During my visit to Southeast Asia, we hopped on a boat and then an overnight bus to Luang Prabang, Laos. Laos, former French colony that gained independence in the early 1950’s, is sandwiched between Thailand, Vietnam and China. We only spent several days in this surprising city, but we spent it well. We spoiled ourselves by eating as many crepes as we could handle, as well as sampling baguette sandwiches, perusing the night Hmong-craft market, drinking beers on the Mekong and exploring the streets.. Although I would imagine France is slightly less tropical (I’ve only been to the northern corner of France), it felt like a whole different world from our travels in Thailand.
In addition to the French influence, the strong Buddhist background was also in evidence, seen in the many wats (Buddhist temples) and orange-clad monks walking the streets. Luang Prabang is itself a UNESCO Heritage site: as a history nerd, I’m always excited to visit one of these. Although Laos is a very poor country–our bus even stopped in a town that only had one TV, which blew my mind–it was an unforgettable, and almost skipped, stop on our tour of Southeast Asia. If you go, try to stay right on the Mekong–I won’t recommend our terrible hostel, but it had a great view–eat your fill of crepes, and try a Laos cooking class!