I loved every single moment I spent in Laos.
Indochina is considered Asia’s best kept secret and I would say its landscape is so beautiful to look unreal.
I didn’t know what to expect from it when I first set off from Switzerland. I was ready to give my tiny contributions to volunteer teaching English to novices in Luang Prabang and the only thing I knew was that the city was a wonderful, calm and spiritual place (exactly what I needed for my adventure).
My “Baptism” to Lao Culture and Landscape
After a 27 hour flight, I landed in Luang Prabang, a gorgeous UNESCO world heritage site on the banks of the Mekong. Luang Prabang is an outstanding example for both its rich architectural and artistic heritage that reflects the fusion of Lao traditional urban architecture with that of the colonial era. Its remarkably well-preserved townscape reflects the alliance of these two distinct cultural traditions.Situated at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, it earned UNESCO World Heritage status thanks to its well-preserved architecture that blends traditional Laos and French colonial styles.
I spent the first two nights in a very basic guesthouse, next to the one I would have lived during my weeks as volunteer. Beatrice, an Italian girl who has chosen Laos as her home, was my guide and my angel and introduced me to the city and to Lao culture. I cannot stop thanking Bea for such a warm welcoming. On my first day, Bea gave me a tour of the city, just after having a glorious breakfast in a stand by the day market. After a delicious fruit shake and sticky rice with mango, we started to stroll around the city center. I was stunned by all the beauty around me and I every 5 min I was stopping staring at the marvelous temples which give Luang Prabang a touch of magic and spirituality. Golden-roofed wats, decorated with mosaics and murals of the life of Buddha, sit under the gaze of wrap-around teak balconies and 19th century shuttered windows. All of this is set against a backdrop of verdant greenery and rugged mountains. It’s easy to love this town for its cute cafes with fairy lights, traditional teak wood buildings, and small golden-roofed temples. And despite the presence of numerous luxury boutique hotels and some fancy restaurants with French names, the town can welcome tourists no matter their budget. I think Luang Prabang’s appeal is mostly in its cute wooden Lao houses and former colonial mansions, and the riverside location makes it a lovely spot to unwind.
I was impressed to see such a big difference compared to the suburbs. As a visitor, I could not help but be amazed by the tidiness and cleanliness of this city, above all compared to the surroundings. The roads in the center are lined with quaint wooden guest houses, bakeries, and wine bars, and a quick stroll after dark will take you to a superbly colorful night market. The city center is undoubtedly very European, with French influence heavily felt and almost every corner a magnificent temple grabs tourists’ attention.
The centre of the city consists of four main roads and is located on a peninsula at the confluence of Nam Khan and Mekong river.