With a laid back, we-be-chillin’-monks style Luang Prabang, Laos is my favorite place we’ve visited so far. The locals greet you with a playful smiles and a simple welcome song of “Sabaidee!”
The first thing you notice are the monks. Just a glimpse of their regal orange robes makes me giggle with joy. It’s akin to seeing a rock star teddy bear that does yoga. Every time I see one I clap my hands together like Oprah on her birthday and whisper to anyone that will listen,
“The monks are coming!”
(Play it cool Meg, play it cool.)
They are everywhere. Piling into tuk-tuks, lounging in wats or just calmly walking down the street with shaved heads and eyebrows.
The main attraction in Luang Prabang is watching the morning alms at an eye opening hour of 5:30am. Rain or shine, the locals prepare sticky rice and bananas as an offering to the monks. Orange centipedes of monks quietly walk through the streets barefoot to accept their daily meals.
Other great things to do in Luang Prabang:
1. Koung Si Waterfall: Ice cream blue pools and grottoes that spill down from the main waterfall, creating perfect swimming holes and rocks to perch on while singing themes from the Little Mermaid. (See reliving childhood.)
2. Visit Wats (aka Temples): Walking barefoot into a golden, red and emerald green temple fills you with inner peace. The silent gold Buddha with a right hand facing upwards asks you for a simple smile.
3. Ride and Wash Elephants: Luang Prabang is one of the best places to visit elephants in Southeast Asia, right after Thailand. We did our research and paid a little more for the sustainable tour – Elephant Village.
It was amazing.
Elephants are hairy and huge. It’s mixture of joy, fear and deep respect (especially when they start running – apparently they do not like cars). All the elephants were being rented from logging camps as a way to spare them from hard labor and raise awareness about the fact that these pachyderms are going extinct. The elephants were all 30 – 40 years old and are extremely food oriented.
4. Night Market: Best place to buy hippie shorts/pants, cool jewelry as well as fresh fruit shakes and $1.50 dinner buffets.
5. Utopia Bar and Bowling: You will do this, I promise. Grab a drink at the somewhat hard to find Utopia bar. Sit on Thai triangle pillows, play volleyball and then grab a tuk-tuk to late night bowling at around midnight. It’s the only thing open and you get to bowl in bare feet.