I only visited Luang Prabang in Laos and I have mixed feelings about whether I should’ve been to more cities. Part of me feels that the rest of Laos would have offered me primarily the same experience as in Luang Prabang. The feeling stems from articles on the internet and talking to people about “what to do in Laos.” But part of me feels that I should’ve at least given the country a chance to visit other popular destinations like Vang Vieng, the capital Vientiane, and Huang Xian to do the Gibbon Experience, where you hike for 3 days straight in the jungle, use zip lines on your own, and sleep in tree houses. But given the places I’ve yet to go, I decided to head to Vietnam after only 5 days in Laos and visiting only one city.
This small town is the most popular destination in Laos, according to me and zero amount of research. And I believe this is due to the amazing Kuang Si Waterfalls. They are not the biggest, but they are the most beautiful I have ever seen in my life. Because of a hangover, I almost decided to not go and remain in bed all day. But thanks to everyone saying that the waterfalls are an absolute must-see while in Laos, I picked myself up and went. On my way there, I thought, they can’t be that nice. Look at all these rivers on the way there. They’re just your typical brown jungle water. But upon my first sighting of the water coming from the waterfall, I was blown away.
And it gets better the higher you go…
Until you finally get to the best part:
This was by far the best thing to see and do in Luang Prabang. It is worth traveling to Laos for. But this excursion was just one of my five days. The other four days were the best part for me.
Given the slow pace of life in Luang Prabang, it begs for people to get together and socialize. It is not hard to do as the locals themselves foster this initiative. On my first night in the city, I was lucky enough to tag along with a group of individuals ranging from Europe to the Middle East. We had a great Laotian dinner, and we made it just in time for the 2-1 happy hour drinks! It was a great time that instantly made me happy to have come to Laos. But what happened next took it to another level.
Upon leaving the restaurant, as we walked down the stairs on our way to the bamboo bridge, I noticed a trio of locals drinking beer and playing guitar, having a great time. I almost didn’t interrupt, but then I waved and said hi together with the ‘that’s cool sign’ 👍. So they asked me to have some beer and pulled out a chair next to them. I sat with them immediately, and they handed me the guitar. The rest of the guys I was with joined in as well.
It’s hard to tell how long we were with the locals. My guess is about 2-3 hours. They barely spoke English, we didn’t speak Lao, shit, I barely play guitar but none of that mattered. It was my first day in Laos, and I knew that would be the highlight of my entire stay. The remaining four days could not top that evening, but what it gave some of us was a friendship that elevated the rest of our stay. We hung out as a group everyday, until one by one, each member headed towards their next destination.
It’s hard letting go of amazing people you meet, but, unfortunately, that is the nature of relationships on the road. Some go home and return to their lives, and some go on trying to recapture that magic that once touched them in Laos. Promises were made so maybe I will see them again.