If you haven’t read any of the prior expense reports from our trip, check them out below:
We spent 7 days and 7 nights in Luang Prabang, Laos, arriving on the evening of September 16th from Chiang Mai, Thailand and leaving on the afternoon of September 23rd. Flying into Luang Prabang was awe-inspiring with lush green, mountainous landscape. We could see the intersection of the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers, and we were shocked at the size of the Mekong River with its muddy looking waters, due to it currently being the rainy season in the area.
We took advantage of the some of the natural beauty of Laos by visiting a couple of the waterfalls and enjoying the sunsets over the Mekong river. We also visited several nearby temples and a museum. We were surprised to find that even though Luang Prabang is a small area, it is more expensive for most things than in Thailand, including accommodations and food. We also found that the whole economy in the area is based on tourism, so the tuk-tuk drivers and restaurant staff are more pushy when trying to get your business than in Chiang Mai.
Even though we were slightly further north than Chiang Mai, the temperatures were hotter on average, and we got surprisingly little rain during the daytime while there. We enjoyed our stay in the area and would consider returning in the future, but probably not in the rainy season in order to see the waterfalls when the water isn’t as muddy.
Stay tuned for Whitney’s next post about all of our adventures on this part of the trip, but for now I’ll focus on the expenses incurred while in and around Luang Prabang. Keep in mind that all of the expenses that I’ll talk about below are my expenses only, since Whitney and I have quite different spending habits. We split all shared expenses evenly, so my half of the shared expenses and then my individual expenses are how I calculate the numbers below.
Accommodations: All seven nights in Luang Prabang we stayed at an AirBnB in a convenient location near the main peninsula area. We were only about a five minute walk from the night market full of street food and vendors which we enjoyed. There was more of a small hotel type feel here than at the other AirBnBs we’ve stayed at on the trip so far, with six individual rooms and a front desk. The place was very nice with daily maid services, free coffee and filtered water, and helpful front desk staff. Since we stayed for a week, we got a discount on the nightly rate, which we planned in order to save on our expenses for housing.
- Total for my expenses: $60
Food and drink: We ate a lot of our meals from street vendors in the night market near our AirBnB. We tried out several of the restaurants and cafes in the area as well, which were more pricey than street food, but had better food and service. We tried some of the local beer (BeerLao) at various restaurants and had some desserts and fruit smoothies. Overall we weren’t very adamant about keeping food costs low here since even the more expensive places were very cheap based on US and European standards. We got free meals at the Chiang Mai airport lounge (a surprisingly nice lounge with free alcohol) before leaving Thailand, as well as in the Luang Prabang airport lounge (not nearly as nice but with snacks and WiFi) before leaving Laos.
- Total for my expenses: $49
Transportation: Our flight from Chaing Mai to Luang Prabang cost more than we wanted to spend, but Whitney did not want to take a bus or boat because of the longer time it would take as well as safety concerns. We paid $103 each for the short flight, which certainly isn’t a lot by US standards but was a lot more than the other modes of transportation. Also included in transpiration expenses while here is the Visa required for entering the country. This cost us $36 and is valid for 30 days. Besides the flight and Visa, our only other transportation expenses were taxis to and from the airport which were fairly cheap. We found no reason to take taxis/tuk tuks while in the city due to it being a relatively small place that is easy to get around on foot. Taxis to and from the waterfalls will be included in the activity costs below since I group those things together.
- Total for my expenses: $147
Activities: As I mentioned earlier, we really wanted to see some of the natural beauty of Laos while in Luang Prabang. We went to both Kuang Si and Tad Sae waterfalls, which were both beautiful, although Tad Sae was nothing compared to the magnificent Kuang Si waterfall. Both waterfalls required an entry fee as well as a taxi to take us there and back. We got great pictures at both places and got to enjoy a refreshing swim at the Kuang Si waterfall as well. Aside from the waterfalls, we spent a couple of evenings enjoying the beautiful sunsets over the Mekong river, including a short but steep hike up to Mount Phousi at sunset and taking a sunset river cruise on a traditional Lao “slow baot” our last night in the area.
Besides these adventures, we also got Lao oil massages one afternoon and got three day-passes to a couple of gyms in the area. The oil massage was awesome and very cheap. The gyms were cheap as well and had all the equipment we needed, although some of it was very old and neither gym had A/C, which was tough with 90+ degree weather.
- Total for my expenses: $39
My total expenses for 7 days and 7 nights in Luang Prabang, including accommodations, transportation, entertainment, and food were approximately $295!
Running total for entire trip to this point (my expenses only): $3,238.
We headed to Vientiane, Laos next, so stay tuned for my next update and watch the Facebook page where we are posting much more frequently about the trip!