Laos’ first Unesco site Luang Prabang
You can opt to go from Hanoi to Luang Prabang by bus for only 35-40€. This option aka the ’24-hours journey from hell’ option is for sure the cheapest way. I however preferred paying 130€ for a 1-hour flight with Vietnam Airlines than taking this hell ride! My visa on arrival cost me another 35$+1$ administration fee. A friend told me I would really like Luang Prabang as people are very friendly and especially not pushy when bying stuff at eg. the nightmarket. It appeared she was right 🙂 Of course there are exceptions but most of the Lao people I met had smiles on there faces and were very polite.
Luang Prabang is considered one of the 3 biggest cities in Laos, so one would expect loads of tourists in the streets. And although there are for sure many tourists, I never felt overwelmed by them. It, on the contrary breathes an atmospheric and charming vibe. The fact that it is set at the confluence of two rivers that surround the town, and beneath the temple-topped hill of Phu Si is definitely a reason why people love this place.
There are heaps of Wats in Luang Prabang and you can try to visit all of them, but I just picked 2-3 to visit, including the one at the Royal Palace Museum.
One day I got up at 5 am to see the monks alms procession. I found a spot with not too many tourists and on a respectfull distance during the procession. At certain moments I felt ashamed to be a tourist as some are not at all respectfull as they get uncomfortably close to them and taking pics WITH flash all the way!
29 kms out of Luang Prabang are the extremely picturesque Kuang Si Falls. A great place to spend the day and bathe in one of the natural pools. Unfortunately I went quite late that day so the sun was already going away and without the sun it can be a bit chilly. So a good tip, GO EARLY!