They say that Luang Prabang is a city of temples, the most beautiful place in Laos, and a backpacker’s mecca. And it’s all true, but I would also add two things: the city of delicious sandwiches and the night market.
I will start from the end. The first afternoon, when we went for a walk and dinner, we were surprised to see the main street of the “old town” full of stands with souvenirs. In the beginning we thought that it’s some kind of a holiday, soon though we realized that this market is organized every day. The people of Luang Prabang know very well how to attract tourists. Apart from typical souvenirs probably imported from China, you can find some wonderful handmade textiles, very similar to those you can see in the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC).
The stands with sandwiches by the same road are also an example of how touristy Luang Prabang is. Seems like normal sandwiches, but they can lure tourists traveling through southeast Asia for a long time. For three or four days we ate there at breakfast and dinner time, so much we missed the European bread. It is also a meeting point for all backpackers, so if you travel alone and you want to meet somebody or find someone to share the taxi to the waterfalls, head to the most crowded tables.
While there met a couple of backpackers and spend an evening in the famous Utopia bar. That’s where you can spot more tourists than in all temples and museums in town. The bar is located around 15 minutes from the sandwich shops, right by a river. They have great places to lay down and really cool atmosphere. After midnight the party moves to a local bowling alley, as it’s the only place open until late. I gave up, but Renato went there, but doesn’t remember much, his party mode was on a too advanced level.
Luang Prabang is truly beautiful. And I’m not talking only about the golden temples, but in general about the “old town”. The narrow streets are practically free of traffic and there are lots of trees and wonderful colonial architecture with small galleries, shops, restaurants and travel agencies. There are lots of things to see as well. A couple of golden temples, a hill with a view over the town, waterfalls and museums. The one that tickled my fancy the most was Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC). It’s a small and not tiring museum that describes the ethnic minorities, their clothes and customs in an interesting and concise way.
Luang Prabang is a great place to meet new people, party, visit interesting places and buy some nice souvenirs on the night market.
More photos from Laos here.