Luang Prabang is a beautiful, clean town set on the Mekong and surrounded by mountains. There are plenty of French Colonial style buildings still standing and it has a different feel to other parts of South East Asia. There are a number of monastery’s all around town and it takes a while to get use to all the monks walking the street in their saffron robes just going about their business. Many of the monks in town are novices, studying at one of the monk schools. There are also a couple of schools for higher Buddhist studies as well.
Just over the Nam Khan River is a small town that specialises in crafts and textiles. Here three of us were able to see how they make the paper that is used for many of the paintings on sale throughout the town. Made from a bark of a tree that grows just outside of town, it is soaked for a number of days until it becomes like a paper mache, it is then spread out through water over a framed piece of mesh and then dried in the sun. Leaves and flowers can even be added to add for a bit of extra style, and often price.
There are a number of sites to see in and around town, mostly Wats, but there are some good treks, caves, waterfalls and kayaking but they all come at a price which is often much higher than the other parts of the country. Luang Prabang is a great place to chill out and take it easy. On the other side of the river which you can get to by long tail boat after negotiating with the driver to get as close to the local price as possible, there are some great hiking trails that can lead you over the mountain and onto villages that don’t see many tourists.
After Luang Prabang I began my journey to China by boat via Pak Beng.