We rented bikes when we were there and rode out into the country for a few miles. This way we saw some local culture, kids swimming in a pond (they got a kick out of us and our bikes) and some beautiful views. We tried to ride out to the waterfall but it was too far and got picked up by a taxi. The waterfall near the city is worth it though. As is the market and climbing up on the hills for some views and the sunset. It's a beautiful place.
The street we stayed in. There are so many beautiful places to stay, but we found a guest house opposite a temple from which the monks emerged around six each morning, prompted by gongs, and proceeded past our balcony on their route to collect alms from the devoted Buddhist population.
It was an impressive, understated, beautiful experience to watch the silent progress of these young men each morning and to talk to them later in the day, stretching their English, modest, talkative and very approachable. Luang Prabang may be slowly turning into a must visit tourist venue - or even quickly - but that does not make it any less a must visit place. We did not want to leave. The gentle, modest young Lao people, the Mekong, the temples, the excellent food, the slow pace, the friendly welcome, the clean and simple places to eat and stay.
Even if you have never heard of the place - go there and treat it with quiet respect. What a beautiful country. Ride a bus through it. Buy the produce, drink the beer and relax. Also learn a bit about the history and think hard about what the west does.
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