Show & Tell with Zoro Goes East on Luang Prabang, Laos

January 24, 2012 4 comments

Tara is the voice behind the inspiring blog Zoro Goes East (gotta love the name), and the mother to 3 beautiful children. Together, they take advantage of their new work life in Singapore  to explore the East…that’s the right expat way to go! Singapore, although not terribly inspiring (here’s BozAround 24hours in Singapore last year), is indeed a perfect base as many exotic destinations lie within a couple hours away. Their trips have included PenangBali, Siem Reap, Langkawi, Chiang Mai, Beijing, Hong Kong. I’ve never been to Laos and we were really hoping to squeeze it in last year in our South East Asia leg…but logistically we couldn’t. This time of the year til about April is the peak season and the best time weather-wise. If you only have time for one place in Laos, go to Luang Prabang…Some ideas for a family easter adventure…?!

Meet Tara & Her Zoros

Hi. My name is Tara. I am Swiss/Canadian and along with my French/Swiss husband JD and our three children/my Zoros:  Zoé (10), Rose (8) & Oscar (5) we moved to Singapore a year ago from Geneva, Switzerland. This is our first family expat experience and we are trying to make the most of our time here. Back home in Geneva, I was a fashion buyer and for now I’m an Expat Mom & Wife who blogs about our Singaporean adventures.

Inspiration

I started my blog Zoro Goes East shortly after arriving in Singapore. I realized that I was too lazy to write 20 similar emails describing our new life here. The blog is an easy way for me to keep in touch with family and friends.

Destination: Luang Prabang, Laos

Definitely, one of the highlights of living in Singapore is traveling around Asia. In October, we took a 4 day trip to Luang Prabang, Laos, the ancient royal capital and now an UNESCO World Heritage site. There are no direct flights from Singapore to LP, so we transited via Chiang Mai and spent a night there on the way to Laos.  We chose only to stay in LP because access within Laos, I was told, is complicated, lengthy and can be scary. LP is a small city, with basically four main roads, flanked by 2 rivers one of them being the Mekong. Four days gave us ample time to explore Luang Prabang and to chill. LP has a very relaxed and authentic vibe: a mix of Buddhist temples, wats, monasteries and French colonial architecture. I traveled to LP 12 years ago, worried that it had changed, but really not much has changed, except for the number of hotels.

PLAY in Luang Prabang

My kids loved exploring LP by bicycle, visiting temples, markets and the ancient royal palace. In Singapore, we drive everywhere, so the kids really enjoyed cycling around and site seeing at their own rhythm. We would cycle in the morning, before it was too hot, and in the afternoon take boat rides along the Mekong river and watch the sun set over the surrounding moutains. Don’t miss out on the Pak Ou caves with their 1000 buddhas, about a 90min boat ride trip. To refresh ourselves, we also took a morning trip to the Kuang Si Falls and swam in freezing cold water.  At night, the kids loved taking tuk tuk rides around the city.

EAT in Luang Prabang

Our favorite family restaurant was le Café Ban Vat Sene on LP’s main road. Highlight, delicious bread, undoubtedly remnants of LP’s French colonial past. Menu includes a mix of western and Asian food. Delicious fresh baked deserts too. We also ate at L’Elephant and tried Mekong seaweed, not the kids favorite! However, the restaurant is really charming and serves delicious French and Laotian cuisine.

SLEEP in Luang Prabang

We stayed at the Satri House, the former residence of Prince Souphanouvong, located in the heart of LP. Beautiful, spacious colonial style rooms. 2 nice size pools and an enormous pond where the kids had fun feeding the fish. Super friendly and helpful staff. French manager who looks out for you and makes sure you make the most of your stay. Only drawback if traveling with young children, no connecting bedrooms.

SHOP in Luang Prabang

Our favorite shopping destination was without doubt the Night Market. Every night, around 5pm, the sellers set up their wares. Girls loved buying embroidered pouches, bags and pillows. Every night of our stay in LP the girls and I found some excuse to go back to the night market.

Tips from the road

I keep on reading that LP will open more access routes and therefore make it easier for mass tourism, so my advice is go as soon as possible before the charm of LP is lost. Also, before going definitely check out the dates for the monsoon season – would be a shame if you could not cycle around.

With the long Chinese New Year break this week, I can’t wait to discover where Tara and her Zoros have been this time…to be continued on Zoro Goes East.

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