Hello there, first time traveller to Laos and in need of advice please. Am unfamiliar with the layout of the town and which area would be better suited for me - I've been looking at Riverside GH, Soul Lan Xang GH, and Sayo GH. With Sayo probably Sayo River or Sayo Xieng Mouane. Has anyone any experience of these, which would you choose and why? What is the distance to say, the morning market, national museum, Tat Luang and Wat Sisaket? How far are they from where I could book a tour?
Are the streets where they are located well lit? Being a solo travller, how safe is it to walk alone after dark? Where does one go for the monk's morning ritual? And how do you get from the boats to where your accommodation is?
Any advice greatfully appreciated. Thank you.
see hobomaps.com for really detailed town maps of both LPB & VTE.
not stayed in any of the places you have listed.
from closest to the epicentre of the touristy area of LPB to furthest:
1. Sayo Xieng Mouane
2. Souk Lane Xang is very near Wat Nong.
3. Sayo River
4. Riverside GH (Ban Khili - quieter)
epicentre being the stretch of Sisavangvong Rd between the Royal Palace Museum & the 'monk-shooting range' (aka. intersection outside the primary school)...packed with restaurants, travel agents & what seems like more foreigners than Lao people ;)
best to double check if these 4 places (esp Sayo River) have steps leading up from street level to the ground floor, as most properties near the river in LPB do, incl some of those near Sayo River (e.g. Le Calao Inn).
also, for Riverside GH, you may see on the map several side streets connecting the riverfront road (Kingkitsalat) to the main road (Sakkhaline), but many of these side streets along this Nam Khan-facing side of the peninsula are upslope with steps.
last time i was there (Dec 09) some side streets were still not that well lit. but the night market stretch of Sisavangvong is, & remains busy till 10+pm. the riverfront road along the Mekong side of the peninsula has decent street lighting, but by ~9+pm it (& also the stretch of Sakkhaline beyond LPB primary school) can be rather empty. once in a while LPB still gets the occasional power failure, i always have a small torch in my bag.
Where does one go for the monk's morning ritual?
everywhere. not just in LPB, but in towns & villages across Laos, Thailand, etc. might want to have a think about this.
And how do you get from the boats to where your accommodation is?
you mean slowboat? they dock behind the Royal Palace. it's quite a slope up from the shore to the road - see 1st, 2nd & 8th photos here. tuktuks wait at the road at the top of the slope. you can check the distance from the slowboat landing to the various GHs on hobomaps.
What is the distance to say, the morning market, national museum, Tat Luang and Wat Sisaket?
this question seems to be about Vientiane rather than LPB? though LPB does have a museum, & also a morning market (but mainly very very fresh food for sale, unlike the Vientiane one that sells things that do not have scientific/botanical names & cannot look you in the eye).
I stayed in 2 guesthouse while in LP recently, and both were very nice, very affordable and could not have been more convenient. The Manichan GH ($21.) between the Morning Market and the Mekong was really ideal, and for food lovers, the gourmet breakfasts were just wonderful. The Souksavath GH ($12.) was the bargain of the year and located behind the JOMA Bakery (just beyond the post office). I would gladly stay in either again and highly recommend both to everyone. Souksavath was ultra cozy with 5 rooms and a great manager - I ate at the bakery.
(see Lao New Listings for contact info for both properties)
Again you are not pointing out that your price includes a shared bathroom. Nor that airconditioning and breakfast is extra in the low season. I don't know if you are affiliated with this gh or not, (Manichan), but if not the least you could do is to print the correct prices including extras.
Below are the high season rates from their website. The kip is around 8000 to the $US
King Size Double Room 280.000 kip
● Double Twin or Queen Room 240.000 kip
● Double Room for Singles 200.000 kip
I ended up booking Souk Lan Xang which was $30 and includes breakfast. Although I preferred the location of the Sayo Xieng Mouane, I liked the 'feel' of SoukLanXang. I'll let you all know what it was like after my trip.
Thank you for your help.
Rufus - I had a private bath at the Manichan, and my $21. room included breakfast. I can't help it if high season prices have increased!
I also had a private bath at my other guesthouse.
(No, I am not affiliated with any property in Laos or SE Asia - I'm a retired guy from Oregon USA and a satisfied customer)
Captain - if you click on Hobomaps for LP, you will see just how small the center of town is. The only problem I had was that the Night Market cut off my walking from both guesthouses to restaurants further down in the center (I had to use the route along the Mekong to get around at night). I went to Wat Mai to watch the early am alms of the monks - it was somewhat of a letdown since only about 8 monks showed up! LP is one really nice destination, but it certainly is overrun with tourists! By far, my favorite place was the waterfalls. Outside of LP you'll see the real Laos, the poor Laos!
about wanderingcat's answer on below question,
"Where does one go for the monk's morning ritual?
everywhere. not just in LPB, but in towns & villages across Laos, Thailand, etc. might want to have a think about this."
and having read the link he gave, does anyone have idea which part of LP that less touristy to witnessing this ritual? any suggestion?
Monks and novices file down the streets at dawn in just about any northern Lao/Thai towns. Why the hell it's become such a tourist event in Luang Prabang specifically is a mystery except that local shops have started catering to it by selling gift packages for silly prices aimed at the camera-toting monk-gawking toutist element. Do everyone (except those shops) a favour and leave the safron-robed guys alone.
Outside of LP you'll see the real Laos, the poor Laos!
within LPB one will also see the real Laos & the poor Laos, if one observes carefully.
Monks and novices file down the streets at dawn in just about any northern Lao/Thai towns.
also wherever there are large enough Theravada Buddhist communities to support temples. so not just northern Laos/Thailand but all parts of those 2 countries, plus Burma, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, etc...
Why the hell it's become such a tourist event in Luang Prabang specifically is a mystery
maybe cos of the density of temples & the sheer no. of novices (monks are actually quite few in number) housed within the small area of the old city. enough to form those long lines. maybe tourists just love to photograph long lines of things that are identical in appearance e.g. penguin parade in zoos.
btw heard that Thai tourists are now doing the same to the monks in Chiang Khan.
I agree with Bob and WSC. On my way to work in the morning I drive through a number of villages, (suburbs), in Vientiane. At all of them I pass monks getting their food in the morning. It is a natural and normal part of the day.
An update - I said in #6 I'd let you all know what Souk Lan Xang was like - well it was an absolute dump and the person who recommended it in such glowing terms either needs glasses or is living in a fantasy world! The lane it was in was dingy and uninviting, and the place itself was a dark, miserable little dump.
The room was very small and dark - the two "windows" looked at a brick wall while the other looked towards the front where motorbikes were parked. And worst of all was the smell - dank and mouldy smelling.
I didn't stay there. And they were asking US$30 - I found much better on the riverfront.
Sorry to hear that CC, however I did give you the names of some good places to stay like the Riverside Guesthouse, which is lovely, on the river and in the quiet part of town.
How are you enjoying your trip so far?
Hi...just got back from Laos....
I was in LPB for 3 days, and stayed at Nam Sok GH, next to Wat Xieng Mouane.
Good place, located at the central (check at hobomaps) but quiet enough.....you can sleep like a baby :)
I recommendthis GH. Price? 100.000 kip, double bed, private bathroom with hot water available, no ACbut there is a big fan, no braekfast but 2 bottle of drinking water aregiven for free everyday...no free banana either :p
btw, anyone want to see the morning alm at LPB, i recommend to see it in front of Wat Sene....good back ground there