Mekong River at Sunset
Laos

Laos

Laos is like Thailand without the bustle. The food is less spicy, but has greater depth of flavor. The temples are smaller and less grandiose, but are decorated beautifully and with great care. In Bangkok, the traffic along the Chao Phraya river never stops; in Luang Prabang, it seems that every vessel on the mighty Mekong pauses to appreciate the sunset.

We spent three days in Luang Prabang, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its “well-preserved architectural, religious, and cultural heritage”. Despite being a tourist mecca, it does not feel ‘touristy’. In the old town, vendors sell Laotian textiles and craft. Buddhist monks go door-to-door at sunrise collecting alms. And the street food is truly amazing. Our advice: if you want to go to Thailand, head to Laos.

The roof of the Wat Xieng Thong temple in Luang Phrabang is ornamented with golden dragon heads
The roof of the Wat Xieng Thong temple in Luang Phrabang is ornamented with golden dragon heads
Sean Pont
Class had just let out at this elementary school, and there was a fleet of motor scooters waiting just outside the gate.
Class had just let out at this elementary school, and there was a fleet of motor scooters waiting just outside the gate.
Sean Pont
Smoothies, some assembly required
Smoothies, some assembly required
Sean Pont
The street food scene is out of control. Anything you want on a stick, you've got it.
The street food scene is out of control. Anything you want on a stick, you've got it.
Sean Pont
YiOu runs up the steps of Phousi Hill, atop which sits the golden stupa of That Chomsi.
YiOu runs up the steps of Phousi Hill, atop which sits the golden stupa of That Chomsi.
Sean Pont | Art Direction by YiOu Wang
A riverboat cruise down the Mekong.
A riverboat cruise down the Mekong.
Sean Pont
A fisherman along the bank of the Mekong river manipulates fishing line.
A fisherman along the bank of the Mekong river manipulates fishing line.
Sean Pont
The night market of Luang Prabang is exciting without being frantic. Whereas the night markets in Thailand all had the same Chinese-made crap, here the wares were for the most part made locally.
The night market of Luang Prabang is exciting without being frantic. Whereas the night markets in Thailand all had the same Chinese-made crap, here the wares were for the most part made locally.
Sean Pont
Tad Thong Waterfall is just a few miles south of the city. The gentle sweep of the water reminds me of a duck-billed platypus. The trails around the waterfall made us feel like Lara Croft. We were alone in the jungle on an often steep stone trail, parts of which had washed away leaving 6-8 foot gaps spanned by rotting pieces of wood.
Tad Thong Waterfall is just a few miles south of the city. The gentle sweep of the water reminds me of a duck-billed platypus. The trails around the waterfall made us feel like Lara Croft. We were alone in the jungle on an often steep stone trail, parts of which had washed away leaving 6-8 foot gaps spanned by rotting pieces of wood.