Choosing a guest house in Luang Prabang is (much like the city in general) pretty stinkin’ great. Just wander down one of the cobblestone side streets on either side of the night market, and you’ll be surrounded by gorgeous two story buildings with dark wood balconies.
Prices on the street seem to vary only slightly, with doubles from 60,000K – 100,000K ($8 – 12). Most have wifi in rooms, and provide free tea, coffee, cold drinking water, and bananas (one day I ate 10 of those suckas. Banana buffet for the win!)
Free tea, coffee, and bananas!
We chose Somjith Guesthouse, on a wee alley way off an apparently nameless side street just south west of the night market. Somjith won us over with its light-filled rooms and balconies (with one perfect little table and chair set up per room).
Our balcony, complete with drawing/gaming/breakfasting table
Ahimsa chillin’ with his laptop on the bed, as he is wont to do.
The Good: Fantastic location, rad balcony, free bananas!
The Bad: The wifi wasn’t perfect, particularly on the first floor. That said, having to spend an afternoon with a brownie and a giant mug of coffee at Joma Café isn’t the worst thing ever…
The Price: Our double room set us back 90,000K ($11) per night — a little more than we paid in other parts of Laos, but certainly nothing bank-breaking.
Getting there: From the bus station or airport, ask your tuk-tuk/taxi driver to drop you at Joma Café, near the night market. Take the side street right next to Joma. About half way down, you’ll spot a ‘Somjith Guesthouse’ sign on your left. Follow the signs!
Laos quickly became one of our favorite countries in Asia — and not only because it was ridiculously cheap. We spent the majority of our days there just wandering, enjoying the relaxed pace and beautiful scenery, cycling, and reading. Bliss! Beer was half as expensive (and twice as tasty) as Thai beer, and we each ate our weight in $1.20 baguettes. Overall, our daily spending was the lowest it’s been so far, with the exception of my home-cooking hermit month in Goa.
Like in Thailand, a chunk of our food budget in Laos went towards super cheap beer ($1 for a small bottle, $1.20 – $1.70 for a big ‘un) and happy hour cocktails. The actual food was affordable, too — $1.20 for a giant baguette in Luang Prabang, $2 for a fabulous Indian meal in Nong Khiaw, and $2 – $3 for a big bowl of soup or mock chicken laap at Cuisine D’Or, a rad little vegetarian place in Vientiane.
Snack food is surprisingly expensive (a packet of chips often costs more than a massive baguette), so we had a singularly chip and cookie free few weeks!
Our room in Muong Ngoi in Northern Laos was one of our cheapest so far — 30,000K/$3.80 for a nice big double room, a private bathroom, and a fantastic balcony. On the other end of the scale, we sprung out for a nice triple in Vientiane (70,000K/$8.75 each). Most of our rooms, unsurprisingly, were somewhere between the two.
We made our way around Laos by bus and boat. Some example fares: Vientiane to Vang Vieng by minibus (4hrs) was 40,000K/$5.10. Nong Khiaw to Muong Noi by local boat (1hr) was 25,000K/$3.20.
Miscellaneous expenses include tube rental in Vang Vieng, a pair of jandals for Ahi, and hair dye and sunglasses for me.
Total: $35.06 altogether/$17.53 each (cheaper than India!)