Luang Prabang's Hippest Cafe, 1 Dollar Buffet, and Many More!

Luang Prabang, Laos - Mekong River

Our second day in Luang Prabang was mostly about touring other scenic spots that don't include temples. If you have already visited Indochina, then you'll probably get what I mean when I say temples. Not just one or two. Heck, not even five! There's just too many that after some time in the country, you'll get used to seeing temples everywhere. 

We're not on a long term travel, unlike Western backpackers who stay in a certain country for weeks or even months. We only have 2 days in Luang Prabang so we have to get the most out of it. And to get the most out of this trip, we also had to slow down a little because that's what this place is known for. A very laid back town where everyone takes their time. 

Also, just a side note. I almost got confused on who was the local in the area! It feels like the backpackers already outnumbered the locals! Lol. Everywhere you look, there's a Western backpacker. As for us, well since we're Asians, we blend in. Lol. But srsly, it's almost hard to tell who owns the place anymore as there are just too many travelers. I am not even sure if it's a good thing a bad thing. 

But anyways, back to the story...

Alms Giving Ceremony


On our second day, I made sure we get to see the most sacred Lao tradition. Among all my Southeast Asian trips, this tradition, by far, is the most unique I've seen yet. Every early morning, there's an Alms Giving Ceremony happening in the main street of the town. This is the time where monks from different temples line up and receive food from locals and travelers who want to experience the tradition. 

Luang Prabang, Laos - Alms Giving Ceremony

Luang Prabang, Laos

If you're not familiar, Buddhism believes in merit and good deeds wherein if you do something good, it is an added merit to you. So this Alms Giving Ceremony is one of the venues where Buddhist practice this. They place a mat on the sidewalk, sit, and wait for the monks to pass by. 

Some of the food I saw they give are sticky rice (they give it bare handed. Not sure if the rice was eaten or was it just part of the tradition too?), some local bread, and many more. 

There are also some people who already took advantage of the ceremony and made a living out of it. Some locals would sell sticky rice and other goods to travelers so travelers can sit on the sidewalk too and try giving alms themselves. I don't see anything wrong with this except that some vendors are somehow already aggressive and the ceremony doesn't look like a sacred one already. It somehow looked like a business opportunity already. But anyways.. as long as the monks carry on with their tradition, it's fine. 

There are many monks from different temples coming in from different directions. We just stand there, taking photos. To be a tourist though and an observer comes with a responsibility too. Almost all temples in Luang Prabang has a warning or a do's and dont's announcement to everyone who'll attend or observe the Alms Giving Ceremony. 

Of course, this includes proper clothing. Being respectful with monks and do not block their way. Not causing any interruptions when the monks walk, and since this is early morning, camera flash can also be a form of interruption or being rude. Seems that there are already countless instances where travelers or observers do not follow proper decorum in the ceremony. In this kind of situation, please remember that we are not in our own city so we have to respect the way of life of the locals. 

After observing the Alms Giving Ceremony, we went back to the public market and we had our breakfast at the same place where we had it on our first day. Their Khao Soy is just something you have to keep on eating while in Luang Prabang because after you leave Luang Prabang, there's no way in the world you can eat authentic Khao soy anymore. I even described it as something better than Vietnam's Pho. And I am not kidding!

Luang Prabang, Laos
Not sure what this is called but these are like super small mangoes

Luang Prabang, Laos
How to make the perfect Khao Soy?

I am just making false hope if I want a Lao cuisine open here in Manila. It ain't gonna happen. At least not for the next few years as Laos is still not known to many Filipinos yet. 

After eating and observing the local goods, we went back to the inn to continue snoozing since it was still early in the morning. Our itinerary for the day is super relaxed. After getting some sleep and having our bags ready for departure to Vientiane that night, we then set off to see what else can Luang Prabang has to offer. 

It was lunch time when we're about to check out so we first had our lunch beside the Mekong river. We tried some authentic Lao food. To be honest, you can't even seem to know if it's an authentic Lao food or was it already influenced by its neighboring countries?

Luang Prabang, Laos
Tam Maak Hoong / Spicy papaya salad on the lower left. It was actually good! The rest, I don't know what it's called. Looool

Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre


Our next stop was Luang Prabang's Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC). This a small museum where you can see the different arts and culture of different Lao ethnic groups. Who would've thought there are a lot of ethnic groups under Laos? And each of it can be physically differentiated to the way of how they dress. Every ethnic group has a different type of clothing.

Luang Prabang, Laos
Entrance of TAEC. Sure does look like an entrance to a house

Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos

Aside from a mini museum, they also have an activity where you can try different Lao clothing and a mini cafe where you can refresh or just chill. We didn't really stay in their cafe as upon researching, there's this cafe in Luang Prabang where many travelers frequently go to. Of course, we just had to try it! And I'm glad we did! 

Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos
The activity area where you can try out different Lao clothes

Utopia


Utopia is like a backpacker haven. I like how hippie it looks like and how it helps freelancers or digital nomads do their work. The cafe has a super fast internet wherein during my whole stay in Luang Prabang, their internet is actually the fastest. The cafe also has a court for playing volleyball/basketball, offers yoga classes, and lots of sockets everywhere so you can always be connected to the world wide web. Lol.

Seriously, if I were to live in Luang Prabang, I would probably frequent this place too! 

We had our mini siesta in this place before we head back to the inn. You know, getting some rest before we conquer Vientiane. 

Luang Prabang, Laos
We had a hard time finding the cafe because it was inside a narrow street but it was worth it in the end :)

Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos
Yoga class

Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos


1 Dollar Buffet and Different Lao Street Foods


Going back to the inn, we pass by the night market again. Desperately looked for a souvenir shirt but couldn't find anything good. Instead, we just ate our early dinner. So apparently, there's this small street we saw that offers different kinds of street food. This also is the so called buffet street because many are offering a buffet for $1. Yup. $1!!! 

While I was researching, I was excited to try this one but glad we didn't actually try it as I read various cases of food poisoning and stomachache. Well, for this trip, we can't suffer any mad stomach ache or else we'll ruin our planned itinerary. 

Luang Prabang, Laos
$1 dollar buffet

Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos
Not for the faint hearted

Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos
My fave Lao streetfood

Luang Prabang, Laos

And after 2 days of exploring this laid back, World heritage town, we set off to go to the bus terminal departing for Vientiane. We bought our tickets already before the said date so it was pretty much a hassle free trip.

Overnight Bus to Vientiane


So.. bus, you ask? Yup, overnight bus. Wonder what's like? First, you have to take off your shoes and put it in the plastic bag they will provide you. We were clueless at first but one traveler told us what to do. The inside of the bus is too narrow and there are actually double beds provided.

Each bed occupies two people. So if you're traveling alone or in groups of odds numbers, then 1 of you might just sleep next to a stranger. And who knows who's that stranger is. The bed is also too small that I and my father needs to lie down straight without moving for the entire night. 

Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos

I was able to sleep though but it was a bit shaky. In times like this, I think you need to assess your capabilities if you're okay sleeping beside a stranger and if you're okay not moving while laying down. Also, if you're too tall, you might not fit the bed.

If you can't seem to do all these conditions then you better off taking a plane to Vientiane than taking a bus. 

After an overnight trip, we arrived in Vientiane at around 6 AM. All of the passengers seems still sleepy but we had no choice but to get off. 

And this is where our Vientiane experience starts. But that's for another post. :)

You see, being a backpacker is totally not easy. But it was fun!

Luang Prabang, Laos

Here's me in a traditional Lao clothing :D




Luang Prabang, Laos

CONVERSATION

12 comments:

  1. Wow! First of all I love your pics bright and lovely.Second, $1 buffet is too goid to be true.Glad you didn't try it out.But the Utopia cafe really looks cool with the yoga class.You post makes me want to go to Laos now.Great post!

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  2. I haven't been on holiday for about a year now but after sifting through your photos and stories I'm ready to pack my suitcase!

    I really love how you've included information about the buddhist ceremony but what sold me on this trip was the $1 buffet!? Amazing! :) Safe Travels and keep up the amazing work!

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  3. I read your post title and rushed right down it... $1 buffet??? OMG! I want to dig in through the screen and grab everything I can. I also love the Lao Streetfood! So much fun :D

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  4. Wow! This is new and very interesting to me. As you can see my last name is Lao so I feel belong to this culture and country. Plus, nothing will beat a $1 buffet. I hope someday I get to visit this beautiful country.

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  5. This alms giving ceremony is new to me. I wish it isn't commercialized and the sanctity of the act is maintained. Lovely captures. The food scene there is tempting me.

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  6. Such lovely photos! I've read about the alms giving in another blog post on the internet. I'm curious though as it allowed women. I mean, I could see that there were women in your photos. I've read in that blog post that women aren't allowed to be near? Well anyway, the food really looks sumptuous and Utopia is such a wonderful cafe to be in! I guess, no one has brought that yet in PH, right? 😃

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  7. Probably one of the most deatiled write up on Laos that Ive read - thank you for this. 1 dollar buffet?! What?! I also got stuck at the Alms Giving Ceremony. Really imagined what was taking over at that time through your photos.

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  8. It seems Laos is a great destination for a cultural tour.Alms giving ceremony is something I'd love to join.The other pictures including traditional costumes make me wanting to visit Laos soon.And $1 buffet?It is something worth to try!

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  9. Is that some sort of advertising? A dollar for a buffet? That would be the first buffet that I heard which is the cheapest out there. The alms ceremony is also new to me. I didn't know that there is a ceremony for that. Sounds interesting to know.

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  10. The utopia cafe is cool! And yes i agree that the $1 buffet is too good to be true. That was like eat all you can for the price of P45 pesos and where will my appetite take me with the spread of food or the kind of it that they offer. Anyhoo, the pictures were all beautiful and its always nice to visit and explore new places!

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  11. I actually love everything about your post. The best part, at least for me, is getting to know the tradition, being there with the monks in the early morning, and visiting the center. However, Utopia is what made me really surprised, especially with their super fast internet. I think I would also be a very frequent guest in this place.
    I see you have had a super busy and interesting day. I envy you a little bit, but I am also glad you enjoyed it! :)

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  12. I haven´t been to Laos, more so Luang Prabang but your post is so inviting! Especially that $1 buffet! Also, Utopia definitely looks like a backpackers´ haven! Man, I wouldn´t want to leave. But I wonder, is the internet there faster than here in the Philippines?

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