Not So Welcome To Laos

We checked out of our hotel which was called Baan Malai Guesthouse. This was great accommodation in a decent location, the hotel also offered free breakfast which was a lovely incentive.

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We would definitely recommend this hotel – it was a decent price costing us £12.00 per night for the both of us.

The bus wasn’t due to leave until 12:30, we booked our tickets at the Transport Co Ltd. (a couple of doors down from the 7/11 near the bus station). We went for the sleeper bus option as the whole journey took us around 18 hours. We got to the station in good timing and a glamorous double decker turned up, obviously we got our hopes, up only to be incredibly disappointed. A ‘cargo’ bus then arrived – yep, this was obviously our ride. With only a few beds slightly bigger than a single bed which we were supposed to share. Luckily the bus was nearly empty so we had a bed to ourselves. They loaded the bus up with goods to import to Laos and it was almost like we were just an addition to the journey. We couldn’t believe we had to sit on this bus for the next 18 hours surrounded by vegetables and bottles – it was a similar experience to Dagenham market. There was also no toilet. We even specifically asked the lady before booking if there was a toilet on board and she said yes. That’s another thing we’ve learnt, never accept their answer to be a true one.

We drove about 3 hours to the Laos border, went through immigration and Visa control and then we waited about an hour for our bus to drive back around to get us.

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We had arrived in cloudy Laos and still about 15 hours left of the journey. We were ready for some more sleep. The journey was going pretty smoothly until we came to a halt – there was a huge pile-up of trucks, it was then that I thought we had done a toilet break so I asked the driver and he just pointed outside. There were 2 lovely Korean girls on the bus with us and they also needed to go. So there I was, peeing on a highway with a stranger holding a towel up to cover me at 8pm at night – I felt like a top traveller. After about an hour we began to move again and we stopped off for dinner after a bit more driving.

Travel sickness started to kick in but I decided to just overdose on travel sickness tablets. We both surprisingly managed to get to sleep (although I probably just drugged myself) and then we were woken up at 6am by “LUANG PRABANG” being screamed in our ears. We hopped on a tuk-tuk and was taken to our Guesthouse, the dreaded Guesthouse. We clambered through the door waking the poor Receptionist up, we followed him to our room. We were greeted by ants in the bed and all over the floor – not the kind of greeting we desired. We told the man and allowed us to move rooms and it was insect-free! We crawled into bed for a few more hours before then going out to explore the area.

We went out to get some food at a small cafe and then walked around for a while exploring. The cafe we went to was called Indigo Cafe where there is a rooftop bar you can doss around in whilst enjoying a nice refreshing drink. The first day didn’t consist of much, just looking around and booking a day tour for the following day.

That evening we went to a bar called Utopia and it’s apparently the ‘place to go’ and we can completely understand why.

Hosting a chilled-out vibe with fantastic views across the Mekong River – we could have stayed all night. As expected drinks are slightly more expensive but you pay for the views.

We walked back to our guesthouse and got some sleep ready for the tour the next day.

We had booked a tour to go and see the *** waterfall. We went to the booking office and was picked up by the minivan and off we went. We drove about an hour out of town and made it to the waterfall. When walking in there is a bear sanctuary to see which is a great addition.

We continued walking up to the waterfalls and then went for a swim.

It was so unbelievably cold it felt like the Ice Bucket challenge all over again, it was quite literally breath-taking. After swimming around for a while we discovered there were fish in the water that clearly thought your feet were food. We practically got a free fish pedicure.

We had about 3 hours at the waterfall which was more than enough time to enjoy our surroundings. The entrance price for the waterfall was 20,000kip (about £2.00) which included the bear sanctuary. For the whole tour (being taken there & back and also the entrance fee) we paid around £5.50 pp.

The rest of the day we just chilled around and visited the night market that evening

The next day we had a productive day of booking our journey to Vang Vieng, catching up on the blog and also doing some research for future journeys. Despite doing a lot of research that day we said we would walk the Mount Phou Si which is renowned for its fantastic sunset views. We got there at 5 pm and sunset wasn’t until 6:50 pm but we wanted to claim a good spot.

It was truly spectacular and the views were out of this world. About 10 minutes before the sun went down, a massive herd of tourists stood in front of us. It was a shame but we still got to see unreal views.

The evening quickly came around, we went to our regular street food stall (which was super cheap and delicious).

We went back to the not-so-lovely guesthouse and got some sleep. After a lot of debating which company to use to book to travel onto Vang Vieng, we stupidly booked with our hotel. As I get bad travel sickness with the roads out here we wanted a bus rather than a minivan. We even paid a little bit extra for a bus. The Receptionist told us that we would get a bus ticket off the tuk-tuk driver who is going to be taking us to the bus station. We got onto the tuk-tuk and we were taken to a minibus. We were so annoyed because not only did we pay extra, but our Receptionist blatantly lied to us!

Tip: If anyone is travelling to Luang Prabang, AVOID Mano Guesthouse at all costs. As you can see we had nothing but trouble from them!