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Rating 1.3 (170 votes)

Luang Prabang

Listed under Villages in Laos.

  • Photo of Luang Prabang
  • Photo of Luang Prabang
  • Photo of Luang Prabang
  • Photo of Luang Prabang
  • Photo of Luang Prabang
  • Photo of Luang Prabang
  • Photo of Luang Prabang
  • Photo of Luang Prabang
Photo of Luang Prabang
Photo by Kathy Dragon
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I arrived back last night from a month in Bali, Singapore, Laos and Vietnam. I spent a full week-a lifetime-in Luang Prabang, Laos and loved every minute of it.

Each morning I woke at 6 am and went to my guest house porch to watch the monks passing with the alms baskets. Daily morning fair-trade coffee at a cafe along the muddy waters of the Mekong river. Days were spent biking to local villages or nearby waterfalls and Wats (temples). Afternoon massages and evening conversations with monks and listening to 5:30 pm chants before enjoying tasting local Lao dishes wrapped in banana leaves, accompanied by sticky rice and a big beerlao.

While in Luang Prabang, I stayed at AMMATA GUESTHOUSE 37 KHUNSUA Rd Phonheung village tel (856-71) 212175 or 020-7607304 phetmanyp@yahoo.com (tell them Kathy Dragon says hello!) which I LOVED for $15/night..room 4 on the 2nd floor is a corner room with a nice view of the monks each morning from the lovely porch. Simple rooms have AC. No fridge or tv (or safe...see below!). Great little staff...wonderful pots, flowers, plantings everywhere and outdoor tables to relax at. No breakfast (really, what do you want for $15??. Make sure to go to Saffron Cafe along the Mekong for the best fair trade coffee in town. In the evening try the Big Tree Cafe (smile@bigtreecafe.com) for lunch or dinner. Mi Ja just opened the restaurant and it is very good. Her husband is a photographer so check out the gallery.

My first two nights I had booked Ancient Luang Prabang Hotel across from the night market on the main st. Beautiful rooms and great staff as well as wonderful bakery/mac cafe attached..downside was the rooms on the front are VERY noisy though they offer a private balcony. All rooms have AC, fridge, tv. No safe (why would you need it in LP??). Rooms online are approximately $40 plus booking fee.

Other great places for dinner include Tum Tum Cheng (or Tum Tum Banboo-they have two restaurants now) and Tamarind, both which offer great Lao food as well as cooking classes.The Three Elefphant restaurant and Blue Lagoo Cafe (best service in town) are both good. I loved the Sala Cafe...I was the only customer and enjoyed a Lao BBQ (you must experience this...you cook the food on your table with sort of a BBQ/WOK contraption that allows you to steam the veggies and cook the meat/fish.

Other places to stay: For a lower budget, I looked at the Lao Wooden House (brand new and very nice) at $30+/night and the Senesouk House (opposite Vatsene temple) at $25-35. The Sayo Guest House has large rooms with very high ceilings (one of the old french houses) and now has two properties, one on the water and one across from one of the Wats (temples). Rooms are from $30.

A must is the SPA GARDEN (they also own the Aroma Spa on main street) which offers more upscale massages than us generally found in LP (fyi: $3/hr Lao massages are not for me...I tried one!). For $15 the aromatherapy massage was excellent and I added another hour of back and shoulder for $5 more.

Peripheral Information:

This is the beginning of the dry season as well as the middle of the rice harvest (which last approximately 2 weeks depending on how many family members help with the harvest).

It can still be hot and humid with occasional rains.

The Full Moon festival at the end of Oct. offers candle lit bamboo boats built by the monks which are floated down the Mekong!

Laos has two seasons; the wet season runs from around May to October, and as with many Southeast Asian countries, the wet season is characterized by a downpour for a few hours a day rather than all day torrential rain.

The cool dry season runs from November to February and the hot dry season from March to April.

Mid-October through December may be the best time for active travel as the rivers are still higher and good for river travel and the air is cool and days are relatively clear.

Written by  Kathy Dragon.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

I went to Spa garden and it was NOT a good experience. The girl doing the massage didnt seem to have a clue what to do - kept pressing but not doing anything else, did one leg not the other, didnt do my back or arms properly, seemed bored and tired and as if she couldnt be bothered. To make it worse there was a mosquito in t he room which bit me 5 times (2 days later there are swollen, painful. im glad im taking malaria tablets). the final straw was when the girl burped in my ear. so i got up said i needed to go (gently as Lao people are pretty shy and very polite and sweet) and left (I did pay though of course!). I went to a great massage place in Vientiene which was half the price and twice as good. Spa Garden has all the tourists going to it because its a bit smarter and I dont think its worth it. i feel bad for complaining as no Lao person ever offends anyone, but in my opinion its better to give a nice lao lady the money and have a more basic but probably nicer experience.

Ammata Guest House

Nice Guest house but over priced. January 2008

It would appear that since appearing in the Lonely Planet they have put their prices up from $15 to $35.

Our experience.

They offered to pick us up from the Airport(at an additional price - we had no problem with that) but they did not arrive. No big deal.

On the second night, we stayed seven, the room above ran the Air Con until 3am which made quite a lot of noise. The nights are cool but we thought it appropriate to have a word with the management and the owner to see if they could ask the guests to maybe switch it off before midnight as it kept us awake. Two nights later the same thing. We understand that you can't control what other guests do but we are sure the owner/manager were just not interested.

Two days before we left we asked them to arrange bus tickets for Vientiane (They have all these notes around the building saying they arrange bus tickets for an additional price). I gave them more money than was required and a little while later they told me because I was paying in $US it would be a couple of dollars more. I had no problem with this as I was looking for the convenience of their purchasing the tickets for us. The next morning the manager came to me and gave me my money back and said he couldn't help us. I thought this was a bit slack, 24 hours before we are due to get on the bus, and no excuse. I walked up to the main street and on my return my wife couldn't believe I was back in 15 minutes with reserved bus tickets.

Then later on that day I asked them to make the account up and I would pay it early as we were to leave the next morning. I was told by the manager the room price is $35. I said that this can't be correct as I booked from Australia by e-mail and the owner said it was $35 upstairs and $30 down stairs. I think he went and checked with the owner and came back later and told me I was right.

One good point is they offered to cook sticky rice for us (small charge)so we could give alms to the monks.

Beds were also a bit hard but this is common is Asia.

Overall a disappointing experience.

Would we stay there again? No there is better value elsewhere.

I'll just add that I think for those prices you would have to also expect a fridge, TV and security box.

Ahfoo Melbourne Australia

PS The baguettes in Luang Prabang are to die for, but not in Vientiane

Town of Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is an outstanding example of the fusion of traditional architecture and Lao urban structures with those built by the European colonial authorities in the 19th and 20th centuries. Its unique, remarkably well-preserved townscape illustrates a key stage in the blending of these two distinct cultural traditions.

Copyright © UNESCO/World Heritage Centre. All rights reserved.

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