Luang Prabang is likeable and sweet and on a riverside. It's tiny and full of beautiful temples and French colonial architecture and monks in brightly-hued robes and lots and lots and lots of places to get your feet massaged or purchase an expensive wall hanging. In short, it's full of tourists but has retained some of what brought all these people, including us, to visit.
Just like our experience of Vientiane, Luang Prabang is very chill.
Walking is the best way to get around in town, but you can rent little automatic scooters for $15 or so a day if you want.
Beautiful details jump out at you at every turn.
Bananas dry in woven baskets placed out under the hot sun.
Our hotel (Souk Lan Xang Guesthouse - terrific, but definitely get an upstairs room!) was in a neighborhood just behind Wat Nong, so this is what we saw when we made our way out to the street each morning.
Several evenings, there was a fair going on, and young boys studying to be monks tried to best each other at darts. Monk darts.
There are stunning new temples - this one, Haw Phra Bang, was just completed earlier this year.
Again, you have to keep your eyes open to see the strangest details.
There are older temples, too, highly venerated and covered with art.
Parts of the city just have a certain holiness to them, that the high level of tourism will hopefully never be able to scour away.
Orange and saffron are everywhere: on Buddha statues,
hung carelessly from young monks' living quarters,
and on random clotheslines around town. Hey, monks need clean clothes too!
You can even see small splashes of sun-gold in the distance sometimes, enjoying themselves by the river.
And there's a terrific morning market, too. Laos was the first time in a while we were really surprised by the huge variety of ingredients - more coming up! We did a Lao cooking class in Luang Prabang, which helped us tremendously with identifying some more obscure ingredients.
Bamboo shoots, unprocessed, and Mekong river weed that's been dried in sheets and flavored with sesame, garlic, and chile.
Bright pops of tiny tomatoes covered by the graceful umbrella of a perfect oyster mushroom; snow-white eggplants and the mauve of banana blossoms.
And for an aperitif or digestif or during-meal-tif, there's Lao Lao, a local rice whiskey. I enjoyed the lower alcohol versions and the ones flavored with hibiscus or honey or ginger.
Yes, Luang Prabang is worth several days of your time.
Just bring a willingness to sit back and relax.