Part One : 24-Hour Guide To Luang Prabang
Updated: Jun 2, 2019
If you've never been to Luang Prabang before, check out this itinerary on where to go, what to do, and what to eat in 24 hours. There will be three chapters aka blog posts to this itinerary cause I'm extra like that 😝 I spill more details and a lot more photos to whet your appetite in visiting this ancient UNESCO World Heritage Site called Luang Prabang.
So hold on till the end and check out some of the must-do's and must-see's in this "Golden Triangle" city where Nam Khan and Mekong rivers converge.
🛩 1200 hours : It was a 15-minute drive from Luang Prabang International Airport to The Luang Say Residence, the one and only Small Luxury Hotels of the World hotel in Laos. I booked the Pioneer suite on Agoda.com where there are rebates, promotional discounts and use of Agoda dollars. Sometimes, upgrades are given for free. Not this time though. I couldn't use any of the discounts but the suite was perfect at SG$230 nett per night (or approximately US$167 nett) inclusive of breakfast, wi-fi, regular shuttle rides to town and back, and turn down service. It was a little splurge but we saved so much on our return flight on Scoot at less than SG$300 nett for two with FlyBagEat (20kg of baggage per passenger, and food!).
The Luang Say Residence
In a nutshell, the five-star residence has five pavilions on over 150,000 square feet of green land. The air-conditioning in the 460 square foot Pioneer suite worked really well, and there was an outdoor balcony attached to it, as well as lots of complimentary bottled water. The countless number of international channels especially English ones were unexpected and awesome, and the nightly turn-down service dropped us gifts.
What I would have preferred on top of all this was a bathtub which sadly there was none; mozzies - we definitely had to draw our mosquito nets over the bed every evening because those things will find us somehow; and lack of a coffee machine. An airpot (aka electrical thermal flask/pot) was available but had to be plugged in the bathroom as i couldn't find any available electrical outlets besides the ones that had all our mobile devices plugged in already.
A few big plus'es really made our stay here so worthwhile - the complimentary minivan hourly shuttles everyday to town and back, sometimes the driver would take us right to the doorstep of the restaurant; the friendly and hospitable staff who knows Luang Prabang well enough to give sound advice on the food, traveling time, etc...; and cash exchange from USD to Laos Kip since we couldn't convert our cash in Singapore to the Laotian currency. No money vendor outside of Laos (that we know of) has kip for exchange. Hence the hotel did it for us without charging transaction fees. When we asked for an advance in USD though as we were running out of cash, they immediately obliged at US$5 per transaction.
4-5 Ban Phonepheng, P.O. Box 507 Luang Prabang Tel: + 856 71 260 891 Email: email@example.com
☕️ 0800 hours : We awoke the next day to the distinct aroma of coffee. When in Laos, have Laotian coffee we say! Drinking Asian-grown coffee is so different from Western-style ones. Firstly, preparing a cuppa of the former is less fussy than in Europe cause drinking tap water is perfectly fine as opposed to filtered water. Secondly, as long as it's boiling water, that's good enough. There is no set temperature to achieve for the kopitiam-style kopi. Thirdly, sticky, creamy, sweet CONDENSED MILK from the can, not warm cream or frothed milk, in my cafe (pronounced as kah-fei) which means coffee in Laotian. This makes absolute sense since coffee was first grown by the French who brought with them arabica and robusta beans in the early 1900's.
Dao Coffee currently owns 250 hectares of coffee plantation at Savang Village, Pakxong District, Champasak Province. It is reported on their website that the local company annually harvests 500 tons valued at more than 9,000,000,000 kip or approximately US$1.04M.
I bought a bag of instant 3-in-1 coffee (arabica beans' grounds) which was not easy to choose since the range is a wide one at a few dollars for 30 sticks.
No 56, Ban Viengxay, Luang Prabang Open Monday - Saturday Time : 7.30am - 6pm Tel : +856 71 214 444
Le Banneton Cafe
🥐 0830 hours : Lonely Planet described French cafe Le Banneton as having "melt-in-your-mouth pastry". Well. I am still in two minds as to whether enough French butter is added to the recipe or if it has even been added at all.
There are French colonial feels in this place, books and magazines waiting to be picked up, and a well-stocked wine cellar. Of course we had to have the butter croissants that were part of an all-day Continental breakfast set (including black coffee, orange or lemon juice, and crumb bread or tartine baguette with butter and jam) at 40,000 kip (approx SG$6.31/US$4.60), and croque monsieur. A cup of of steaming hot coffee starts from 10,000 kip (approx SG$1.58/US$1.15), which one can get a full-length baguette at this price too. The thick book of eats and drinks is a big one made up of baguette sandwiches, salads, galettes, crepes and loads more.
Time stood still for awhile here while staring out into Nam Khan river across the street. If I knew then, I would have also walked over to the chi-chi ebony wood craft house on the same street called Caruso Lao and bagged a few rare handmade pieces.
03/46 Sakhalin (Sakkaline) Road, Ban Killy
Time : 6.30am - 8.30pm
Tel : +856 30 578 834
There are three parts to this 24-hour itinerary so look out for the next one. We visited the local morning market that sold lanes of locally caught seafood, butchered meats, live frogs and dissected snakes! Check out the picturesque Kuang Si Falls, scrub clean a real life buffalo 😆, pet baby bunnies and a whole lot more - all in one day.
🛑 FAIR WARNING : The pictures in the next post may be too graphic for some, and is not suitable for children under the age of 18, so please proceed with caution or avoid the post altogether.