"Na Doi (Na same pronunciation in Thai = Uncle) called me last month that he planning group trip to Laos as during 9-12 May because Laos announced to open country on that day. And he shared me the itinerary of the trip with the highlight of “Hi Speed train from Vientiane to Luang Prabang”.
I recently travelled to Laos around 5 years ago but I visit by flight to Vientiane and get rent a car drove to Luang Prabang and on the way stop by Vang Viang for one night. That trip was good but too hectic and waste time on the road more than enjoy highlights of this country.
Then going by hi speed train is sound interested for me. And as I travel with Na Doi few times already so I’m sure that he will arrange amazing itinerary for sure. Then I immediately confirmed after check my schedule. I paid full amount THB 13,900 few days after confirmed but as Laos just open border while Thailand just changed policy for entering country as well.
So, what I had to do is prepared document, international passport (I registered via Mor Phrom app, free of charge). And I did PCR-Test 72 hours prior to departure flight with the cost around THB 1,500. So, total I paid for this trip before travel is 15,400. With this price I invited my friends Fang, Kero and Anna, Yui. All of them really want to join this trip but unfortunately, they have confirmed with another trip in same period. Then I will be alone for this trip. But I love to know people so it is not a problem.
And later P Kung (P same pronunciation in Thai = older sister) told me that she also joining this trip. I can imagine how this trip will be. Unfortunately, Fang cannot join this time otherwise this trip will be another funny trip.
Meeting time at Suvarnabhumi Airport was 5am. on 9th May as the itinerary is we take Thai Smile flight from Bangkok to Udon Thani and cross border at Nong Khai province by minivan.
There are 17persons for this trip so there was 2 vans. Thai Smile served snack with drinking water but when we landed at Udon Thani Airport as Covid situation.
After that we were in the van and heading to the local restaurant for quick breakfast. And my menu was below.
P Kung came with3 friends and all of us order same thing to save time. Taste of not bad and the prices is reasonable.
After breakfast, we continue to border which took around 40 minutes. The border is “Nong Khai Boundary Custom “We all declared all documents at got stamp.
Actually, the van should transfer us to border on Laos side but as it was the first day that Laos open border and we were first group who can arrived without PCR test up on arrival and no quarantine.
But there are some inconveniences at the border so our van can not send us to Laos side. So, we changed to join public bus from Thailand side cross Mae Khong River to Laos side.
There was only 15 minutes cross the border by the bridge over Mae Khong River then we reach to Laos border and we have to get stamp again.
Since today is first day the border opened so there were not many people at the custom so we spent only around 15 minutes to get stamp.
There were 2 tour guides from tour operator in Laos waiting for us at the border and after we pass the immigration then all luggage up load to another bus. And then our trip began.
The first stop on Laos side was Wat Si Muang which is the one of the important temples in Vientiane. The tour guide suggest to pray and make a wish here and our wish might be come true.
I like the architecture of the temple both inside and outside.
And I like the way Laos people wearing their traditional cloths to temple.
The way they pray in front of the buddha images are very beautiful.
After worship the Buddha image at Wat Si Muang then we continue for lunch.
The restaurant for lunch today name “Pho Zab” means delicious noodle. And yes, their noodle is really delicious. The restaurant is in the owner’s house. They serve Chicken, Pork and beef.
So, I order beef noodle. And we ordered crispy spring roll for share. I like watermelon juice so it was my juice today. The noodle is too much so I cannot finish it but I can say that it is very delicious noodle.
The owner of restaurant was so kind. She mixed special drinks for us and welcome us by herself.
After lunch, we left for visit the highlight of Vientiane “ Pratuxai Monument” . Tour guide took us there and gave us 15 minutes to walk around, listen the history and take photos. I was not excited as I was there 5 years ago and nothing change. But some who came as the first time enjoy taking photo under the sunshine at 2pm.
P Aom really enjoy to be my model.
After that we stop by for worship at Pha That Luang which is one of important Pha That for Laos people.
Ms.Tui is our local guide and she wore beautiful traditional Loas cloths.
We walked around with another guide Mr.Kamlha and listened the history of the temple while P Kung's gang collected nice shots.
After that heading to train station.
We reached to train station at 3.40pm while the train schedule is 4.05 so we had time to refresh and using toilet.
Important thing needed to be aware is all alcohol products either spray or gel not allow to take up on the train even in the suitcase. Then we have to leave them in the bus which will meet us in next day.
The terminal is so big and beautiful, everything new as they just open.
I walked around the beautiful station, and P Kung got nice shot for me.
And I got for herself.
We got the ticket and prepared to get on the train. The train look new and we were scheduled to reach to Luang Prabang in 3 hours.
But because this train is still new so it is not easy to book group ticket. However, Na Doi and his team got 4-5pax per bogie separately but at least some of us sit together.
I got the seat in bogy no.2 and seat number 12F (window seat). There are 2 and three seat. I saw the seat in the middle of bogy have table but not sure if there are any supplement to get that seat but I think for sitting only 3 hours we do not need table.
The seat is good, new and comfortable.
The train left the station on time and run smoothly to next station.
The first station was Vang Viang which was around 2 hours from Vientiane. The temperature was cold down (Vientiane was so hot same as Bangkok). There are lots of mountains and rice fields in Vang Viang. Along the way are green and I really like this scenery.
The way they built railway is same as I experienced in China (no wonder). The train run through the mountains and this is the reason why from Vientiane takes only 3 hours to Luang Prabang.
I sat and enjoy the view along the way. Unfortunately, my seat is on the sunset side so people sitting after my seat prefer to close the curtain than enjoy the view.
There are some villages and farms. The weather there were good and I cannot feel the pollution. Lucky for people living in this area.
We reached to Luang Prabang around 6pm. Luang Prabang station also beautiful.
We were heading by van as the bus is not allow to get in Luang Prabang area. This is the World Heritage site by UNESCO.
We reached to hotel for check in at “Sanctuary Luang Prabang”.
Personally, I like to stay in small boutique hotel like this one when I travel.
7pm we all were ready at lobby and left for dinner.
The first dinner was Thai food with some Laos ingredients. But the taste is very delicious.
The chicken in green curry with egg plants is rich with herb. The cucumber clear soup also delicious.
After dinner, we continued to the local market and then return to hotel.
Morning call was 4.30am as the first activity today was to give alms to the monks and this is one of the highlights of those who visit Luang Prabang. We were ready on time at lobby around 6.30am and just only 15 minutes from hotel to the place.
There were small chairs along the small road in front of the temple. Sticky rice in the basket were set for all of us as well as small scarf for men and women.
This is the moment which we can find from the internet but the difference is the feeling.
Some who never try may be excited but I did it two times so my feeling was just waiting to it again but excited more for good shots.
I like this country because of the architecture, food and culture especially the way Laos people dress up to the temple or give alms to the monks.
P Kung who always happy with all activities and wait for it keep smiling like the sunrise in the clear sky morning.
Na Ood who love to started travel to oversee for few years back also prepared.
P Kung’s gang (P Joice, P Tam and Jazz) also ready.
Thai and Laos have similar culture about Buddhist activities and ceremonies.
It was good moment give alms to the monks and then tour guide took us by walk along that road to the local market.
On the way to the market. Tour guide took us to another temple "Wat Chiang Thong"
I think all the temple in Luang Prabang are old temple with long history but most of all the architecture of each temple are amazing.
Tour guide explain the history of the temple which is interesting. The highlight of the temple is the architecture. The guide took us around the temple and gave good information but I and P Kung’s gang were enjoying take nice shots while listening the tour guide.
The market where they selling local raw ingredients for cooking. Tour guide explained that Laos people prefer to cook and eat at home more than buy from outside.
That’s why this market is big and selling lots of things. We walked through the market and enjoy buying some snack, dessert and almost the end of the market we stopped at the shop where selling the bag, scarf made by fabric.
P Kung got scarf, Jazz got bags, P Tam tried to stop herself buying a tote bag and she success. P Joice did not buy anything. But myself who is hilltribe fabric lover paid for small bag which made from a piece from the Mong Hilltribe traditional cloth. I love it.
We were enjoyed walking in the market and finally there were only me and P Kung. My lovely P Kung offer me to take a nice shot for me with my new crossbody bag. Then I got nice shot, is it ?
Our meeting point was at the famous local coffee shop call “Pracha Niyom” it is just a Laos authentic coffee shop close to the river.
The table and chair cannot compare with big coffee brand or fancy coffee shop and cafe. But always crowded with new and repeating customer during morning.
We got separated table as they have only small tables while we are 19 persons.
I order ice chocolate, actually I did not expect much for the taste as this was my first time to this coffee shop but I was surprised with the taste because it was very delicious. This is the taste of ice chocolate which I and many people drank when we were kids. Not too sweet, not creamy just delicious.
Some order congee, sticky rice etc., but I also want to try breakfast at hotel so I drank only chocolate there.
We returned to hotel for breakfast and they did not disappoint us.
Noodle in clear soup is very delicious.
After breakfast, we left the temple and heading to the pier to get the boat to visit “Ting Cave”.
The boat is very comfortable, clean and run smoothly along the river.
The weather was so good and the scenery was amazing.
We reached to the cave and walked up to the main hall for praying.
I like the view on another side of the river when we look from the cave.
We spent around 30 minutes at the cave and then got on the boat again then return to the pier.
Along the way from the pier to the road we walked pass by the local village where they sell the scarf made from local material.
Almost everyone bought scarf especially P Kung.
I like the local life. Look like they are happy with what they have.
And this is the reason made me bought scarf even I’m not use it often but at least as souvenir for my sister and friends. Because of her smile.
We left there and heading to the restaurant for lunch. Lunch today was similar with North Eastern style in Thailand and everyone really enjoy.
Grilled chicken, papaya salad, soup, deep fried pork. I do not like eating rice or sticky rice so I was really like their grilled chicken and papaya salad.
Taste of the food also similar with Thai so we were enjoyed this meal. After finished lunch I have some idea as P Kung came with another 3 friends so I want to get a special shot like "Beatle" a forever popular band,
But what I got was like this ^_^
By the way, after got on the van and before we fell asleep the tour guide reminded us that we have a soft trekking to most famous waterfall in Luang Prabang “Kuang Si Waterfall”. According to one local legend. Kuang Si falls were formed when a wise old man revealed the water of the Nam Si by digging deep into the earth.
After the waters came to Kuang Si a beautiful golden deer made its home under a big rock that protruded from the falls. The sound of the water falling on this rock created an enchanting echo that drew people to the waterfall from as far away as China.
Tat Kuang Si gets its name from this legend. “Tat” meaning waterfall, “Kuang” meaning deer and “Si” meaning dig.
You won’t see the big rock though as it fell away in December 2001 after a small earthquake.
This place is worth to come.
The waterfall is so beautiful. This is not the first time for me to this water fall. I was there 5 years ago. But I can say that they keep all are same just trees glow up, seasonal flowers are blooming.
Unfortunately, this time we cannot go up to the top of the waterfall like I did last time. So, group cannot see what I saw from last time. Then I put one picture from last time here.
Everyone enjoyed the time at waterfall, supermodels were happy to be in the frame, swimmer happy to swim in the natural pool while some were enjoyed with beautiful green scenery.
We spent the time there around 1.30hrs and then came back to the meeting point and prepared for next stop.
There was around 1 hour from waterfall to city side.
Some of us decided to continue to walk up to the top of the "Phousi hill" which is a 100 m. high hill in the centre of the old town of Luang Prabang. It lies in the heart of the old town peninsula and is bordered on one side by the Mekong River and on the other side by the Nam Khan River. The hill is a local religious site, and houses serval Buddhist shrines.
Meanwhile, some of us preferred to go back to relax and refresh at hotel and also prepare for dinner.
I like the room at this hotel, the size of the room is not big but also not too small for staying 2 persons.
And when we return to the room after long day it made us feel relax. The room are around the small pond in the middle and garden so the atmosphere is so peaceful.
7pm we all were ready for dinner. Our dinner today was traditional food with classical dance show by the children.
The restaurant is not far from hotel. Everything were prepared when we arrived.
And as we were the first group after Covid so the restaurant arranged welcome ceremony “Baci su kwan which is an important ceremony practiced in Lao culture, Sipsong Panna and Northern and Isan Thai culture. They decorated the silver tray with flowers, banana leaves, bamboo poles with white cotton threads for worship. This ceremony used to celebrate important events and occasions like births and marriages and also entering the monkhood, departing, returning, beginning and new year, and welcoming. The ritual of the baci involves tying strings around a person’s wrist to preserve good luck, and has become a national custom. Tour guide told us that normally they keep those strings at least 3 days to keep all luck with them.
After that, time for enjoy dinner. The food looks similar like Thai food in in the north but difference ingredients and taste. However, all food is quite spicy and it too spicy for Jazz the youngest sister of P Kung’s gang. So, I ordered plain omelet for her (actually, I prefer spicy food but I think Jazz should have problem with spicy so I pretend that I really like omelet and keep order every meal but it was for her).
We were enjoying dinner and beautiful classical dance by their children. As we got some nice shots with them after the show. And this is one of the highlight, a pure shot from ceremony. One bottom up can burn your throat but taste is not bad.
After dinner, return to hotel because we have to pack luggage to move to Vang Viang next morning. But for me my laptop and works were there and waiting for me.
I woke up early as always. As I saw a nice café not far from hotel so I finished all packing and checked out around 7am and left luggage at lobby then walked out to see around area. I got ice chocolate from that café. There was rained last night so the weather is nice and everywhere looks fresh.
Here you can have a good deep breath everywhere. The city is old but not dirty, people keep smiling to each other. I saw Mr.Mini who is our tour guide was sitting at another café opposite to our hotel then I joined him.
This café is “Dao” the same name with famous coffee from Laos. I got ice green tea so I left my ice chocolate as it quite too sweet for me.
I and Mini spent time chatting and enjoyed our drink at Dao café around 30 minutes. It’s always good to meet people and get new friends. People born and grow in difference family so we are from difference family culture as well. That’s why we have difference attitude but if you turn your mind to be a sponge which absorb water of other’s attitude then you will get difference vision, idea, experiences etc.,
Around 8.30 we moved to have breakfast at hotel. I like noodle “Pho” at this hotel so much so my breakfast was only “Pho” and today I follow idea of Mini to put upside down egg on Pho. And I like it. However food is one side and another side is atmosphere around you when you good friends around you.
After breakfast we all got on the van and heading to the first stop which is one of a must visit place. The "Luang Prabang National Museum". The place was telling tourist about the history of Luang Prabang.
And I realized how to get nice "Beatle" shot. Just move P Kung to the last...^_^
I always love to see local people wearing their traditional cloths like this two ladies.
Tour guide explain for this history of this museum and everyone look concentrated and listen to the guide.
After 10 minutes, some quietly step out and find the place to sit. Not because of we boring about history but our leg need some rest.
After that, they took us inside the museum, they are not allowed to take photo inside and also not allow any carry bag or backpack. So, we brought only mobile.
Before we left museum. Three models got good shot from outside.
After museum we continue to another important temple “Wat Visounratch”.
There was long history about this temple but we spent short time there as it was quite hot and there are some senior ladies prefer to stay inside air-con then we moved to one of famous coffee shop “Joma” the place where lots tourist visit for coffee, bakery and check in with some nice shots.
And yes, everyone got nice shots.
I order ice peppermint tea as I like this menu and it is good for hot afternoon.
After our temperature was cool down then we moved to the restaurant for lunch.
And the last lunch today in Luang Prabang was at “Khmu Restaurant” As there was steak style so we ordered in advance.
My one is always beef for steak.
And this is my menu.
The beef is good as you can see juicy meat and the unique way to serve each dish made us excited.
All steak served with small portion of salad with their signature salad dressing. But I’m not peanut lover so I left that salad on table.
Beside of the food they also have small corner for our super models as well.
After lunch we all get on the van and moved to train station Vang Viang.
The first place in Vang Viang which we visit was “Tham Jang” or “Jang Cave” a cave on the high mountain with more than 300 steps.
Some who never came to Vang Viang climbed up to the cave while some enjoy sitting and relax. I was with a second group because I came here 5 years ago and I do not think cave will change much.
Fang who is another supermodel of this trip also with us and she was really enjoy with this activity.
We left the cave and continue to hotel for check in. The hotel name is “Thavisouk Island” .
We checked in and left luggage in the room and then start the boat trip along Song river.
The small long tail boat for 2 person and driver. We all were excited.
Especially, my big sister P Kung.
The boat took us along the calm river, the cool wind blows made us fell relax and enjoy he view.
We saw local people enjoy their life. It is look easy life but we can see happiness.
Those children enjoy swimming on the river. These scenes reminded our childhood time.
I like this tour so much, to lay down on the long tail boat on the clear and clean river with green view along the river. And we saw some hot air balloon there.
The sky today was so beautiful.
The trip finished then we return to hotel for refresh and prepared for dinner again. The restaurant is around 15 minutes away from hotel and we changed from bus to be local truck which more convenience.
The food look difference but the taste is very good.
After dinner, some continue walking around while some preferred to return to hotel and take a rest. And again, I was with a second group with the same reason. But I was regret to do that because wifi at hotel was not good so I cannot work. Then I slept early.
I woke up at 5.30am as I was expecting to see sunrise as the guide suggest to see this beautiful moment. Unfortunately, there was rained last night then the sky was closed and full with clouds so I can not see the sunrise.
However, I got another nice shot because there was a big hot air balloon float up from the middle of green forest.
I tried again to turn on my laptop and connect wifi but failed so I give up.
I decided to take shower and prepare for check out as today we have short time to visit one of highlights of Vang Viang “Blue Lagoon” the place where we can see form google with lots of people climb up on the tree and jump down to clear blue water in the pond which around 5-6 meters depth.
New who fear of high but he wants to try. And he finally success.
They were enjoyed swimming and jumping there an we spent around 30 minutes there then return to hotel for check out.
Seem that Pharaoh seem like want to extend stay.
After that we heading to Vientiane to visit another one important temple in this province “Wat Sisaket Museum” This is the old temple which now turned to be museum. Tour guide told us that there are more than 10,000 Buddha image in this temple.
And I agreed, as we can see they put many Buddha image on the wall around the temple.
This temple is not allow to take picture inside so we just visit for worship.
It was lunch time and it was last lunch in Vientiane also last meal from this trip. The restaurant is “Hang Out” and the food is delicious especially deep-fried fish with sweet and sour topping.
P Kung can guarantee how much delicious the food.
P Joice completed her lunch with coffee.
It was already 4 days we were together and we came back to the starting point at the border. Say good bye to the local guides “Tukta, Tui and Kam Lha” with happiness full in our pocket.
As always say that I got many new friends from this trip. I love travel either with family or group of friends but in my opinion traveling with join group tour also good.
I got many new friends from this trip.
P Aom who told me many times during the trip that she would like join trip if I have plan to visit Sangkhlaburi in Kanchanaburi (Thailand)
Fang, a Chinese who speak Thai very well and love to be in the frame like super model.
P Ood who is extreme lover, tried all possible activities.
P Tam, from P Kung’s gang who turned herself to be Christmas tree on the last day of trip.
Jazz, who enjoy whatever P Kung say yes.
P Joice, who changed the way to stand in front of the camera which made her leg look longer.
Oa, who was on the same boat with me on the river
Pete, who jumped at the Blue Lagoon with very nice shorts of slow motion and video.
Pharaoh, who is the youngest man in this trip and always be like a small kid in a big family during trip
Lisa, who always excited with every place we visit.
Mini, a super tour guide who was our “handy man” everyone call Mini, Mini come whatever services we need he was always there.
There gentlemen from the south of Thailand who always created a funny topic and made the group laughing.
After the trip, I found that there were around 80% of the places in this trip which I was visit already as I like Luang Prabang and Vang Viang so much. So, I asked myself why not even a few minutes feel boring with this trip.
And I found out that the reason is, all of them.
Just hope to meet you guys and join trip again some day.