Having just finished our amazing month in Vietnam, we hopped on a bus in Hanoi and made off for their landlocked neighbor, Laos.
Normally the transport is not worth commenting on…but this one is.
Because the bus was 26 hours long. TWENTY SIX! That’s a full day PLUS TWO MORE HOURS for all you math aficionados.
Despite the fact that it was a sleeper bus and we had the back seats (which albeit it shared with 4 other people was actually pretty comfortable) I will never do something like that again.
EVER. Between the bouncing around, the constant blaring of the horn, the frequent stops to pick up/drop off mystery cargo (stored in the aisle of the bus), the non-stop blaring of Vietnamese music, the girl in front of me incessantly falling asleep sitting straight up with her head in the aisle next to her where my feet were supposed to go (try to picture that, it was truly a feat of human elasticity) all mixed in with my lovely claustrophobia made for a really, really awful ride. Someone even found a dog on the side of the road…and brought it on the bus. Even my dog-obsessed travel partner did not approve.
Thankfully we were going to a place like Luang Prabang.
Laos was a country I had heard very little about during my life before this trip and was one we almost skipped for just that reason. Luckily for us, enough of the travelers we met along the way had insisted LP was not to be missed so we made it a point to stop there on our way back to Thailand.
Despite the misery of the bus ride, one respite we did have was looking out the window at the stunningly beautiful Laos countryside. Ceaseless rolling hills blanketed with lush, green forest – although you can’t tell it from this photo.
We mercifully arrived in Luang Prabang at about 9AM and began the search for accommodation (in SE Asia there is no need to book ahead of time; you can stop in almost any town and easily find a place for $5/person). Our friend from the bus, Carlos from Chile, decided on a hostel and we picked a cheap little B&B the next street over.
That day we explored the city, a small quiet town nestled in next to the famed Mekong River. It is quite a touristy place but yet is one of the rare ones that retains its local charm.
We watched the sunset from atop Mt. Phousi, LP’s highest hill (not a mountain, took 4 minutes to climb). From up there, the country’s natural beauty was once again on display.
The next morning we set off for Luang Prabang’s most famous attraction, the Kuang Si Waterfalls. Located about 30km southwest of the city, we shared a tuk tuk with some friends we had met at a bar the night before and arrived a little after 9AM.
The short walk to the falls takes you past an endangered bear sanctuary where we found these beautiful creatures lazing around in their posh manmade habitat (most animal-related facilities in SE Asia are questionable in regard to their treatment of the animals; we’ve heard across the board that this was one of the few good ones).
We bid adieu to our furry friends and continued to the falls. Behold the sight the lay before us…
Just absolutely stunning.
Perfectly turquoise water caressing its way over white and beige rocks surrounded by lush rainforest. But that wasn’t even the best part…this was:
The sunlight was certainly working in my favor for this shot and I must say that it almost does the falls’ beauty justice. We then found a little trail next to these big falls which climbed above them (it was straight up…) which provided another breathtaking view of the surround area – this time from high up.
Tired and sweaty from scaling the falls we cruised back to the bottom and fell into one of the lower pools for a couple hours. The water was delightfully cool and refreshing – think I could have stayed in there forever despite the occasional nibbling from the resident fish (they love scabs…mmmm).
Here is a video with some of our friends:
And of course a couple obligatory GoPro jumping-in-water shots…
We then took the tuk tuk (that’s fun to say) back to Luang Prabang, chilled out the rest of the day and gorged on some amazing vegetarian buffet food that night which cost…get ready for it…75 cents. That’s right all you buffet lovers – this was authentic Laos cuisine, all you can eat of it – for 75 cents.
I love this place.
And just in case you forgot, here’s this one more time…