Laos is one of those places I never thought I’d end up going. It’s a small, landlocked country in Southeast Asia that’s almost completely jungle. When I got the opportunity to go to Luang Prabang and shoot at an ethical elephant sanctuary, I jumped at the chance, even though I hardly knew where I was going. Truth is, I love traveling - I’ll go anywhere. I want to see things and eat new food and experience different cultures. I was so pleasantly surprised by my experience in Luang Prabang. Not only was the nature completely stunning and the people are so wonderful, but Lao food is now some of my favorite cuisine! So glad I took this opportunity.
Where To Stay:
Luang Prabang is not the capital of Laos (that would be Vientiane) so it’s definitely a smaller city vibe. That being said, there are still great accommodation options for tourists and visitors. The hotel we stayed at was called Sada Hotel, and I really loved it for several reasons: 1. most of the staff spoke some english which was helpful when asking for directions 2. it’s on a main road so you can walk to markets and restaurants and easily grab tuk-tuks, and 3. the grounds and rooms are so cute! The food at our hotel was also great - we had the complimentary breakfast every day, and got pad thai most of the days we were there for lunch as well.
Nearby there’s also a Sofitel, Villa Maly, and Mekong Riverview Hotel. Beautiful, 5 star hotels in Laos are so inexpensive - I’d recommend splurging and enjoying your time here :)
What To See:
Our main focus while in Luang Prabang was spending time at MandaLao Elephant Sanctuary, taking photos and getting to know the beautiful elephants they’ve rescued. MandaLao is Laos’ first ethical and observational elephant tour, showing people how they can be close to elephants and learn about them while maintaining respect for these wild animals. Most elephant camps in Laos are ones where riding is the main attraction, which is so harmful to elephants and a brutal process for them to go through. MandaLao really stresses the importance of education on elephant welfare - a tour there includes learning about elephants from an expert, meeting all the elephants and feeding them bananas, and then going for a jungle hike!
Laos is such a vibrant, culturally rich place. When we weren’t at the sanctuary, we spent our time going to the night market, checking out cute shops and restaurants in town, and some of the Buddhist temples. There’s also Mt. Phousi for a quick hike and a stellar view, and Kuang Si Falls for an amazing swimming/hiking spot. I’d honestly recommend just walking around - there’s so much to see at every turn.
Where To Eat:
Normally in this section of my blog post, I’d give you recommendations on some good restaurants to check out. But the thing I discovered about Luang Prabang is that most of the best restaurants were unmarked hole-in-the-wall places we stumbled into by accident. Probably the best meal we had the whole trip is about one block away from Sada Hotel - we walked in and I asked for a menu. The woman said, “No menu. Only one thing. Noodle soup. Ok?”
So I said, “Ok.” and we sat down. When she brought us the noodle soup I quickly realized why it was the only thing on the menu.
The street food in Luang Prabang is also amazing- be sure to try the coconut pancakes. For those ACTUALLY wanting some restaurant recs - we really loved Bouang and Dyen Sabai.
Here are some more photos from my time in Luang Prabang!
I hope some of this inspired you to maybe travel to Laos one day. I feel like this country absolutely doesn’t get enough credit - it took my breath away from the moment I landed. The people here are also some of the kindest I’ve ever met. I can’t wait to go back someday and see more of it. If you’ve been to Laos, let me know in the comments!