I saw in Laos

Posted by on Oct 9, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 0 comments

Laos is an unspoilt and beautiful country. It is tranquil and inhabited by friendly people who like to laugh and enjoy themselves, happy despite rainy seasons! I found a few pics that will do just the same for you.   Have fun with the crazy stuff I saw in Laos!     Souvenir from “Laos”.   Signs of peace adorn temples.   Main police station of the fourth largest city, Luang Prabang.   Shoe free zone a the temple.   Make a wish.   Sticky rice. So sticky it sticks.   Aiming high. Colourful crepe Japanese style.   (Free range) chicken on the street.   Drive through roasted pig.   Jungle bikes.   Who said fluffy slippers are only to be worn around the house?   Hell yeah!   Customised Lao pedestrian sign.   Do not order PAIN cake!...

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Tomek Tarzan, me Jane – Ziplining in Laos

Posted by on Oct 8, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 0 comments

As if life isn’t painful enough. I have entered a new level of risk and fear. And I am not talking about flying China Eastern, nor Southern. Flying is an understatement. I went ziplining. Let me make it clear — I love to stay with both feet on the ground. I am from the ballet and yoga division. I don’t engage in adventure sports. I don’t raft, dive, parachute, bungee jump. Not voluntarily. Ziplining is a verb that does not appear in my repertoire. And yet, in Laos, I was hanging in the jungle, attached to a rope. Call it fear fun of a lifetime! Laos is the place for adventure tours and ziplining is just one option on the activity list. We decided to test our bodies on something new and booked a zipline adventure at and above...

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Creating Lao Cuisine at Cooking Class

Posted by on Oct 7, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 2 comments

One of the pleasures of being a perpetual traveler (to me) is going out to eat. Partly as a necessity – our hotels and apartments do not come with dinner… but mostly, I consider it a great luxury and highlight of the day. Not having to cook, nor do the dishes or spend hours shopping for groceries. Such a comfort. However, today we entered new terrain. A kitchen! We were going to cook a three course meal for ourselves. In the sleepy romantic city of Laos, at Luang Prabang’s best cooking class. For some reason Tamarind is not my favourite restaurant in Luang Prabang but they do offer entertaining and professional cooking (or so concluded our review comparison on the net). Booking a cooking session was easy, pricey and… worth it. 27 USD per person, 9.00 to 15.00, it...

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Tour of the local market in Laos

Posted by on Oct 6, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 0 comments

This is not the blog post to chicken out. I am going to give you a (video) tour of a market in Luang Prabang. Not just on herbs and spices and the nice clean green stuff. Nope, we are going to go all the way to the meat section and zoom in on some of the more flashy fleshy food. A visit to a local market is an eye opener to culinary customs in Laos. You will see all the vegetables and greens, fragrant herbs and everything else to accompany traditional sticky rice. Above all, be prepared to see animals and animal parts that you will not find on western tables. Congealed blood, animal foetus, buffalo and pig uterus, buffalo skin, offal, bile, rodents, wild caught animals, farmed frogs, birds, bugs and insects… are just one too many reasons...

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Lao food and favourite restaurants

Posted by on Oct 5, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 0 comments

Lao cuisine has similarities to Thai cooking and is just as delicious. Laos is well prepared to care for hungry tourists. All restaurants have English menus and the restaurant staff usually speak enough English to be able to customize orders if need be. The prices for food are very accessible. You can eat at food stalls for which is incredibly cheap or at restaurants (still very cheap). We paid on average 10-15 Euros for two meals, starters and fruit shakes while eating at the best restaurants in town. Lao people are friendly and trying to fulfil customers wishes as much as possible. The menus have a good variety of dishes, ranging from Lao eats (like laab and jeow) to typical western tourist dishes (pizza and pasta) and European breakfasts (muesli, toast, eggs). The fresh fruit shakes and platters are...

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Walking up Phousi Hill in Laos

Posted by on Oct 4, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 0 comments

The centre of Luang Prabang is dominated by a hill that offers magnificent 360° views over the city. You can walk up Phousi hill through a gorgeous forest, flanked by the occasional frangipani and hibiscus. I have separated my Laos flower pics to another post – instead I like to show you the fantastic temple structures on the hill. On top of Phousi you will find the prominent golden stupa, also known as Wat That Chomsi. In the very back, on top of the green hill (and behind those black Asian cables) you can see the golden stupa. Let’s go up!   It is over 200 steps (numbers vary to up to over 300 – I should’ve done a count!). You can walk up the hill from two sides. If you walk up one side and down the other...

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Cheap but great hotels in Luang Prabang and the capital of Laos

Posted by on Oct 3, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 0 comments

Why Laos? The service, food and the people are generally fantastic in Laos. It reminds us of what Thailand, Bangkok was 17 years ago, when we first visited. Unspoiled by tourists. Friendly locals, good restaurants, no mass tourism but great accommodation for slim budgets. Nature, waterfalls and adventure tours. Enough entertainment not to get bored but also the place to lay back with a good book. While the capital Vientiane has chosen to move towards modernity with first shopping malls and big hotels emerging, Luang Prabang has tastefully preserved its traditional ancient look and bygone French flair. We liked the tranquil and rural quality of Laotian cities so much that we decided to stay in Luang Prabang all the way until it was time to disembark for our (rented) home in Japan by the end of September. No need...

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Luang Prabang – charismatic city of the monks

Posted by on Oct 2, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 0 comments

Luang Prabang is located between the Mekong and the Khan river with lush vegetation on the slim peninsula. In its centre stands a small mountain called Phousi hill (a bit of a strange name if you are an English speaking person). The hill is topped with a beautiful golden stupa. The city is marked by Buddhist tradition. There are over thirty temples, most intricately adorned, housing several hundred monks, who enrich the town with their orange-robed presence. Every morning the people of Luang Prabang line the streets to offer food and pay respect to the monks. The monks form a procession through town to receive alms, between 5.30 to 6 am, making for one of the biggest tourist attraction in town. Luang Prabang is a city that we came to visit for only a few days but got captured...

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