Luang Prabang is a bit like a lullaby that plays softy in the background but somehow finds its way into your soul without you realizing.
It is an unassuming little town; lying on a peninsula in north central Laos where the Nam Khan river meets the mighty Mekong, the days are whiled away strolling temple lined streets, sipping local Lao Arabica coffee with sweet milk, and people watching on the riverside.
Though independent since 1945, Laos still retains the architecture, and flair, of its French annex in the 1700’s, and Luang Prabang, now a UNESCO world heritage site, is the perfect example of lazy riverside lounging fused with that old-fashioned French charm.
Colonial style houses blend seamlessly with gilded temples; classic Mercedes sedans and gaudy tuk tuks line the street. Children giggle on loud motorbikes, cats howl outside windows, roosters crow across the river and street vendors blast the latest tracks.
In the surrounding hills, caves, dreamlike waterfalls, and endless hikes offer opportunities for adventure. The bush-surrounded Mekong tempts with elephant-back treks like those of famous explorers from the 1800’s.As darkness falls, a sea of red and blue tents covers the main street; the night market spills out into alleyways with arts and crafts, bracelets, and BeerLao tees. At the ends, vendors with baguettes and fruit shakes, coconut milk balls and spring rolls hand out identical menus with big smiles. Hand-painted paper lanterns hang every few steps.
Because that is what Luang Prabang is: quiet, unassuming, with a heart for adventure, a chance to explore, and a charm that will make you want to stay forever.