Luang Prabang Favorite Tips by Rodan44
Luang Prabang Favorites: 56 reviews and 62 photos
Lao Sausage hanging out to dry
Favorite thing: There are two types of cuisine that dominate in Luang Prabang (and Laos in general), Lao and French. The former obviously being the traditional cuisine of the Lao people, and the latter a remnant from the days of colonial French Indochina.
Authentic Lao cuisine is similar to the Issan cuisine found in the bordering regions of northeast Thailand. The staple of Lao cuisine is khao niaw (sticky rice), which is a glutinous rice that is typically served in small woven baskets with every meal. It is eaten with your hands by rolling some rice into a small ball and dipping into any accompanying dishes. Next to khao niaw, the other essential ingredient in Lao cuisine is pa daek, a pungent fermented fish sauce that is used to flavor and salt most dishes. One of the most common Lao dishes you will find is Laap, which is a combination of chopped meat (chicken, duck, fish, pork, beef) with onions, chillies, fresh herbs, and spices. The Lao prefer laap seua, where the meat is chopped and served raw, but tourists will be served the version with cooked meat (for obvious reasons). In fact, much traditional Lao food is served raw.
As for French cuisine in Laos, Luang Prabang in particular has many fine French restaurants serving haute cuisine, and there are also several upscale places that serve excellent French/Asian fusion cuisine. In addition, several French cafes can be found in the city, serving cafe and patisserie. Invariably, such restaurants cater solely to tourists and expats, as the average Lao could never afford such luxurious dining. Still, even local Lao cuisine has been noticably influenced by the French, as evident by the availability of French-style baguettes, pate, and sausages in the local markets and street hawkers.
Luang Prabang Airport
Favorite thing: When traveling to Luang Prabang, it is possible for foreign tourists to obtain a Laos visa on arrival at the airport. You will need a valid passport with at least 6 months validity, two passport size photos, and $30US or the equivalent in Thai Baht. Keep in mind that tourist visas on arrival are valid for only 15 days, so if you plan to stay longer you may want to obtain a visa at a Lao embassy, which is valid for 30 days. According to Laos' tourism website "The Department of Immigration in Vientiane will only extend tourist visas for one day. It is sometimes possible to get an extension for an additional 15 days by submitting an application through a tour agency. Foreigners who overstay in Laos risk arrest, and they will be fined $5 for each day upon departure."
Fondest memory: http://www.visit-laos.com/before/visas.htm
Enjoying Beer Lao with Lao Cuisine
Favorite thing: Like everywhere else in Southeast Asia, Laos is hot and humid. A long day of sightseeing can really drain you quickly. My recommendation is to take frequent breaks and cool off with a refreshing Beer Lao. It is also perfect for washing down spicy Lao food. This is the national beer of Laos and is produced by the Lao Brewery Co. Ltd. which also produces the most popular brand of drinking water. Beer Lao is available in small or large bottles or in cans. If you arrive by the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, you will see the brewery on the way to Vientiane, and it is surprisingly large and modern.
Fondest memory: Website: http://www.beerlao.laopdr.com/Product.htm
She doesn't take American Express
Favorite thing: When in Luang Prabang, or anywhere else in Laos for that matter, be sure to bring plenty of cash because credit cards are still not widely accepted and there are no ATMs to be found. The official currency of Laos is Kip, but the preferred currencies are US Dollars or Thai Baht, both of which will be accepted by anyone anywhere, although you will often get your change in Kip. Be sure to spend all your Kip in Laos, as you cannot exchange it outside of the country. But don't forget to save enough cash for the immigration exit tax!
There are a few banks and money changers in LP, but they are very picky as to what currencies they will exchange. I imagine that Euros and Aussie dollars may be accepted for exchange to Kip, but I know that Singapore dollars will not be (despite the fact that is is one of the strongest currencies in all of Asia).
View of Luang Prabang from plane
Favorite thing: If you are flying into the Luang Prabang airport, try to get a window seat on the left side of the plane and you will be rewarded with a fantastic view as you fly very low over the city as you come in for a landing. You will very easily be able to see the Mekong river, Mount Phousi, and many glittering temples. Fantastic!
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