As we were having a beer watching the sun set over the Mekong River, I looked over to John and said,
I think this is our best vacation, ever, with kidsAnd it was. Laos is an amazing country, but also on top of that, our kids are now at an age, where we are not lugging strollers or diapers or special snacks or worrying about naptime or finding food that they can eat. And it was glorious.
We started our trip in Vientiane.
Well, actually let me back up a bit... this trip seemed like it was doomed the week before we left. Five days before we were to fly, Lola got a big case of the chicken pox. They had just crusted over, so we were able to fly, with our polka-dotted girl:
Then, the night before we left, I realized that I didn't have my AR (Alien Registration) card which I need to get in and out of the country, and am supposed to have on hand all the time. Luckily, 3000¥ ($27USD) later, and a dozen "Gomenasei" (sorrys), I was released from the immigration office and able to join the rest of the Lemley crew to get on our flight.
Back to Vientiane... as soon as we arrived at the airport, time slowed down. The airport was small and calm. No one was yelling "taxi" or really paying any attention to us at all. We got taxis to the Ibis Hotel - where we luckily scored a family room which was perfect - queen for us and bunkbeds in a joining room for the kids.
Vientiane was great - we stayed right on the strip, so we could easily walk to many cafes and restaurants. And we could walk to the night market and Mekong River within minutes.
We headed off to the Buddha Park for a morning with the kids which was great and our other highlight of Vientiane was meeting up with a friend who teaches there. It was great to catch up and she took us to a fantastic restaurant Lao Kitchen, which we wouldn't have found on our own, and our love for LAAB began.
|We ate it many times in Lao, but was always too excited|
and forgot to take pictures when it came to the table.
Image Credit: wikipedia.com
After two nights in Vientiane, we rented a van and headed up to Vang Vieng. It was lovely! We stayed at Riverside Boutique Resort and had a lovely view. The hotel wasn't the most child friendly place - we felt like we had to keep the kids quiet at the pool, but it was central and nice.
They arranged two kayaking trips for us, which were fantastic. Our friends also arranged a ziplining day with their older kids and they said it was amazing. The food was great in Vang Vieng with cheap, delicious street food and many western options as well - we had falafel and hummus (which is not always easy to find in Kobe) twice and Mexican (Amigos) to mix it up one night.
After a few days in Vang Vieng, we headed up to Luang Prabang. We stayed out of the city at Villa Santi Resort & Spa, (they also had a hotel in the city) which was good for the kids, because we could spend the afternoon at the pool.
Luang Prabang was great - there were many excursions outside of the city (Waterfall trips, Elephant Sanctuary), but we had already done a lot of outside adventures in Vang Vieng, so we stuck to the city and did shopping, eating, and templing. The highlights of Luang Prabang was Living Land Farm, which was an interactive experience where we went through the process of rice.
Laos is a beautiful country. The Lao people we interacted with were kind and welcoming. We always felt safe in Lao and never felt taken advantage of and bargaining was minimal. We were rarely hassled or asked to buy anything. The food was fantastic (although in Luang Prabang we didn't find as many gems as we did in Vang Vieng and Vientiane).
Laos is a country we definitely want to explore again!
Kop Chai Deu
Kop Chai Lai Lai