Scoot makes its debut to Laos with an inaugural flight to Luang Prabang, Laos. I am honoured to be their “first customer” on this maiden flight and was very excited to re-visit Laos again. (I was sitting at Row 1, so literally I should be the first one who arrived in Luang Prabang by Scoot! haha) It has been 4 years since I last visited Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. In my opinion, Laos remains one of the most relaxing and calm countries in South East Asia. Read my past Vientiane’s article: 10 Things To Do In Vientiane, Laos
It was my first visit to Luang Prabang. The ancient capital of the country lies between two major rivers, Mekong River and Nam Khan River. Like any ancient capital city that is situated in the valley surrounded by natural resources, Luang Prabang has a history of being a powerful and rich city. Today, Luang Prabang is exceptional for its rich and artistic heritage that reflects the fusion of Laotians’ traditional urban architecture, and has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
When asked about Laos, some people confused it as being part of China, Thailand, Vietnam, or most people think is somewhere in South East Asia. This landlocked country is just like a little gem that situated in between the four giant neighbours (China, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar), and has a lot to offer. Here are 18 things to look out for in Luang Prabang, Laos.
#1 Get Up Close & Personal With The Elephants
Elephants are one of the most amazing animals in the world. I have learned about their affections towards human beings and have excellent memories. Sadly there are many threats towards one of the greatest gentle mammals on earth. The evil poachers are gunning for their tusk, and commercial activities such as elephant riding and circus captivity are hurting these beautiful creatures.
I’m grateful that elephants are treated very well in Laos. There are many elephants sanctuary and conservation projects to help these animals survive through the harsh threats. If you visit Luang Prabang, you must come visit one of the elephants village, where you will be given a chance to come up close and personal with them, which I didn’t had the chance in Africa. You will also be given a chance to walk the elephants around the village and have a close contact and connection with these beautiful mammals.
When you walk a dog, the poor dog needs up keep to you, but when I walk an elephant, poor me has to keep up with them! Haha Please say no to elephant riding! 🙂
#2 Plitvice Lakes In South East Asia
Remember seeing this photo in 2016 from my Instagram?
Today, you don’t have to fly all the way to Croatia to visit the Plitvice Lakes to experience the beautiful turquoise waterfalls and rapids! Seeing these cold and crystal clear water fall gently on the rocks and stones in Kuangsi Waterfalls, help cleanse my mind and refresh my soul. I highly recommend you spend at least half a day here to enjoy the waterfalls fully as it is a large area with a different sections. The area is well equipped with basic changing facilities and toilets, so you don’t have to go home wet. Remember to grab your go-pro for some jump shots, this waterfall is a must visit!
#3 Support Some Rescued Bears
Located within the Kuangsi Waterfall premises is a bear sanctuary, where visitors can spend some money to support these lovely bears that have been rescued from illegal pet trades and was previously living in extremely small cages. It was heartening to meet the dedicated sanctuary staff and a bunch of wonderful volunteers who cared for the bears. The team provides a safe and natural environment for these bears to live in peace. Bears lovers, this can be your thing. 🙂
#4 Squeeze Some Buffalo Milk
Yes, it’s buffalo, not cow! This is not a typo error. I met the CEO of Laos Buffalo Dairy, Ms Susie Martin, who shared her inspiring story of how she set up the buffalo dairy industry in Laos. It started with a mid-life crisis situation in Singapore, where Susie wanted to pursue more meaningful projects instead of chasing after the material desires. An idea struck Susie on a family vacation trip to Laos, where she saw that this country has so many buffaloes, but no one seems to know what to do with it, e.g. producing milk, cheese and yogurt. Buffalo milk yogurt was a delicacy she learnt from her earlier trip to Sri Lanka. With a grit and determination, Susie took a leap of faith and set up a buffalo dairy farm industry in Luang Prabang, which is now a huge success in Laos. Creating employment opportunities and building an industry to help educate the locals to leverage on this market potential. 🙂
I’ve seen African Cape buffalos in Africa before, but this time round, I got the chance to go up close and personal with the Asian Water Buffalos. I was told that buffalo milk is creamier and has a thicker texture compared to cow milk. There are actually many health benefits from drinking buffalo milk as a substitute for cow milk as it has higher calcium, lower cholesterol and has less lactose (good for people who are lactose intolerant).
#5 Try The Ice Cream & Cheese Made From Buffalo Milk
Today, the farm produce not just milk, but also cheese, cheese cakes and ice creams, all made from buffalo milk. Creating more job opportunities and benefiting the locals. Be sure you check it out, especially the ice cream! (Tip: GET THAT COFFEE FLAVOUR!) Yummm 🙂
#6 Experience The Alms Giving Ceremony
For the early risers, this can be a cool and inspiring thing to do in Luang Prabang. The alms giving ceremony dated back to the 14th century, is a long stand tradition in Laos Buddhist culture. The locals wake up very early in the morning to prepare the food for the monks and waited quietly and patiently by the roadside for the monks to collect alms. This daily peaceful, spiritual and traditional ceremony is a wonderful experience to observe or to participate, but please respect the monks and the culture.
#7 Received Blessings From The Baci Ceremony
Baci ceremony has been practice for hundreds of years in Laos. This ceremony involves the tying of white cotton strings around a person’s wrists for blessings and well wishes. The locals believe human have spirits to protect 32 organs. A person will fall ill if any one of the spirits wander outside the body. Tying the white strings symbolise tying the 32 spirits to the body and to bring harmony, health and prosperity!
Right before the end of the Baci, people reach forward to touch the center of the Baci called the “Pha Khuan”. This is your cue to reach forward too. If you can’t reach the Pha Khuan, gently put your hand on the person in front of you. Laos people believed this channels the luck through everyone. Something like a Jedi transmitting power through everyone! Be sure to participate in this unique and interesting ceremony before dinner.
#8 Visit The Talented Weaver
Renowned for its tradition of weaving in Laos, Luang Prabang has become a hub for textiles. This tradition and skill was passed down though generations. Feast your eyes on the different and interesting handcrafted weaves and colours of Laos silk.
It was heart warming to see the younger generation learning diligently from the experienced weavers, who are usually their mothers or aunts. This transfer of skills ensure a booming local silk industry and ensures that this ancient art will not be lost with times.
#9 Chillax In The Pullman Infinity Pool
You may be a fan of Singapore Marina Bay Sands Hotel’s infinity pool, but the infinity pool in Pullman Luang Prabang offers a totally different sensations. Overlooking lush greenery with a backdrop of a beautiful mountain view. Imagine chilling out amongst paddy fields and a meandering streams in the rustic countryside, honestly, this is so awesome!
#10 Check Out The Library In Sofitel Luang Prabang
I think a perfect vacation is when you have time to chillax in a large private book collection library, where you can snuggle up with a glass of wine and sit beside a fireplace with your favourite book. The Lounge in Sofitel Luang Prabang is a small cosy hotel library for guests. It also doubles up as a restaurant and bar. Food, wine and a book is a beautiful combination. Sadly today, a lot of us rarely visit a library. Most of us are conveniently relying on Dr Google to answer most of our queries. Even though the internet has taken over the way people search for information and learning. It still feels good to visit the library once in a while to refresh our mind.
#11 Bargain In The Night Market
After a sumptuous dinner, a visit to the night market to do some shopping, or continue to fill your tummy with the local snacks. What makes Luang Prabang night market pleasant to visit is that they have good cleanliness and not so crowded as compared to other Asian night markets.
Situated along the main and side streets, the bustling night market in Luang Prabang has with lots of good food, clothing, arts and craft items on sale. Strolling down the night market is pleasantly calm, as you browse through the stalls, the stall owners were all very friendly and not pushy at all.
#12 Survived The Day Market
This was a dilemma to me, after a peaceful alms giving morning, your morning is incomplete without a visit to the Luang Prabang day market.
That being said, it was a horrendous experience for me when I visited the day market. Instead of continuing a peaceful morning after the alms giving, I thought that I was watching a gory film like The Saw, with blood, dead carcasses and poor creatures all over the market. You get to see everything from fresh fish to dead fish, eel fish struggling to escape, live frog with broken legs next to their dead counterparts, to barbecued rats, fried bats, grilled squirrels, baby owls struggling in captivity in an extremely small cage. This place is the definition of animal cruelty! As a vegetarian, I was honestly struggling to complete this visit. 🙁
Content Warning: Viewers Discretion Is Advised! As you view this part of the article, I advise that you exercise some discretion!
On the flip side, there were colourful vegetables and fruits in the market as well, from mango sticky rice, to honeycombs, fried bananas, fritters, coconut pancakes, deep-fried mug beans, and paper rolls. There are plentiful of vegetarian options in the market too. 🙂
#13 Grab A Coffee
Located on the busy street next to Mekong River, Saffron Coffee Luang Prabang offers delicious coffee to provide your daily boost! There are tables inside the shop and facing the road overlooking the Mekong River. You can sip your coffee and watch the world and river goes by. There’s air conditioned at second level and what impressed me most was their social responsibility effort of giving back to the Laotian coffee farmers.
#14 Cross A Bamboo Bridge
The bamboo bridges across the Mekong in Luang Prabang are washed away annually when the river floods. Within a week, the Laos people will rebuild the bridge when the flood subsides. Nothing very special, but if you are a photographer or instagrammer, this spot is definitely rewarding! 🙂
#15 Smell The Mekong River
The Mekong River is the lifeline of Laos and travelling down this river will give you a better understanding of how the locals live. Fun Fact: The Mekong River is the seventh longest river in Asia!
The Mekong River at Luang Prabang is gorgeously decorated with huge mountains as the backdrops, lush green vegetation filled with either palm trees, banana trees or corns. To complete the experience, do take a sunset cruise or slow boat cruise to truly enjoy the Mekong River.
#16 Try The Laotian Snacks & Food (Vegetarian Recommendations)
Laos is vegetarian friendly country! From sticky rice with traditional Laotian sauce made of tomatoes, eggplants, peanuts, and other vegetables to Khanom Krok (Laotian Coconut Cakes), Yaw Khao (Laos Spring Roll, which was influenced by the Vietnamese paper roll with fresh vegetables and mushrooms), Thai curries and Western food. Perhaps, this is an advantage of being a landlocked country surrounded by the diverse “neighbours” which influence some of their culinary cuisine.
#17 Play With The Silk Worms
As a continuation from the responsible weaver tour, do not miss the chance to educate yourself on the silk worms. The silk worm is actually the larvae, or caterpillar stage, in the life cycle of the silkworm moth. The silk worms life stage include larvae to pupa to a creamy white moth patterned in brown. Silk worms eat mulberry leaves and will spin cocoons made of silk threads. Fun Fact: It takes approximately 2000 cocoons to make one silk dress!
#18 Catch Scoot’s Promo For Direct Flights To Luang Prabang, Laos
Interested to visit Luang Prabang now? Keep a look out for Scoot’s promotion! Scoot has three weekly flights from Singapore to Luang Prabang & Vientiane and currently is the only airline offering direct flight services from Singapore to Laos. Singaporeans rejoice! Dear Scoot, please scoot us to more places please! haha
Check out Scoot’s website: https://www.flyscoot.com/en
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm, and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru