Untouched beauty... and great night markets
Trip Start Dec 20, 2008
42Trip End Sep 12, 2009
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Flew from Hanoi to Vientiane and we noticed that we weren't in Vietnam anymore as soon as we got off the plane. It was just so quiet and laid back with no honking horns! The drivers were a bit more civilized and alot safer. Vientiane is apparently the worlds most relaxed capital city. We spent two nights there but it wasn't the most exciting place.
Went to a Buddha park, about 25kms outside of the city. There was a huge collection of Buddha and Hindu sculptures that were constructed in the 50's. Pretty nice to see with some great photo ops. We experienced some literal "riverside dining" on plastic chairs and tables in the mud beside the river. Very classy.
From there we took a 4 hr bus ride to Vang Vieng. As soon as we arrived there the landscape changed from flat ricefields to dramatic limestone pillars all along the river. Vang Vieng is a small town, famous for the popular river tubing. It seems like every backpacker in Asia does it but we can see why, it was alot of fun. Basically you just get tuk tuk's full of people and tubes dropped off up river. Then you have the whole day to make the 1.5hr journey back, stopping along the way at numerous bars/restaruants that attract you in with giant swings, slides, ziplines, mudpits etc etc. Besides the tubing, Vang Vieng had some great spots to lounge in some river side hammocks and watch the sunset.
Yesterday we took a long and windy 7hr bus ride to Luang Prabang. Again, the landscape changed dramatically. We were winding our way through mountain regions, passing little villages that were perched on the side of the cliffs. It was a 300km journey that took all day, but it was beautiful (when i could stand having my eyes open). hahaha
Luang Prabang is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and it really inforces the rules to keep it quiet and cultural friendly. There are no big trucks or buses allowed in the downtown area and all bars and restaruants close at 11:30pm, by law. One of the main streets closes to traffic at night and turns into a HUGE night market. It goes on forever with everything from souveniers, textiles, carvings, paintings, and foodstalls galore. Its got a nice ambience feel to it with all the lanterns lit and lots of locals as well as travelers walking around.
Luang Prabang is a great place to rent a bike and just explore. There are tons of waterfalls and caves around the outskirts of town as well as numerous temples and museums.