Impression of Laos – Vientiane, Vang Vieng & Luang Prabang

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Zach L. Lv. 4 Feb 13, 2019 4784/0
Laos is a country of Buddhists.

The slow-paced urban life makes local people more willing to be at leisure, drink some coffee or beer while chitchatting. Most Lao people seem to prefer a casual lifestyle rather than bear the burden of being rich.

Local people have equal social status and little is there hatred and jealousy among them. Rich people believe that their fortunes, in addition to their own efforts, are more attributed to the good fate. I think religion plays the biggest role in shaping their honesty, kindness, politeness as well as building harmony and equality among people.


Day 1


Vientiane


Vientiane is the capital of Laos.

Vientiane might be a little bit dangerous now. Rumors said that there was a gunfight broke out among the Vietnamese a couple of days ago and some of them were robbing pedestrians on motorcycles at night. So I didn’t go out on the first night.

We stayed at Muong Thanh Luxury Vientiane.

Muong Thanh Vientiane hotel, Laos


Day 2


Pha That Luang



Enroute to the Pha That Luang temple in the morning, a landmark of Vientiane. “Pha That Luang” means “the valuable and sacred pagoda” in Lao language. The main pagoda has a gold-plated top that shines brilliantly under the sun.

 Pha That Luang, Vientiane, Laos


[King Setthathirath] Fa Ngum founded a unified kingdom named Lan Xang in Laos for the first time after all warlords were conquered, and the capital was built in Luang Prabang. Vientiane lowered its status in order to maintain the core status of Luang Prabang as the kingdom’s capital, and Pha That Luang lost its glory. Vientiane didn’t recover its status until it was appointed as the capital again during the rule of Setthathirath in the 16th century.

Pha That Luang, Vientiane, Laos

ceiling, Lao temple


Dok Champa is the national flower of Laos.

Dok Champa flower, Laos

Vat that Khao, reclining buddha, Vientiane, Laos


Putaxai


I went to the Patuxai, a war monument in the center of Vientiane dedicated to those who fought for independence from France. There are typical Lao style carvings and decorations on the arch, all well-crafted, demonstrating the remarkable traditional ethnic culture and arts of Laos.

Putaxai, Vientiane, Laos

Putaxai, Vientiane, Laos

Putaxai, Vientiane, Laos

Putaxai, Vientiane, Laos


Presidential Palace


I visited the Presidential Palace, which is a giant French style mansion. It was the residence of the governor during the French colony period and now the residence for the president of Laos. There are no guards at the gate and you can take a peek outside the fence, but you are not allowed to enter.

Presidential Palace, Vientiane, Laos


Xieng Khuan (Buddha Park)


Went to the Xieng Khuan in the afternoon. A park themed with Buddhist and Hinduist sculptures. The park is a big garden full of green.

Xieng Khuan (Buddha Park), Vientiane, Laos

Xieng Khuan (Buddha Park), Vientiane, Laos

Xieng Khuan (Buddha Park), Vientiane, Laos


Nam Ngum Lake


Enroute to Nam Ngum, the largest lake in the country. The water and mountains are so perfectly matched, offering a breathtaking scenery and fully reflecting the characteristics of the natural landscapes of Laos.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the sunset while boating because of the rain.

Nam Ngum lake, Laos

Nam Ngum lake, Laos

Nam Ngum lake, Laos


We stayed at Dansavanh Nam Ngum Resort.

Dansavanh Nam Ngum Resort, Laos


Day 3


Vang Vieng


Going to Vang Vieng in the morning, which was about a 2-hour drive.

Vang Vieng is a transit stop between Vientiane and Luang Prabang, the outdoor heaven for backpackers.


Cows were wandering around on the road.

Cows, near Vang Vieng, Laos


The weather was rainy and sunny every now and then due to the tropical climate. So half of the way was wet and the other half was dry, and half of it was raining and half of it was sunny.

sheep, en route to Vang Vieng, Laos


Sticky rice ice cream. We had the Lao-style ice cream made of sticky rice when we took a break on the way.

Lao style sticky rice ice cream


Biggest dried fish market in Vang Vieng.

dried fish market, Vang Vieng, Laos

dried fish market, Vang Vieng, Laos


Boating on a long-tail boat on Nam Song River in the afternoon.

boating on Nam Song river, Laos

boating on Nam Song river, Laos

boating on Nam Song river, Laos


Tham Chang Cave


Tham Chang Cave is a well known attraction in Vang Vieng. It was used as an air-raid shelter for Laotians before. Without any much man-made decorations, it largely remains what it looked like in its rawest form.

Tham Chang Cave, Laos


Elementary school in Vang Vieng.

Elementary school in Vang Vieng.

Elementary school in Vang Vieng.


Vang Vieng at dusk.

Vang Vieng, Laos

Vang Vieng, Laos

Vang Vieng, Laos


We had dinner in a French restaurant named Le café De Paris, and the owner was very welcoming.

Le cafe de Paris, Vang Vieng, Laos

Le cafe de Paris, Vang Vieng, Laos


We stayed at Vinutda Guesthouse.

Vinutda Guesthouse, Vang Vieng, Laos


Vang Vieng pubs


The pubs in Vang Vieng gather lots of western tourists. Sometimes people call them “pubs for the poor”. We went to Sakuna Bar, a very popular one, to break some moves!

Sakuna Bar, Vang Vieng, Laos


Day 4


Luang Prabang



En route to Luang Prabang in the morning, which took about 4 hours by car.

The city of Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has witnessed history over a thousand years.


The bumpy road offered low visibility. A few trucks turned on their side along the road. We took a break on a hill.

road from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang, Laos

en route from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang, Laos

convenience shop on the way from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang, Laos


We finally made it to Luang Prabang after almost 5 hours.

Luang Prabang, Laos


I had a bowl of Lao style pho after we arrived. Well… actually I had two bowls of pho. The shop was Pho Jan Tanom.

pho soup, Pho Jan Tanom, Luang Prabang, Laos

pho soup, Pho Jan Tanom, Luang Prabang, Laos

pho soup, Pho Jan Tanom, Luang Prabang, Laos


We visited the elephant sanctuary in the afternoon.

elephant sanctuary, Luang Prabang, Laos


Wat Xieng Thong


Wat Xieng Thong represents the temple style in Luang Prabang, and it conveys the long Buddhist history of the country. Monks were chanting and believers were praying in the temple.

Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos


The weaving village in Luang Prabang.

The weaving village in Luang Prabang, Laos


Mekong River


Mekong River. Having a good time on the boat.

Mekong river cruise, Luang Prabang, Laos

Mekong river cruise, Luang Prabang, Laos


Songs could be heard on the banks of Mekong River. Lao people are content about their life, hence their high happiness ranking in several reports.

Lao people having a good time with music and drinks


The junction of two rivers

rivers


Phousi Mountain


Phousi Mountain is the best place to overlook the ancient town of Luang Prabang. There is a gilded temple on top of it called Wat Chom Si, which is the landmark of the hilltop. All the scenery of the ancient town are in your sight when looking down from the temple. Especially the sunset, it was amazing.

Wat Chom Si, Phousi Mountain, Luang Prabang, Laos

view of Luang Prabang from Phousi Mountain

view of Luang Prabang from Phousi Mountain


The Lao style hotpot by Mekong River.

The Lao style hotpot by Mekong River

seafood BBQ, Mekong River, Laos

seafood BBQ, Mekong River, Laos


We stayed at Belmond La Residence Phou V for the last two nights.

Belmond La Residence Phou V, Luang Prabang, Laos


Day 5


Royal Palace Museum


We went to the Royal Palace Museum in the morning, which used to be the royal palace. There are many relics from the Lan Xang kingdom era. The gold Buddha statue of Luang Prabang, a national treasure of Laos, is in the museum too.

No photography allowed in the museum, and all backpacks, hats and sunglasses need to be stored away. No sleeveless shirt, shorts or skirt above the knees are allowed.

Royal Palace Museum, Luang Prabang, Laos

Royal Palace Museum, Luang Prabang, Laos


Kuang Si Waterfall


We went to Kuang Si Waterfalls in the afternoon, a famous attraction in Laos. The waterfall is roughly 100 meters high, layered ponds are formed at the bottom of the waterfall. Then creeks flow into the forests from the ponds.

Kuang Si waterfalls, Luang Prabang, Laos

Kuang Si waterfalls, Luang Prabang, Laos

Kuang Si waterfalls, Luang Prabang, Laos


Bears farm.

bears farm, Luang Prabang, Laos


A taste of Lao cuisine.

Lao food, Luang Prabang, Laos


Traditional Lao dance.

traditional Lao dance

traditional Lao dance, Luang Prabang


Checking out Joma Coffee, a popular cafe in Luang Prabang.

Joma Bakery Cafe, Luang Prabang, Laos

Joma Bakery Cafe, Luang Prabang, Laos


The night market in Luang Prabang. I bargained hard, the shop owner eventually dropped the price from 35000 kip to 8000 kip, and we made a deal. The backpacker girl next to me was shocked, and said “I want the same, the same price as him”

souvenir bought from night market in Luang Prabang, Laos


Day 6


Almsgiving


Woke up at 4:30 and packed my bag to get ready for almsgiving.

almsgiving, Luang Prabang, Laos


[Almsgiving] It was still dark in the early morning. Women put hot sticky rice in their bamboo baskets, got their hair done, put on some lipstick and formal clothes, sat at the door of their house. Monks were walking from afar to accept the alms before they return to the temple. Then, when everything was over, then sun was up.

almsgiving in the morning for the monks, Luang Prabang, Laos

almsgiving in the morning for the monks, Luang Prabang, Laos

almsgiving in the morning for the monks, Luang Prabang, Laos


Lao people usually eat sticky rice. They put cooked sticky rice in containers woven with willow twigs. They are used to cook in early morning every day. First, they put some of the food in the willow container for almsgiving and then give some to their kids, and then whatever is left is for themselves.

sticky rice in basket, Laos


The morning market in Luang Prabang. You even get to buy owls and all sorts of lizzards.

morning market, Luang Prabang, Laos

morning market, Luang Prabang, Laos

morning market, Luang Prabang, Laos

morning market, Luang Prabang, Laos

morning market, Luang Prabang, Laos


Street food in Laos


The most famous one is Beer Lao.

Beer Lao


Homemade ice pop, only in Vientiane.

Homemade ice pop in Vientiane


grilled bananas, Laos


Lao style bean jelly dessert


Steamed vermicelli roll in Laos, crazy delicious.

Steamed vermicelli roll in Laos


I’ve no idea what fruit it is, that’s why I bought it.

Lao fruit


Cantaloupes in Laos are often cut into this shape.

Lao cantaloupes


Delicious pho soup at my hotel


This type of glutinous corns taste especially sweet.

sweet glutinous corn, Laos

corns, Laos


Laos isn’t very industrialized, their vegetable produce is very organic. This is pork stir fried with green chili peppers. The pork was tender and a little bit sweet. The chili was crunchy and fresh.

stir fry pork and green peppers, Laos


The honeycomb from mountains…It looked super raw and I didn’t dare to try it.

raw honeycomb, Laos

street food, Laos


Lao beef, purely organic, it tasted so good.

Lao style grilled beef


Deep-fried dough sticks. There is no illegal cooking oil, which is also hard to find.

deep fried dough, Laos


Lao people prefer to put rice in this kind of containers.

steamed rice in silver pot, Laos


Grilled chicken, pork and fish on the street.

Grilled chicken, pork and fish on the street, Laos


Rice noodles

rice noodles with pork, Laos


Fried rice with Lao style sliced sausages.

Fried rice with Lao style sliced sausages


People of Laos


Lao waitress


The mother and daughter selling fruits on our way to Vang Vieng.

fruit vendor on way to Vang Vieng, Laos

fruit vendor on way to Vang Vieng, Laos


The chef preparing Lao steamed vermicelli rolls in the resort.

preparing steamed vermicelli rolls, Laos


The Lao girl selling local-made ice cream.

Duangvilay Ice Cream, Laos


The kid selling boiled corns on our way on the mountains.

kid selling boiled corns, Laos


Lao people respect their elders. They get their children to learn how to respect elders and Buddhist doctrines in temples before they even go to school.

elders in Laos


The girl working in the gift shop.

girl in the gift shop, Laos


Kids playing in their neighborhood.

Lao kids


A wedding we came across in Laos. They spent an entire day on the ceremony. They were having a meal when we left our hotel after our breakfast in the morning, and when we came back in the evening, they were still eating and chatting.

local wedding in Laos


Notebook of a high school kid.

notebook of a high school kid in Laos


Laos is perhaps the last piece of pure land in Southeast Asia.

cats in Laos



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