I was illness for most of my time in Laos so I did not do a great deal. I started in Vientiane, travelled to Vang Vieng and ended in Luang Prabang. I can tell you how I got to each place and what I did, if I did anything.
In Vientiane I did nothing other than find a pharmacy, buy many cold remedies, do laundry and sleep. I basically sucked at being in Vientiane. I stayed one night before I headed on. I stayed at Siholme Backpackers which is actually a really decent hostel. Good air con dorms, best showers I’ve ever seen in a hostel, movie room, good communal bar area and friendly staff. Very comfortable and 40,000 kip (ish) a night.
I booked my minibus to Vang Vieng through the hostel and paid 50,000 kip. I sat in a minibus for about 5 hours and was safely deposited in Vang Vieng. I’d booked into a hostel there called Easy Go Hostel. It was 25,000 kip a night but it was horrid. I should have paid more and stayed somewhere nice. No air con. Dirty rooms. Foul showers and toilets. No WiFi. Crap communal areas which flood when it rains and leaky ceiling in my dorm. I spent slim to no time in the hostel. I sat in bars that had WiFi and air con instead.
There were some fairly impressive thunder storms whilst I was in Vang Vieng. It felt very ominous before the storms hit. You can see in the snap below that rain is cascading down onto the hills in the distance.
When there were no rain storms, I was in bars. The bars in Vang Vieng vary quite dramatically in their USPs. A couple of them play episodes of ‘Friends’ back to back, all day. There’s also a South Park/Family Guy bar. There’s bars with jazz, bars with rock, Irish bars and bars with no special talents at all. I preferred the ‘Friends, bars because the WiFi was good, the good was cheap and the seating was pillows that you can stretch out on. They also sat right on the river so you could have a really lovely view if you wanted one.
There are things you can do in Vang Vieng it’s just that I didn’t do any of them. There is a blue lagoon you can visit. You can still go tubing although I’m told it’s much more civilised/less fun now as there’s only 2 or 3 bars to stop at. There’s also temples you can go and see etc etc. I didn’t do anything other than medicate myself heavily and sit around.
I left Vang Vieng on a minibus bound for Luang Prabang. It cost me 90,000 kip and took about 7 hours. The drive winds through mountains so get ready for twisting and turning in the extreme. It wasn’t a comfortable ride as I had slim to no leg space and still did not feel well. We stopped a few times too which was, I assume, was to rest the drivers arms. It wasn’t all bad though, I got to play with the panorama mode on many camera phone for one and the view wasn’t bad.
I hadn’t prebooked accommodation in Luang Prabang as there wasn’t an inspiring range available on the internet. Instead, I walked around until I settled on Xayana Guesthouse for 40,000 kip a night. The dorm was clean and the separate toilet and showers made me feel happy. There was no WiFi in the dorms but it was accessible from the communal area out the front. Not ideal. The water went off one night during a rain storm and and the roof leaked in the dorm (but not on my bed) so, really, not all that great for 40,000 a night. You could probably find cheaper very nearby but I was not in the mood, I just wanted sleep.
I spent time in JoMa Bakery in Luang Prabang as they will sell you a mug of tea with fresh milk (not condensed) for 10,000 kip. They also have yummy salads to eat. I liked the cake from Ancient Bakery just down the road (they do special 50% off on cakes daily). The 10,000 kip per plate vegetarian buffet at the night market saw some action from me to. You pile your plate up with the cold food then a nice man stir fries it all back to hot. For 10,000 kip it’s a very good feed. There’s a lady on the corner across the road from the buffet who will sell you noodle soup for 10,000 kip too. Plenty of cheap eating opportunities. The cafés and eating places in town were pretty expensive so I ate mostly the night market food.
I ventured into the watering holes too. My favourite bar was Utopia. Set on the river, you can chill out and chat or be energetic with a game of volleyball if you fancy it. I went for chilling and chatting. I visited Lao Lao Garden which was fun. Not as atmospheric as Utopia but still a decent spot. Then there was Hive bar which was dull and forgettable. I also went bowling. Strange as it seems, everywhere in town closes at 11:30pm. The bowling alley stays open until 2am so you find the bar crowd migrating a few km out of town to the bowling alley come closing time. It’s legitimate 10 pin bowling costing 20,000 kip per person per game. My havianas got stolen. The flip flopper strikes again.
I was feeling better by the time my last day in Laos arrived so, I did my first and only touristy thing. I visited Kuang Si waterfall. It’s about 30 km away from Luang Prabang but you should be able to get a round trip spot in a tuk tuk for 30,000-40,000 kip. Entrance to the waterfall is 20,000 kip and included in this is seeing some bears. Real ones.
They are cute and you can watch them being fed (at the regular feeding time) if you want to.
The main attraction is the waterfall. There’s two routes you can take to get to the waterfall, the trekking way or the regular way. We got confused and accidentally took the trekking way in flip flops and skirts. It wasn’t ideal but we didn’t get injured so it’s all good. Some of the pools you pass on the way up to the main falls are just stunning.
The main waterfall is gorgeous.
One of the best bits is that you are allowed to swim in a few of the pools. There’s even a rope swing at the biggest one.
We had great fun at the main pool. Do take your swimming stuff if you go. There’s changing cubicles and everything. The fish in the water will try to nibble your dead skin though. I didn’t like that at all and shrieked like a massive girl whenever I felt one.
The waterfall is well worth the investment of time and kip. I had a lovely time.
All in all, Laos is a relaxing place to visit. No one is in a hurry. No one hassles you and, if you just want to sit around and maybe see some temples or nature if you feel so inclined, Laos is a good pick. I enjoyed myself and almost got rid of my cold.