Next stop was Laung Prabang only 140km north of Vang Vieng but could have been a million miles away. The only way up there was either by bus or by minibus. We decided on the cheaper alternative and took the VIP bus. Well we thought it was VIP until we got on it!!! 140km doesn`t sound that far but on a Laos road and on a Laos bus this was supposed to take around 6 hours so thats an average of 23km per hour! The first impression of the bus was whether it would actually make it out of the station and the first impression of the driver was whether he was old enough to hold a license!! We discovered during the trip that the driver was actually being trained by his friend and this was confirmed by the fact when he could never find the right gear, grind them to find them was the best policy on this bus. The other worrying fact was that the driver spent more time adjusting his amazing hair do than he spent looking at the road ahead. At first the seats looked comfortable enough but we were on the back row and were treated to no air con and also the fumes of the truck were coming through the floor boards. 5hrs into the bus ride, and with as many stops to pour water on the failing hot brakes my arse had heard to something close to the engine temperature and I was sure I would never have any sensation in it again. The other annoying thing was that they had decided to seat 4 6ft plus guys and one small Laos lady all not he back seat. The fact that the Laos lady decided that she was going to take up more room that any of us added to the almost unbearable journey. 8hrs later we finally arrived into Laung Prabang and were glad to have made it just!!! Next time I`ll opt for a minibus!!!
Laung Prabang is a world heritage city and as soon as you enter it you get a feeling of calm and history. it is a very sleepy capital of the northern Provence with many wats and monks and a great place to kick back for a few days and to recover from the mayhem of Vang Vieng. One of the main reasons for heading up to Laung Prabang was not only to discover the town itself but was also to go on a homestay / trek into the mountains. Many of our days in Laung Prabang were spent enjoying the French colonial architecture, enjoying delicious Laos coffee and chilling out during the evenings. Laung Prabang has a strict town curfew of 11pm at night where everything closes down (apart from the local bowling alley) so it is a great place to kick back and relax for a few days.
Laung Prabang is not your typical Laos, to start with many of the locals still speak french and the atmosphere you get round town is relaxed and chilled with many wine shops and cool bars like Laos Laos Gardens and Hive. This was also a great place to spend my birthday, and somewhere I never in a million years dreamed I would be celebrating it. The 3 main attractions are Phu Si, a temple on the slopes of the Phu Si hill, the waterfalls (45 min tuk tuk ride away) and the night market. The Phu Sui Temple is well worth a visit not only for the beautiful climb up, seeing more Buddhas but also for the view over Laung Prabang. The waterfalls are a set of many small and large waterfalls close to Laung Prabang. The watrefalls and the climb up to them are a great way to spend an afternoon… walking and taking dips into the various falls. The night market itself is a great way to browse the many different textiles and ornaments the locals sell. Typically Laos style not are not harassed into buying anything at all and browsing is taken at your leisure and in your own time!!We spent a few days in Laung Prabang and during our time there we booked ourselves on to a homestay where we would be trekking for a few days whilst staying in a remote village in the hills north of the town. A must when in Laos…