Luang Prabang, Laos: A Restful Vacation with Many Wonders

Proudly contributed by Paul Moore

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Nestled between the Mekong and Nam Kham rivers, Luang Prabang, once the ancient royal capitol of Laos now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, provides a restful getaway with activities sure to please everyone and accommodate any budget.

A tiny town which is easily walkable, it packs several gold gilded Wats (Buddhist temples), impressive river views, and a myriad of criss-crossing streets with varied foodie opportunities ranging from fine French dining to Fear Factor foods like jungle rat. Nearby activities include jungle treks, waterfalls, bear and elephant conservations, as well as boat journeys up the Mekong River to explore sacred caves and whisky villages.

A worry-free, pampering accommodation…

Normally we like to stay at mid-range hotels, or no frills guesthouses (so long as I’ve seen reviews that they are clean and have comfortable beds), but in this instance we decided to spoil ourselves with a more upscale accommodation at The Belle Rive Boutique Hotel. It is a French colonial style hotel, with large rooms with hardwood floors and Lao decor, giant walk-in showers, and soft beds with plush comforters. The staff was incredibly friendly and attentive, and there were many perks such as free bicycle rentals, and complimentary evening sunset cruises on the Mekong River. But one of the really enjoyable things about the hotel is that you can have your made to order breakfast on a large wooden deck overlooking the Mekong River!

River breezes cool down the town…

We were nervous about what the weather would be like because all of the reports predicted constant rain showers and oppressive heat and humidity. Basically the same weather we were seeking to escape from Bangkok. When we arrived it was hot and humid, but as soon as we got into the sleepy little town the river breezes immediately cooled us down. We found a little Mom and Pop riverside bar/diner (the Mekong River has plenty to choose from) and settled in for some cheap ice-cold large Beer Lao bottles and an incredible sunset over the opposing jungle riverbanks.

Feats of strength and determination!

The next day was a marathon for me. I’d broken my ankle in 3 places a few months prior (falling down the stairs in my house or a Muay Thai fight with a great white shark whilst saving a baby from a burning building (if I’ve had a few beers)). If you’ve ever broken anything major that really affects your life, then you know how that first month and a half of convalescing gives you plenty time for painful refection. You have time to think on how your life has been and what you want it to be.

I wanted to take more advantage of the traveling opportunities in my life. We had Luang Prabang already booked so I could only hope that I’d be well enough to enjoy it. As the days came closer to my travel, and with my doctor’s optimism with my healing progress, I began to fantasize about grandiose achievements such as climbing (conquering!) the top of Mount Phousi (okay….it’s actually better described as Phousi Hill but in my imagination and so as not to diminish the effort, I prefer the impressive Mount Phousi (which is recognized by Trip Advisor!).

We started our day with an exploration of Wat Xieng Thong, a Buddhist temple, located on the northern tip of the peninsula nearby our hotel. Afterwards we headed directly to Mount Phousi so I could conquer it’s 355 steps to reach its 150 meter summit!

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