The Magic of Luang Prabang: The Charms Behind this Trendy City

As the world of travel has opened up, I find myself among many fellow travelers looking for unique destinations, away from the busy tourist spots of old. That’s why I’m drawn to places like Laos. It has a special charm that hasn’t been widely discovered yet. What fascinates me the most is its rich cultural heritage rooted in Buddhist traditions. Luang Prabang is an ancient town and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It feels like stepping back in time. And that’s exactly what I’m looking for. The following post is just a teaser for what you can expect and why Luang Prabang is trending.

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Change of Plans

Bali or Luang Prabang

We had originally planned to head back to Bali, but the traffic, prices, and Russian invasion on the island, pun intended, made me rethink my options. I loved Bali from the moment I stepped on that island for the first time 8 years ago. It was pristine.

The news was getting out, and traffic was picking up, but you could still get a beautiful villa – with food, cleaning services, and many other amenities for a decent price. Seminyak and Kuta were already touristy.

But Ubud, while popular with the yoga crowd, was still relatively secluded, and Canggu was off the beaten path. Now you have to escape to the far north in places like Sideman to get away from the hordes. But even secluded Sideman won’t stay like that forever because everyone is searching for the lush forests, mystic waterfalls, and perfectly plotted rice terrace fields of our dreams. And that, my friends, is why we came to Laos instead.
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Where is Laos?

Golden Triangle

Lol, I told a few people we were going to Laos, pronounced with and without the “s” and they hadn’t heard of it.

Laos is a landlocked country located in Southeast Asia. But now that I’m here it doesn’t feel landlocked. The mighty, and muddy, Mekong River is huge and ever present. Laos shares its border with five countries: Vietnam to the east, China to the north, Cambodia to the southeast, Thailand to the west, and Myanmar (Burma) to the northwest. The country’s terrain is characterized by rugged mountains and fertile valleys, with the Mekong River playing a central role in its geography and culture.

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The Mekong River

The Mekong River is one of the longest rivers in Asia. It flows through Laos from north to south and is essential for the country’s agriculture, transportation, and trade. Many towns and cities, including the capital, Vientiane and Luang Prabang are situated along it’s shores.

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UNESCO World Status

Luang Prabang is a city located in northern Laos and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. It is known for its rich history, ancient temples, and stunning French colonial architecture. The buildings are so beautiful, UNESCO designated Luang Prabang as a World Heritage Site for its well-preserved cultural, historic, and architectural significance.

The city is nestled between the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, and it is home to the stunning Wat Xieng Thong Temple, one of the premier temples in Laos architecture and the breathtaking Kuang Si Waterfalls, a tiered waterfall with turquoise pools and cascading waters, considered one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world.

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Why Luang Prabang is Trending

Interestingly, despite its increasing popularity as a tourist destination, Luang Prabang has managed to retain its tranquil atmosphere and traditional charm. There are not many people here. There are no traffic lights, 7-Elevens, Starbucks, or McDonald’s in Luang Prabang. And their absence is not missed. These common fixtures of urban life often detract from a city’s allure. And as a result, visitors to Luang Prabang experience a more authentic and serene side of Laotian culture.

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A Little History Lesson about Laos

Laos has a rich history that dates back thousands of years, but its modern history was greatly affected by the Vietnam War. During the Vietnam War in the 1960s and early 1970s, Laos became embroiled in conflict as the United States sought to counter the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. Though officially neutral, Laos was subjected to a secret bombing campaign by the U.S., aka the Secret War, making it one of the most heavily bombed countries per capita in history. The U.S. was derermined to disrupt the North Vietnam supply route known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This intervention led to widespread devastation and loss of life in Laos.

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Stay on the Path

But did you know that after the war ended, the consequences of this bombing campaign lingers. There is a lot of unexploded ordnance scattered across the country. However, it continues to pose a significant threat to the lives and livelihoods of the Lao people. Efforts to clear these remnants and rebuild the country is ongoing. The United States has, in recent years, increased its contributions to aid in this clearance. The complex history between Laos and the United States during the Vietnam War era continues to shape relations and the country’s development.

Ok, I apologize for the history lesson, although I think its important to know.

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As a Tourist’s Destination

Our Hotel

I know I fall in love very easily. But when I say this city is amazing, I mean it. I am not gonna lie. It’s hit as Hades right now. But the hotel we are staying with is fabulous. We were upgraded to a large room with a view of the main street and the Mekong River. The hotel has a nightly sunset cruise, bicycles, which we are both using, a stocked minibar with beer, and no flat screen TV in our room (unless you ask for one). The owner, a Swiss expat naned Damian Killer, didn’t put TVs in any of the room. More on that later.

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How to Have Fun in Luang Prabang

There are tons of things to do on Luang Prabang. Last night we went on a 3 hour food tour that had us happy as fat cats.

I mentioned the temple, and I am in heaven because there are lot of them. I spent an hour chatting with a former monk about everything— nothing was off the table. Afterward, he instructed me in a guided meditation in one of the cutest temples.

After the monk chat, I rode my bicycle to a beautiful spa for mud treatment, body polish, and full body massage. Steven and I met up and took a tuk tuk to a vegan cafe for an avocado toast snack before the sunset cruise.

We ended the night at the night market with a lovely Spanish couple we met on the cruise. And that was my Saturday.

So tomorrow, we’ll see the waterfall in the morning, maybe take a dip because you can swim in it. Then, take a sunset cruise to the Pak Ou Caves, with a stop at a whiskey distillery for a night cap.

And there’s more to come including a cooking class, participating in the Alms Giving Ceremony, a hike to Pfousi Mountain, more pampering, more biking, and who knows what else.

Summing up Luang Prabang

I am happy about the change of plans. Stay tuned for detailed blog posts/ videos of all the above. Bali is still a wonderful destination if you’ve never been. And I hope to go back there again one day soon. But for now, sawaidee, let’s explore Laos.

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