Things to do in Laos Travel Guide, Top Attractions and Lao Cuisine

We have made it to Luang Prabang and thiscity has quickly become one of my favorites here in Southeast Asia.

This is the cultural hub of Laos and we'regoing to show you a few of the things you can do around town.

When you're visiting Luang Prabang, it isreally easy to stick to the city center.

There is so much to do and see there but ifyou have the time come outside and explore the outskirts of the city.

Come and check out the more rural sections.

Right now we're going across a bamboo bridgeand we're going to see what is on the other side.

Lead the way.

Because this is a very small city it is reallyeasy to find yourself in the countryside.

That's exactly what we've been doing justwandering down rural areas and we even found a dog to join us for the walk.

Now we are up bright and early for a bikingtour around the city.

We picked up these bikes for 20, 000 Kip, whichis $2.

50 USD and we have them for the day, so we're going to be cycling around.

Let's see what we find.

When comparing Luang Prabang to other citiesin Southeast Asia there are some major advantages.

One of them being that there is hardly anytraffic here.

It's a wonderful opportunity to take out yourbicycle and just explore.

You can go down the main roads, you can godown the side streets and you're not going to have to deal with cars and other bicyclesor even pedestrians.

Luang Prabang is very pedestrian friendly.

In fact, there are so many different littleback-alleys and lanes to explore that it is just a great idea to wander about withoutany sense of direction.

There are some fantastic views in this cityso one of our recommendations is to enjoy a meal by the river, which is what we're doingtonight.

Another thing you'll want to do when you'rein Luang Prabang is to visit all of the temples around the city.

This morning we're visiting Wat Xieng Thongand it is one of the main temples in Luang Prabang.

It is also known as the Golden City Templeand it really has some impressive glass mosaics.

You'll want to wander around and take somephotos.

It is 20, 000 Kip to enter which is $2.

50 USDand like most places it is good to come early because it starts to get busy during the middleof the day.

Now it is time for us to get a little bitof exercise.

We're going to climb up 328 steps up MountPhou si which is more like a hill for the best views of Luang Prabang.

Admission to reach the top of this mountainis 20, 000 Kip which is again is $2.

50 USD.

It is kind of cool going up because you goup one way and then you come down the other side of the mountain so you get to see differentviews along the way.

How could we have a list of things to do ina city without focusing on the local cuisine.

We're here at our favorite restaurant Tamarind.

We've been here so often it's literally ourhome away from home and we're going to show you a few of our favorite dishes.

This is the dipping platter.

This over here is a coriander pickle.

Next we have an eggplant dip.

A tomato dip.

We have paste made from buffalo skin.

We have some seaweed chips and then some vegetablesthat we can use with the sauce.

Let's dig in.

That all goes together, of course, with oursticky rice.

Sam is going to demonstrate.

This is how you eat.

You just kind of put together a little balllike that and then you can pick a different dip.

I'll try the buffalo sauce here.

You put it together just like that and youpop it in your mouth.

Delicious! This is the second plate we've ordered.

Again, here we have a vegetable pickle.

This is a pork salad that also has bananaflowers.

We have a pork sausage and here is some buffalojerky – Sam's favorite.

Oh yeah! Over here we have some little lettuce rollsthat are stuffed with different dips and different sauces.

We'll be trying those.

We've ordered so much food we almost forgotabout this next dish.

It is time for me to do the honors.

I'm going to unveil our steamed fish, whichcomes wrapped in banana leaf.

It is called Mok Pa.

Let's see what is in here.

It is like opening a present.

I know.

It is like Christmas on a plate.

Oh, wow! There it is.

You can see the steam coming off of it.

That is going to be good.

And when the sun goes down it is time to goshopping.

We're at the tourist night market and we'repicking up souvenirs.

If there is one thing that Luang Prabang is known foris for its Almsgiving which happens every morning at six AM.

This is where monks collect alms of rice fromkneeling locals and tourists.

Tips on how not to be a total wanker at theceremony.

First, don't use your flash and don't blindthe monks.

Secondly, don't chase them down.

You see people doing both of these thingsand it is infuriating.

If you love to eat like we do then you can'tleave Luang Prabang without taking a cooking class.

Today we're at the Phou si market and we'repicking up ingredients before we start preparing our food.

Not much sugar in Lao cooking like in Thaifood.

When you taste Thai food you taste milky andcreamy and sweet things because they add lots of coconut milk and lots of sugar.

That is why their food tastes like that.

Laos food is different.

Lao food tastes lots of herbs and lots oftexture.

This is Lao food.

I'd like to point out that Sam and I are makingthe exact same dish.

This is his sauce and this is mine.

What are you missing? Just about everything.

Here we have our buffalo salad.

We stir friend some buffalo meat and we alsoadded beansprouts and there is banana flowers.

We have string beans, hot chilies and mintleaves.

We're going to be rolling this up in lettuceleaves.

It is kind of like a little fresh roll.

Today we're visiting Vientiane – the capitalof Laos – and unlike other cities in Southeast Asia, which are the capitals of other bignations like Bangkok in Thailand, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia or Hanoi or Saigon in Vietnamthis is a very small and quaint capital city.

This city gets a little bit of a bum rap, which I don't think is entirely justified.

There are not a lot of attractions here persay but it is the kind of place where you can come and just out and relax.

There is really good food and it is cheap.

It is a good hub to get to different placesin the country.

You can get to Luang Prabang in the northor you can head south to Savannakhet or 4000 islands.

This afternoon we wanted to visit Wat Si Saketbut unfortunately we left it a bit too late.

The temple has already closed, so we can'tactually go inside but we're going to give you a little tour of the surroundings.

Get here before four PM people! This is the place I was most excited to visit.

We made it to the Triumphal Arch and we aregoing to be climbing all the way up.

It is only a couple stories high.

Why the sad face? We seem to be a roll here because we justgot here and apparently it is closed.

It closed at four o'clock just like the templeclosed at four o'clock and we missed it because we wanted to eat Indian food.

We put Indian food before sightseeing.

Well, actually you did.

Oh, be quiet! We had three major things planned.

So far two of those have become absolute failures.

Let's see if we can make it to the Mekongriver before we miss sunset.

Normally when we travel to a destination welike to spend six to seven days basically close to a week because we do have onlinework and jobs.

But Vientiane was unfortunately just a stopoverso we only really had one day to go out and explore.

This is a bit of an unusual capital in thesense that it is very small and it doesn't necessarily offer a lot of attractions forvisitors.

However, I really enjoyed being able to spenda few days here and just relax and enjoy the surroundings because it has a very peacefulfeel.

The journey to Laos is actually a three daytrip.

Day one involves driving from Chiang Mai toChiang Khong, which is at the border between Laos and Thailand.

On day two we finally get on the boat andtravel from Chiang Khong across the border and arrive at Pak Beng.

The last day (the third day) is nine hourson a boat all the way from Pak Beng to Luang Prabang.

We're going to tell you all about our journey- the pros, the cons, the things that were great and what wasn't so great.

First, this is the actual trip.

Overall conclusions about this trip – we'ddefinitely recommend taking the slow boat from Thailand to Laos; however, doing thethree day tour is definitely something we'd reconsider.

Perhaps a lot of our negatives come from thefact that we did a budget tour and we took the option that is only 2400 Baht.

Some of the things we didn't like so muchis that we were always leaving behind schedule and sometimes we'd be waiting around for anhour before anything happened.

Also, when it came to accommodations the hotelsweren't amazing.

Our first night was spent at a former jailand it kind of felt a bit spartan.

There was no hot water so we couldn't shower.

In terms of food, I would call it prison food.

It was boiled cabbage and just overcookedrice.

Those were some of the cons.

I think you're being a little bit too kindwith your description of the hotel.

That was literally the hardest bed I've everslept on.

I would have been more comfortable on a rock.

If I had to do this trip over again I woulddefinitely do it independently.

You can take a bus from Chiang Mai (or otherNorthern Thai cities) all the way to the border.

You can cross it yourself and find your ownaccommodations.

You can find something that is a little bitbetter and more suitable than what we stayed at.

Also, you can buy your own boat tickets aswell and by showing up early at the pier and purchasing it yourself ensures you get a goodseat.

That is the key to enjoying your experiencegoing down the Mekong.

A few tips to make the trip a bit more pleasantwould be to show up early.

You want to be the first person on the boatso you can choose the best seats.

You don't want to be near the front becausethe views aren't that great and you're kind of sitting sideways.

You don't want to be near the back becausethe engine is rambling and it is incredibly loud.

You want to choose a seat in the middle.

Also, you'll want to bring a cushion or apillow just in case you end up sitting on the wooden seats.

Those are not very comfortable and you'llalso want to stock up on lots of food and bring sandwiches, pastries and whatever itis you'll want to eat because it is a long trip and on the boat they just have chipsand tea and cups of noodles.

For lunch today we are eating at one of ourfavorite restaurants in Luang Prabang – it's called Tamarind.

It focuses on Lao food, so we're going tobe showing you some traditional dishes.

This over here is called Nam Kham and it isa Tamarind cooler and you get a nice little bamboo straw and it is a really sweet andsour drink.

It is refreshing but a little tart.

I really like it.

It's so good! Next up we have our dipping platter.

This over here is coriander pickle, next wehave an eggplant dip and tomato dip.

We have a paste made from buffalo skin, wehave some seaweed chips and then some vegetables that we can eat with the sauce.

Let's dig in.

That all goes together of course with oursticky rice.

Sam is going to demonstrate for us.

This is how you eat it.

You just kind of put together a little balllike that and then you can pick a different dip.

I'll try the buffalo sauce here.

You put it together just like that and youpop it in your mouth.

Delicious! Is it a bit spicy? Oh yeah! This one is really spicy.

Finger food! Finger food! That is a huge ball.

Little ball.

That is not little.

Okay, I will go with the aubergine.

She has got her happy face on.

It is so good.

It is not just aubergine.

They've added spices – there is coriander, onions – there is just an explosion of flavors.

This is the second plate we've ordered.

Again, here we have a vegetable pickle, thisis a pork salad that also has banana flowers, we have a pork sausage and here is some buffalojerky – Sam's favorite.

Oh, yeah! Over here we have some little lettuce rollsthat are stuffed with different dips, different sauces, so we'll be trying those.

Buffalo jerky time! I've broken off a little piece of this buffalojerky and this is my favorite.

Chewy, right? Yeah, it is very chewy like any kind of jerkybut this is probably the sweetest jerky I've ever had.

I can't remember ever tasting anything quitethis sweet in jerky form.

You have this lettuce leafy roll over here.

I taste lemongrass and something sweet likea yam almost but I'm really not sure what it is.

It could be some local thing.

We've ordered so much food we almost forgotabout this next dish.

It is time for me to do the honors.

I'm going to unveil our steamed fish, whichcomes wrapped in a banana leaf.

It is called Mok Pa.

Let's see what is in here.

It's like opening a present.

I know, it's like Christmas on a plate.

Oh, Wow! There it is.

You can see the steam coming off of it.

It is going to be good.

It comes with a side of vegetables, so let'snot forget about those.

Time for a taste test.

First bite! Wow! This is cooked in a dill and basil sauce.

It just melts in your mouth.

It is so soft and so flavorful.

It is delicious! Now for dessert we are having something thatis called Khao Gam.

It is purple sticky rice that has been cookedin coconut milk and it also has banana and sesame seeds on top.

Down here! It looks amazing! If that weren't enough, we get a little shotof Tamarind sauce which we can pour over top.

I'm going to try it the natural way withoutthe tamarind sauce first.

It is so fragrant.

Nice and sweet? Very sweet.

You can definitely taste the coconut and itis a nice sticky rice with a bit of a nutty texture.

I like it.

Let's try this with some tamarind sauce anda big chunk of banana.

Oh my, it is so good.

The tamarind gives it a kick and a bit ofspice.

It is still really sweet.

That splendid feast came to just over $18USD, 151, 000 Kip which we think was excellent value.

It is a bit of a gourmet type of restaurant.

It is right by the river.

You've got awesome views from here.

Here we are visiting a market again and thatcan only mean one thing – we are taking a cooking course yet again.

Today we are going to be learning how to makeLao food and our first stop is Phou Si market.

It is the biggest market in Luang Prabangand apparently it opens up at four in the morning.

For our cooking class today it's an awesomesurprise – we've got this lush garden setting.

It feels like we're just walking into someonesbackyard.

In Laos his wife and daughter cook for thefamily not the husband and son.

This is culture.

We don't put much sugar in Lao cooking likeThai food.

You taste Thai food and it tastes milky andcreamy and sweet because they add lots of coconut milk and lots of sugar.

That is why the food tastes like that.

Lao food is very different tasting like lotsof herbs and lots of texture.

This is Laos food.

This does not mean Thai food is not tasty.

Thai food is very tasty but our food tastesdifferent.

I'm pounding peppers, onions and that is it.

Now time to try your tomato dip.

I made mine really spicy accidentally becauseI thought we were cooking this.

I'm making a little ball with the sticky rice.

Voila! I'll dip it in here.

How is it? It has a real kick to it but it is so good.

It has lemon juice, hot peppers, garlic.

I like it.

I'd like to point out that Sam and I are makingthe exact same dish.

This is his sauce.

This is mine.

What are you missing? Just about everything.

We're making the Mok Pa fish and you are goingto show us how to wrap it.

What a work of art Audrey.

Amazing! Oh, be quiet.

It is going to taste amazing.

We're cooking our buffalo meat right now.

Here we have our buffalo salad.

We stir-fried some buffalo meat and we alsoadded bean sprouts, banana flowers, string beans, hot chilies and mint leaves.

We're going to be rolling this up in lettuceleaves.

It's kind of like a little fresh roll.

.

Leave a Comment