Feb 16, 2011


 A former royal capital of Laos which recently has been declared as an Unesco Heiritage Site.

Location: Luang Prabang, northern city of Laos.
Getting there: Lonely Planet Guide

Lodging:  $-Economical to $$-Affordable price rages:
1. Halolao Back Packers: Starts at $12
2. Wat That Guest House: Starts at $10
3. Nam Sok Guest House: Starts at $20. Request for a bigger room in the back
4. Ammata Guest House
5. Souk Lan Xang Guest House: Starts at $30
6. Mano Luck Hotel: Just outskirt of the central district. Starts at $35
7. Villa Merry Lao-Swiss: Starts at $35
8. Lotus Vila Laos: Starts at $50. Supporter of Deak Kum Pa Orphanage.
9. The Apsara: Starts at $55. Great reviews by former guests!!
10. Chanthavinh Resort&Spa: Starts at $55. A few kilometers away from the central district.
11. The Villa Pavilion: Starts at $60. 10min walking to the central district
12. Le Bel Air Boutique Resort & Vila: Starts at $63
13. Baan Lak Kham: Starts at $75
14. Zen Namkhan Boutique Resort: Starts at $86. 30 mins outside of the central district.
15. Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel: Starts at $125
16. Mekong Estate: Pending on the season, Low season starts at $100 & High at $130.
17. Belle River Boutique Hotel: Starts at $120
18. Les 3 Nagas By Alila: Starts at $130
19. Villa Santi Hotel&Resort: A former royal residence.
20. ** Grand Luang Prabang: 4km outside of the town. Shuttle provided into the town. A former residence of the royal family.
21. To immerse yourself into the local culture and stay on a tight budget, inquire about home-stays!
More hotel options

Restaurants that promote eco-sustainable organic practices:
1. Tamarind Cafe and cooking classes: www.tamarindlaos.com
2. L'elelphant: French restaurant. www.elephant-restau.com
3. Le Cafe Ban Vat Sene: L'elephant's sister restaurant, but more casual.
4. Joma Bakery Cafe: www.joma.biz/Joma/Welcome.html

Hong night market

Giving of the Alms proceeding at 6am

A view of the sunset from Mount Phousi

Mekong River

 Tours outside of the city:
* There are many offered. Shop around for reliable tour guides with competitive rates.
***** Jewel Travel Laos and Green Discovery tour guides appear to be reliable.
* Stop by at Tamarind Restaurant and ask to prepare a picnic lunch for your day excursion

Kuang Si Waterfalls
* Getting there:
1. Rent a bike in town: 1 1/2 hours of cycling for 30kms. Bring a plenty of water.
* A great opportunity to pass through farm towns and interact with the locals.
2. Rent a moped: $15 per day.
3. Tuk Tuk canoe: Book with a tour guide. Approx 1 hour each way. 30,000-40,000 Kip per person.
4. Boat: Book with Green Discovery Tour
* Stops at some of the villages along the way on Mekong River
5. By car with Treasure Travel Laos or another guide

All Lao Elephant Camp (1-2 days):
* Please read this following article before deciding to experience an elephant trekking tour.  As an animal lover, you should be more aware of the gruesome torment the elephants face in ordered to be trained to be ridden by humans.

* A rare opportunity to see some of the most remote areas in the region and how the people live in tough conditions there.
* Tips:
- Although attempting, please do not give money to the children. This only reinforces the habit of begging as an acceptable behavior. There are better ways to help those who desperately need it. See the very bottom of this page for further info.
- Do not take photos of them without their permissions.
- Do not pity them. They are proud people with proud history.
- Do purchase local goods/food if available. This directly helps their local economy.

Pak Ou Caves: limestone facade caves filled with preserved Buddha sculptures inside.
* Option of boating or kayaking to the caves.

Personal Note:
Undoubtedly, there is no denying the presence of poverty in Laos. When the communist party came to power in the mid 1970's, the people and their economy were completely blocked off from the outside world and became stagnate. This resulted in further decline in poverty and other social related problems. As their land, water, and people became isolated and unimpacted by the globalism and commercialism, an unique culture and a way of life were preserved in the process. Their rich cultural identity, practices and beliefs are uncommonly found elsewhere today. These unique mystical qualities have captivated the world's imagination, and today, millions of international tourists visit in pursuit of capturing and experiencing the essence and beauty of Laos.

As today's vulnerable economy opens up to the possibilities of capitalism and entrepreneurship, I often wonder about how the social impacts of new found wealth and its consumerism, inevitable greed, division of social economic classes, and rising environmental problems will play a role in redefining the society's morals and values and reshaping their culture, politics, and environment. Will the embrace of modernization and prosperity come at a price of destroying the tranquil spirit and beauty which ubiquitously defines Laos? Although there are no easy answers, there must be a solution that balances the juxtaposing views of capitalism and preservation.

By supporting locally owned businesses and social and eco-conscientious tourism practices, we the tourists can make an impact on Laos' fight against poverty and help preserve their natural habitats and a way of life in the process.

To further help, inquire about donations to the local schools, medical clinics, orphanages, and others. Speak with the Aussie expat owners of Lotus Vila Laos Hotel #8 and/or Tamarind Restaurant about how you can contribute. *During your hill-tribe tour excursion, speak to your tour guide about how you can make a donation to the schools, clinics, etc. or directly contact the NGO's (Non-Government Organizations) that are currently working in Luang Prabang or the surrounding areas. Please read the following on how to help promote responsible tourism in SE Asia: www.mekongtourism.org/guide

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