Luang Prabang has kept the memory of French colonialism. It is a lovely city where old French houses neighbor magnificent temples. We had already seen a loooooot of temples since the beginning of our trip, but the ones in Luang Prabang surprised us by their beautiful colorful mosaics. We especially loved the most famous one: Vat Xieng Thong.
In Luang Prabang, we have also eaten our first Lao food. They use lots of herbs when they cook. We tried the lap which is a popular dish with minced meat and herbs, served with sticky rice, a specific type of rice which is cooked in a basket and is more compact than normal steamed rice, so that you can pick it and eat it like bread. Actually we found it by chance, when looking for a restaurant where the names of the dishes were written in Lao. Actually, it is our way to find places that are not only for tourists!
Apart from this, we also ate a lot of… croissants! Culinary vestiges of the French presence in Laos. At the Banneton, a famous bakery, we ate good croissants and nice bread!
Our main activity (and favorite one!) in Luang Prabang was to get lost in the small streets of the old city, admiring the architecture, so French!
We also climbed the hill in the middle of the city which offers amazing views on the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers.
During the evening, we would go through the night market and find our favorite spot: a small street with a vegetarian buffet where you can fill your plate as much as ou can for only 15000 kip (2 USD). And one morning we had enough motivation to go jogging around the city!
We enjoyed staying in our nice wooden guesthouse, Soutikone Guesthouse, found by chance and welcomed by a lovely Lao who insisted to give us her best room with view over the Mekong River!
We also took advantage of being in Luang Prabang to make our Vietnamese visas at the Vietnamese consulate, much cheaper to do them directly at the consulate then hiring a tour agency in town (45 USD vs 70 USD).
Last but not least, when arriving in Luang Prabang, we discovered that President Obama was coming the day after! That day, Obama visited Vat Xieng Thong late morning but we could only feel his presence through the several Lao soldiers along the way from our guesthouse to the place we had breakfast.
Luang Prabang is really a nice little city where the atmosphere is quiet (I guess especially at this time when it is low season), we loved it! But we felt that this lovely city did not represent the reality of Laos so we decided to move to the North, in the countryside!