I arrived in Luang Prabang, Laos from Chiang Mai yesterday. I was originally excited to see this lovely city in the mountains with the French influenced architecture and food. Then, after reading a few blog posts about Luang Prabang being like Disney World, and beautiful but a bit fake, I became discouraged and wondered if I should change my itinerary. In short, I wasn't sure what to expect.
I've only been here 24 hours, but my first impression is good. I feel very peaceful and at home here. It is touristy, but all of the places I've visited have had more than their fair share of backpackers and tourists.
Here in Luang Prabang, there are monks strolling the streets, little children playing, and locals sitting down for noodle soup. I can see that with its relatively expensive prices it is probably a world away from the rest of Laos, but I'm just happy to be here, stroll around by the river, and eat some nice French pastries.
Here are some photos from my first evening and day walking around.
The night market is huge and while you do see the same crafts repeated after visiting a few stalls, they seem to be good quality. I'm so tempted to buy some lovely wooden bowls or a silk scarf or paper lantern... if only my bags weren't completely stuffed!
The architecture is quite different from what I saw in Thailand. I don't think this building is original, but it is a charming example of the French influence here.
It's hazy here like it was in Thailand; I'm guessing they also follow the same practice of burning off the fields in March, which makes my timing a bit unfortunate. Walking along the river is still beautiful, though.
There are temples everywhere; I chose to stop at Wat Xieng Thong first. It is gorgeous, and was not very crowded.
I am trying to take photos of the monks from a respectful distance; it's important to me to have pictures with them because they are so prevalent here, but I don't want to be one of the really annoying tourists (apparently there is a lot of bad tourist behavior that happens during the morning alms ceremony).
I'm sure I'll post a full write up of Luang Prabang later. Maybe I'll do some trekking or visit some waterfalls, possibly a cooking class, who knows? For today, I'm just happy to be here and soak up the city.