Elf’s 3 things to do Luang Prabang

Our favourite three things to do in Luang Prabang.  In no particular order.

One – Cooking school

This might not be for everyone, but we love taking cooking classes when we travel.  I think it is a great way to explore local ingredients and traditions.  Having read some of the reviews we decided to book in with Tamarind Cooking School.  The group is quite small which is nice, we head off to the main market which is Phousi Market.  It is a complete sensory overload, the smell, the colours, the noise, it is great.  We then drive up into the hills and to a lovely cooking school hidden up in the hills surrounded by streams and ponds, there is beautiful lush forest around us.  We cook five different dishes and lots of sauces to accompany them.  the setting its lovely, we are outside and I especially enjoy love cooking on the outside fires.  The food is delicious, the teaching easy to follow and we even leave with a book of the recipes we have tried out today.

Two – Waterfalls

There are lots of waterfalls to choose from, we visited two Tad Sae which is less touristy and easier if you want to take a dip.  It is so beautiful it’s hard to believe.  We also visited Kwang Si waterfalls, also beautiful, it takes a little bit more of a walk to get to the main falls, but its lovely.  At Kwang Si there is also the bear rescue centre which is wonderful, the bear rescue relies on donations to continue their work and actually receives no money from the entry fee to the waterfalls.  There is a strict modesty etiquette at all the waterfalls, there are changing rooms and bathrooms.

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Three – Alms giving ceremony

Every day at dawn the monks from all the temples in Luang Prabang to collect alms.  I take up a quiet spot on a stair to watch.  The devotees start to appear as the sun is rising, they take up positions kneeling on the sides of the roads, they bring offerings, normally of rice although some will offer fruit or other items.  The monks pass in silent single file past the devotees, the monks take the offerings and place this into their metal bowls, this is the food that they will have for the day.  This is a lovely and beautiful spiritual experience.  I find it very moving and feel very privileged to have experienced this ritual.

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Folk tale from Laos

One of my favourite things that I discovered when in Luang Prabang were monkey ear mushroom crisps.  The monkey ear mushrooms are a speciality of the area, the mushrooms are dehydrated and dried then flavoured with salt, kaffir lime leaves and chilli.  delicious!

When I was doing some research into folk tales, I came across this beautiful story about monkey ear mushrooms!  Here is a little excerpt, but if you would like to read more please head over to this lovely website Asian Folk Tales

 

Hanuman was puzzled. He did not know exactly what kind of mushrooms he should get for Queen Sida. Queen Sida herself could have told Hanuman what kind of mushrooms she would like if they were not monkey-ear mushrooms. Then Hanuman had an idea. “Don’t worry your majesty. I will bring you what you want.”

Hanuman flew off, and soon he was back again. With a great plop… he deposited the entire top of Oudomxay Mountain right in front of the palace.

“There you are, Your Majesty! What you want must be here somewhere. Just pick whatever you like!”

So, Queen Sida sent her servants to pick the mushrooms from the top of the mountain Hanuman had brought. That evening, the queen had the best monkey-ear mushrooms for dinner. She was grateful to Hanuman, for his wit and intelligence and for the most delicious meal in her life.

 

Elf in Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang or Lung Phabang is a city in the north central Laos it is actually made up of lots of surrounding towns and is a UNESCO city due to its beautiful and well preserved architecture as well as its religious and cultural heritage.

When you fly into this beautiful place the world seems to open up as you appear fly between the hills, mountains and soar over the Mekong.  Breath taking from the start.

We stay slightly outside of the main part of the town in a beautiful series of cabins around a series of ponds.  It is lovely. Most of the hotels and hostels have bikes for rental or that you can use for free, ours is no different and I would recommend this as the best and easiest way to get around Luang Phabang.  The main centre of town is set around four main roads and there are lots of little roads that lead off these. But it is very easy to find your way around even I manage with my terrible sense of direction.

The centre of Luang Phabang is dominated by mount Phou Si follow the stairs all the way up to the Wat Chom Si which is a lovely shrine.  Its small and delicate. The view is beautiful, the air is full of butterflies and there are green trees stretching out in front of us.

Theimag1278 markets are a great place to eat and you wind yourself into the lanes to a buffet style eating experience.  Most of this food is vegetarian and served cold.  The colours and smells of these food markets is …wow!  Defiantly and experience, not the best food of the trip I have to say, but the experience is much more than just the food.  It is wonderful we sit and chat with locals and tourists of all walks of life and it reminds me so acutely why I love to travel.

Luang Phabang is full of life and just brimming with wonder.  As I write this I realise there are so many things we need to share.

Another wonderful day was spent cycling around the Wats (temples) which I really recommend.  Luang Phabang has over 30 Wats so don’t try to see them all.  We set out with a map and a planned route but in the end, we ditched this and had a meandering cycle around the streets of Luang Phabang and stopped in and Wats that we saw when we felt like it.  The highlights were Wat Xieng Thong, which is the Golden wat and probably the most famous of the Wats, Wat Visoun Narath with its lovely and unusual roof and Wat That Luang which is home to a very large bronze Buddha.  Remember there is a strict etiquette policy, make sure you are dressed appropriately, shoulders and knees covered, take your shoes off before entering.

The people of Laos are lovely, Luang Phabang is a magical place with much to offer and to do.

Look out for our next post on our top things to do in Luang Phabang.

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