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 DAY SEVENTEEN - Luang Prabang, Laos

Previous Blogs: Day 1 Tokyo | Day 2 Tokyo | Day 3 & 4 Singapore | Day 5 Singapore | Day 6 Ho Chi Minh City | Day 7 Ho Chi Minh City & Tunnels

Day 8 Can Tho | Day 9 Floating Market | Day 10 Flower Market | Day 11 Hoi An | Day 12 My Son Temple | Day 13 Hanoi | Day 14-16 Halong Bay

Day 17 Luang Prabang | Day 18 Temples-Waterfalls | Day 19 Mekong River | Day 20-21 Bagan | Day 22 Bagan | Day 23 Inle | Day24-25 Inle

Day 26-27 Finale

Click photos for a larger image...

We spent our last night in Vietnam in the same hotel we had before in Hanoi and our driver picked us up for the airport at 9.30am. YAY! NO on knocking on our door at 6 freakin' am!

We flew to Laos in an ATR 72 Turboprop.

It was immediately evident that we are no longer in Vietnam. While just a borderline away, the country is completely different from the moment we landed. Approximately the same size as Vietnam, the population differs vastly. 7 million people vs. 91 million in Vietnam.

Laos is a Communist country meaning that we have now visited all but 2 of all the Communist countries in the world (Cuba and North Korea remain).

But like all Communist countries with a free market economy, you wouldn't know other than the odd hammer and sickle flag. There are no army or police walking around with sub machine guns (like you see in South America), you barely see a cop at all and people are super friendly and helpful. Even immigration coming in was welcoming.

Our private guide and driver picked us up at the airport and took us straight to our hotel where we had the afternoon off to walk the town and explore.


Our hotel room - cute and a little more basic than Vietnam, but comfortable. Free WiFi again.

Unlike Vietnam you have to remove your shoes before entering the hotel - note the shoe rack. 95% of all Laotians are Buddhist.

The view from our hotel - it is on the Mekong River

Front of our hotel - most hotels here are Boutique hotels or guesthouses.

Next it was time for lunch, the river front is lined with many different restaurants. Prices are about the same as Vietnam, our snack lunch with 2 beers came to $6. Beer's are $1.20 each. Funnily enough the price of beers in the local store was exactly the same as the restaurant price making buying them for the room kinda stupid. Not saving anything.

Luang Prabang is the 4th largest city in Laos with a population of only 47,000 people.

Our hotel is centrally located so walking the town is very easy. The entire city is a World Heritage site and easy to see why, on every corner there is an ancient temple, and as you can see these temples are a lot more beautiful than those we saw in Vietnam.

Traffic is not crazy, you could safely rent a scooter here and not worry about dying - scooter rentals run about $15/day.


Mekong river, note the rainbow!

Crops on the river banks

River cruises are a big thing here on these boats.

Architecture of the homes is very European style - influence from the original French Colonials I would assume

After a short rest it was time to go for a walk into town...

<<<<<  Note the moon!!!




And time for a crepe snack...

Then hit the night market, which is huge.

Then it was time for dinner at a decent street side cafe.

Sweet and sour beef - $3.60

Grilled vegetables - $2.20

Steamed Rice - $0.60

2 beers - $2.40


The currency here is called a KIP.

There are 8000 kip to 1 US Dollar, ARGH!!!

It is also a coin free society, so the KIP1000 you see pictured here is their smallest bank note and it is worth a whopping 12 cents.

The reason these countries have so many zeros is because of the runaway inflation that occurred when they left the pure Marxism Communism and moved to a free market economy. Playing catch up always causes hyper inflation as Russia discovered shortly after the wall came down in 1989.

Changing the currency is just too expensive. Easier to print bigger denomination bills.


And finally....

We just can't get away from this damn dead snake whisky!


And I don't even want to know what those other critters are in the bottle!


Tomorrow a horrible cold front moves in.  We go from a balmy 85F to a frigid 49F.  Thanks China for sending down that cold mass!  We are neither packed nor prepared for such cold weather.   Oh, did I mention the 80% chance of rain?!  Yeah, this year's weather has definitely been not the norm based on past trips to this area. Oh well.... c'est la vie!


Wendy's Note - I wish we had spent less times in Vietnam and more time in Laos.  This is EXACTLY the laid back, relaxing vibe I wanted.  I do believe my ears are still ringing from all the honking and insanity from the loudness of Hanoi and Saigon.