Getting to Luang Prabang from Yangon required a 05:30am wake up call followed by a 06:00am departure to the airport. Luckily, we were staying at a hostel located right next to the airport.
While at the airport we met a lovely couple who, unbeknownst to us, would become our travel buddies for our time in Luang Prabang.
💱 Money Exchange Tip: Make sure to change all your Myanmar Kyat at the airport before you leave. Once out of the country it will be near impossible to exchange this currency as it is not really allowed to be brought in / leave this country.
Our first flight was to Bangkok. It was short, bumpy and nauseating. As soon as we landed in Bangkok, I had to rush to the restroom to deal with my extreme nausea if you get what I mean.
Now, during the few days prior to our departure from Myanmar, I had been battling viral tonsillitis. For some strange reason, Pete didn’t catch it all. So during our stopover I made sure to buy some antibiotics from the pharmacy. The wonderful thing about Thailand is they sell all types of antibiotics over the counter. Which, all travelers should have on hand, just in case. I’ll tell you a bit later why this was the best move I could have made.
We took our next flight to Luang Prabang, which was just as rocky as the first. We did our visa on arrival at the airport. We needed one passport photo, a fee (35USD for Americans, 30USD for South Africans), and a filled out application which you get there. The whole process was pretty fast and painless.
📱Buying a Simcard Tip: You will see loads of sim card sellers at the airport. Just hold off and buy one in town. We got ours for 70,000Kip which included 5gb. Enough to last us 2 weeks.
Also, there are several ATMs outside the airport to withdraw cash. Some have large fees or charge a percentage of your withdrawal. The best one, with the lowest fee (20,000Kip) was BCEL.
We shared a taxi with our new travel companions into town. We stayed at Villa Ban Phanluang. It had a nice French charm to it. Cute wooden rooms, comfortable bed, bathtub and nice breakfast. We paid 21USD per night. The only downside was that it is located on the other side of the river. Which requires you to cross the bamboo bridge. The bamboo bridge has a fee of 5,000Kip per round trip. Which got a bit annoying.
As for Luang Prabang, it’s so charming! The French Colonial buildings, cute coffee shops and restaurants will make you fall in love. You could see how people plan on staying in Luang Prabang a couple of days and stay for years. We loved this small city and honestly wished we had more time to spend.
Our first night there was spent eating loads of Laotian barbecue and Laab with our new friends.
The next day, we had big plans! But, they were all foiled when I woke up with a raging case of Strep throat. Grrrr! After a bit of self diagnosis we both knew I needed Amoxicillin and Ibuprofen. Oh snap! Luckily, I had bought Amoxicillin the day before in Thailand.
Despite our self diagnosis and treatment plan we decided it would behoove us to get a second opinion. So we asked our guesthouse manager where we could find a doctor. He then took us to the main hospital. Now, this hospital is exactly how you would picture a 3rd world country hospital to look. Open air, dusty, no sanitation methods in sight. Anyways, we go to the doctor station. Our guesthouse manager tells the doctors that I am having an issue with my throat. One doctor took my blood pressure, weight and jots numbers down on book. At this point he gives up and tells our guesthouse manager that he cannot help me due to his inability to communicate. So we were shunned away. Our guesthouse manager had to get back to the guesthouse because guests were arriving. So, he called his friend to pick us up at the guesthouse and take us to a different clinic. Well, that message was not received well because his friend took us right back to the same damn hospital. We tried to explain to the new taxi driver that the doctors didn’t want to help us, but to no avail. So we just told him to take us back. It was now time to go on a self diagnosed regime. Amoxicillin and Ibuprofen, as planned.
We spent the rest of the day resting. When evening approached, we met our new friends for drinks over the Mekong and dinner at the vibey restaurant Utopia.
The next day, which was also our last full day in Luang Prabang, was spent trekking out to Kuang Si Waterfalls. We rented a scooter for the high price of 100,000Kip and caravanned out with our new friends. We made a pit stop for lunch and coffee and carried on to the falls.
The falls were gorgeous! Teal eye-candy. But, they were extremely busy! Loads of tourists. By the time we made it to the top fall, the afternoon rain came. We tucked into a little restaurant for some snacks while we waited for it to pass.
Afterwards, a couple of us went for a swim in the beautiful waters.
The sunset ride back down the mountain to Luang Prabang was stunning! When we arrived back, we bought tickets for our next destination, Vang Vieng. We paid 115,000 Kip per person for the supposedly 5 hour journey.
We showered off and went to a nearby pizza place, Pizza Phan Luang, which did not disappoint. It is actually run by a foreigner, behind his English school. A really cute setup with chairs and candles. Worth a visit for sure!
The next day we were up bright and early, ready for a 09:00am departure from outside a coffee shop. The tuk tuk, which was supposed to usher us to the bus station, only arrived at 09:45. He was right on time as well, clearly.
This was our introduction into public transportation in Laos. Never on time and always a bit of a s#!t show.
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