Southeast Asia 2023 – Laos: Around Luang Prabang

My next destination was beautiful Luang Prabang in Laos, where the entire city and surrounding villages have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nestled alongside the meandering Mekong River, it is filled with numerous Buddhist temples and is popular with both foreign and Lao tourists alike. Every morning, hundreds of monks from the various monasteries walk through the streets collecting alms. The surrounding mountains offer wonderful trails for day hikes to surreal waterfalls and multiday trekking opportunities to hill tribe villages, which I’ll describe in my next post. Despite all these attractions and the fact that I was there for the city’s busy annual Fire Boat Festival (Boun Lai Heua Fai), attended by visitors from near and far, Luang Prabang remains quiet and peaceful – much like Lao culture at large.

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Southeast Asia 2023 – Thailand: Chiang Dao

After a few days back in Chiang Mai to clean up and dry out following my trek in the Mae Wang Area, I took a local bus north to the small town of Chiang Dao. I had heard that its namesake mountain, Doi Luang Chiang Dao, in the Pha Daeng National Park, offered some notable self-guided trails, and I was excited to get out on my own. It became the first of many instances on this trip that my plans didn’t pan out, resulting in some improvisation that yielded unforeseen rewards. I was reminded of my mantra in Namibia: “Expect the unexpected!”

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