DAY 3: LUANG PRABANG
I had a very comfortable sleep during the 10-hr sleeper bus ride from Vientiane to Luang Prabang. We arrived at the Naluang Bus Station at around 6:30 AM. We didn’t actually know how to go from there to our guesthouse. We only know that it’s in the town centre so we asked around how far it is from there. It’s 2km so we thought there’s no way we could walk going there. With our bags. We decided to flag a tuktuk outside the bus station. For some reason, we felt like the tuktuk drivers inside the bus station would charge us more so we went out. The tuktuk driver charged us 10,000 kip each so 40,000 kip for the whole trip. Also, right outside the bus station, we saw some monks doing tak bat. We took pictures from afar as to not disturb their tradition.
My first impression of Luang Prabang – it’s like Baguio. It’s a small town up north and the weather was cold. I think it was around 20 degrees that morning. It’s a good thing I was wearing pants, a turtleneck and my light jacket. I wasn’t expecting that at all! In the coming days of our stay in Luang Prabang, it continued to grow on me and I totally fell in love with this old town.
Our first guesthouse in Luang Prabang is Sabaidee Guesthouse and this is my favorite out of all the hotels / guesthouses / hostels we stayed in during this entire trip. Celine requested for an early check in when she booked it and the owner allowed us – with no extra charge. We checked in at 7:00 AM and instead of giving us two separate rooms like what Celine booked, she gave us the family room instead which I actually prefer more since at least we can all be together. I really like the house cause it’s like an old colonial house that was turned into a guesthouse. I super love the furniture. Ok, I love everything about our room! The bathroom and toilet is huge! They have a fountain in front of the house and the restaurant / bar is outside. They have bikes that you can rent for 10,000 kip for the entire day. Everyone is really nice in this guesthouse and they helped us heaps in booking our Tat Sae / Kuang Si waterfalls escapades. The location is also really good, we can walk from there to anywhere in the town centre. The best thing about it though is the comforter. I swear, I could live in that comforter and never come out. LOL.
We rested a bit and took advantage of the WiFi – come on, we didn’t have internet access for like almost an entire day in Vientiane. We only got to access it for a while when we were having lunch at Mari Rose. After many Instagram and Facebook posts later, we decided to shower and went out for breakfast. We originally planned to go biking around town, however, Mine and Celine can’t do it. We practiced a bit, biking around the house so I had to be satisfied with the video Mine took of me riding a bike. I really wanted to bike around town. 🙁 Lararararara~
We wanted to try Joma Bakery Cafe since it’s popular and very close to our guesthouse. We skimmed through the menu and thought their food and drinks are quite pricey. We sort of have set our meal from 20,000 to 25,000 kip each. LOL. We decided against it and walked back to this Vietnamese restaurant we passed by on the way there. It seems family-owned and it looks comfortable. We’re happy we decided to eat there because Celine wanted to try their pho. I had iced Vietnamese coffee and ham and cheese banh mi. I was super surprised cause their coffee’s HUGE. Seriously. The caffeine in it would definitely last you an entire day. LOL! Also, during our entire stay in Laos, I did eat a lot of different banh mis but theirs is the most delicious. People close to me know that I am quite choosy when it comes to vegetables but the green vegetables they put in my banh mi was super yummy. The flavor of their dressing / mayonnaise is super delish.
After breakfast, we went to the money changer and I think the money changer in Luang Prabang had the best deal. It’s the one located near the post office. It’s even better than the exchange rate on my app. LOL.
Then off we go to Phu Si, a hill located along Sisavangvong Road. There’s a 300-step climb to get to the top, where there’s a Buddhist temple and a good view of Mekong River and Nam Khan. It was definitely a challenge. We were very worried at first cause we’re all in our 30s and not so good at climbing stairs. I don’t do any exercises so I had to stop from time to time. Oh and there’s a 20,000 kip admission fee – quite pricey I think. And if you plan to use the toilet, you have to pay 2,000 kip. The site was amazing though once you’re up there. We definitely took a lot of photos.
We dropped by the food stalls in the town centre to buy lunch / food we can bring to Tat Sae. I just bought a banh mi (again!).We went back to our guesthouse right after because we got tired from climbing up and down Phu Si. Also, we planned to go leave for Tad Sae at around 1:30 PM. What’s great about our guest house is that we can book packages from them. You can book a private tuktuk if you want to go anytime and a van if you want to join a tour with other people but there’s a specific schedule. We decided to book a private tuktuk to take us to Tat Sae that afternoon. The tuktuk costs 190,000 kip so it’s 47,500 kip per person. There were four of us so I think it’s not too bad. It was very easy cause they made the call and we just waited for the driver who will accompany us to the waterfalls. The ride from our guest house to the waterfalls is around 30 minutes. The tuktuk took us to Nam Khan where there are motor boats that will take you to the other side where the waterfall is. You pay an extra 10,000 kip each for the boat. Then the entrance fee is 15,000 kip for the waterfall. I don’t mind all that because it was worth it. Tad Sae is really beautiful, it was my first time to see a cascading waterfalls. You get to swim in the main part of it unlike Kuang Si. You can go anywhere freely, even to the topmost layer but you have to be really careful. The water is really strong and perfect for swimming – the water can be quite cold though. I really enjoyed our stay here. The place also has facilities like toilet, changing rooms, restaurants and tables and chairs for a picnic. I just don’t approve of the elephant riding. I feel bad for the elephants 🙁 We went back to the guesthouse at around 4:00 PM cause the water’s super cold, our 30-year-old bones can’t take it. LOL. Our tuktuk driver accompanied us the entire time and drove us back.
We took some rest after our first waterfalls escapade (Seriously, a lot of rest during this trip and I love it!) and then went out for dinner in the evening. Sisavangvong Road is a sight itself. Whether during day or night. Everything on this road is beautiful. They also close it at night to make way for the night market. This is also where the 15,000 kip buffet is located. Ok, one thing to note about food stalls in Luang Prabang is that they get very territorial when it comes to their tables. LOL. You know how in food courts here in the Philippines, you buy food from a stall and you can eat anywhere? It’s definitely not like that in Laos. You can only stay and eat at designated tables for that specific stall. They will really make you transfer even if you’re already eating. The lady wouldn’t stop blabbing in Lao until you transfer LOL. My veggie buffet was super satisfying – even I was surprised. Drinks are bought separately, my Fanta drink was only 7,000 kip. 🙂
We also walked at the night market for a bit. Ok, I think that the products sold at the Luang Prabang night market are better. I’m so bummed I didn’t buy anything. I read on the internet that stuff in Luang Prabang are more expensive, being a UNESCO World Heritage Site and all so I thought I’d just buy stuff when we go back to Vientiane. I thought I’d find something similar in Vientiane but the quality was just too different. I posted the photo of the teas placed in a hand-painted bag and it was so popular among my friends that they asked me if I could buy for them. It was really cheap, too. It was only 10,000 kip per bag. I’m not really a tea drinker so I didn’t really make anything of it. We went back the following night but it was raining so most of the sellers weren’t there. The tea seller wasn’t there. In the end, I wasn’t able to buy any tea. HUGE BUMMER. But since we plan to come back – hopefully with Ate Rina next time – I will definitely not let this slip between my fingers anymore! Hahaha!
We dropped by a convenience store on the way back to our guest house. See, you don’t really have to bring all the toiletries you need. You can buy the things you need in the place you’ll visit. I’m particularly happy with Lao products. TMI, their menthol sanitary napkin is love love. BWAHAHAHAHA.
It was Celine’s birthday on that day! Mine and Det bought a chocolate cake for her from a bakery on Sisavangvong Road. We sang the Happy Birthday song when we got back to the guest house.
DAY 4: LUANG PRABANG
It’s our second day in Luang Prabang. We tried going the other way so that we can find another place to have breakfast but we still ended up in Sisavangvong Road. It was good to see the other side of the town though. Ok, we’ve spent 2 days in Laos so far and we were like, “Ok, why are there no popos around?” There were not a lot of people and it seemed really peaceful. Everyone’s just biking around, or on their scooters, chatting while driving. Most lax town ever! Haha! But that Monday morning was busy. So we figured, popos take a break on weekends. I cannot say this enough – I love Luang Prabang.
So yeah, we ended up getting breakfast at the food stalls on the corner of Sisavangvong Road / Kitsalat Road (where we bought lunch from the previous day). I didn’t really want anything heavy so I just bought hot coffee (again, really HUGE coffee) and crepe. I really like what I ate! It’s egg and cheese crepe, I like the salty and sweet mixture of it. It’s so nice that super yummy food like this can be bought in such a simple place, at a very cheap palce. Lao food is love. Also, we bought a kind of suman from this woman who was selling it on the road, for only 5,000 kip. We just wanted to try it. I tried searching online what its called but can’t find it. The Europeans on the other table were looking at us when I was trying to open it. It was really good. People close to me know that I’m such a fan of different kinds of kakanin so I really liked this.
Our only activity for the day is to go to Kuang Si Falls and it was scheduled at 11:30 AM, which we also booked it at our guest house. We killed some time inside the room and packed our bags since we’re moving to a different guest house in the afternoon. We checked out and just left our things at Sabaidee before leaving for Kuang Si. It’s a tour along with other people and we only paid 45,000 kip per head. I read online that you can also book such tours at the travel agency near the post office. What’s good about this is that instead of a tuktuk, we rode an air-conditioned van. Yaaas. The driver picked us up second so we were able to get good seats inside the van. It was a very comfortable ride, albeit the nonstop chatter of the 3 people at the back. It was still tolerable when we were on the way to the falls.
45 minutes later, we arrived at Kuang Si. The driver collected the entrance fee (20,000 kip) from us and then proceeded to the falls. We were told to come back at 3:00 PM so we had almost 3 hours to roam around the falls. Ok, Kuang Si Waterfalls is beyond beautiful. I really have no words! You can’t really swim in the main falls because according to my friend, there’s a sign that says there are monkeys or snakes in the area. I didn’t see it though. It’s really just for taking pictures. But the falls extends and extends to smaller waterfalls, similar to Tat Sae. We changed into our swimming attires and jumped into the cold water in the area where most people were swimming. Ohmigoodness though, the water’s super cold. It was cold in Tat Sae but the water here is freezing! Also, it can be quite dangerous because it just gets deep all of a sudden. You really have to be careful or you’ll drown if you can’t swim. I had a mini heart attack when I was floating and then decided to stop, only to find out that I’ve gone into the deep area. Good thing, I had my friend’s inflatable neck pillow with me. We swam for a bit and took pictures, admired cute boys and then went back to the table. It was super cold though – I was literally shivering, so I changed into dry clothes not long after.
Before going back to the van, we passed by the bear sanctuary, took some pictures and then walked to the van. We couldn’t find the van and walked back to the parking lot. I freaked out when I didn’t see the van at the parking lot. It turns out, it was way outside the gate. I got super tired from walking and it didn’t help that it started to rain. It’s a good thing I had a raincoat with me.
Ok, this was the worst ride going back ever, and my friends totally agree with me on this. And I’m sure the other riders in the van, too. Those 3 people at the back were super noisy and wouldn’t stop talking. Seriously, they have probably talked about anything and everything under the sun. They wouldn’t shut up. The other riders were already looking at them but they can’t seem to get a clue. We wanted to get some shuteye but it was freaking impossible. Seriously, they were the only ones talking in the van. It was super annoying.
Anyway, the van stopped at the post office so we had to walk back to our guest house. Grabbed our stuff and walked to our next guest house – Phanthasone. It’s located at the end of Kitsalat Road and near the riverside. So we decided to re-route and walked along the riverside road to see what’s in there. It was a good decision! We found that there are a lot of hidden guest houses on that other side, as well as restaurants with a view of Mekong River. We were excited to have dinner cause we knew we’d do it there. It wasn’t hard for us to spot Phanthasone because one of our co-riders in the trip earlier was picked up from there. There was a mix-up with our reservation though. To make the long story short, it was Agoda’s fault and the owner said that it has happened in the past. Their mistake though is that, if it has happened in the past, they should have taken it up with Agoda to fix things. Luckily, things went our way in the end because even if we had to add 60,000 kip (so 15,000 kip per pax), we ended up getting 2 private rooms instead of 4 dorm beds. I appreciate that the owner did his best to rectify the situation because it’s not our fault nor theirs. I was really happy with our private room. 🙂
In all fairness, the guest house is small but I really liked the room. I really liked the design of the ceiling and the little pieces of art around the room. The bathroom is quite spacious, too. We didn’t really use the AC – just fan cause both Celine and I were quite sick that day (due to Kuang Si’s super cold water!). The room was quite cool even if we only used the fan overnight. They also have free tea and coffee – too bad we weren’t able to take advantage cause we didn’t really stay there for long. The best thing about it though is its location. It’s both near Sisavangvong Road and the riverside, so we had the best of both worlds.
We rested for a bit and then went out for dinner. We walked along the riverside and found a simple place. There was only one other group in the restaurant so we decided to have dinner there. I had sore throat so I was craving for some hot noodles, but I ordered pineapple-coconut shake so it sort of defeated the purpose. LOL. The shake was super delicious though! Their noodles was delicious but it had too many green stuff, which I was not a fan of. I gave them all to Celine. LOL.
We wanted to go to Luang Prabang Bowling Alley but we realized that it’s quite far. We’d have to take a tuktuk going there and back. We planned to just go walk along Sisavangvong Road since there are a lot of other places to go to but being the lola than I am, I felt sleepy after dinner. LOL. Also, it started raining. We decided to go back at the night market but there wasn’t a lot of sellers due to the rain. We went back to the guest house and went to bed.