Tranquil Nature Escape in Luang Prabang
Saturday, February 9, 2019
by Courtney Foon
Luang Prabang is a modest, ancient town located in the hillsides of Northen Laos. It has a strong cultural heritage and preservation for traditional textile arts which is reflected in products found in local shops and the Luang Prabang Night Markets. The Laotian people are extremely respectful, fair and family-friendly which creates a safe atmosphere for travelling. I doubt you will be hassled, robbed or ripped off.
There are two main streets where you can expect to find the typical tourist amenities such as accommodation, money exchange/ATMs, supermarket, eateries, bars, markets and transport via Tuk Tuk. Although there is a sense of busyness, it is fairly easy to find a quiet area away from the hustle and bustle.
Most of Laos is landlocked and can get to very high temperatures although depending on the time of year, you will find Luang Prabang is generally a lot cooler due to the presence of the Mekong River and direction of the winds. The month of May tends to be the hottest month with an average temperature of 29ºC (84ºF) and December is the coldest at an average of 20ºC (69ºF) so pack according to the time of year that you are visiting.
Nahm Dong Nature Park
During my stay at a local Airbnb, I found a pamphlet about Nahm Dong Nature Park. To my surprise, the attraction had not surfaced in previous travel research or tour companies in the city. Because of this, I was determined to explore it and I was amazed at what I found.
Nahm Dong Park is located 10km from the city centre and tucked away high up in the misty mountains. The park spreads across 18 hectares of lush, mountainous views and fresh, flowing waterfalls. It is the perfect sanctuary for anyone wanting to connect with nature and find quiet time in their travel schedule including families, couples and individuals. I’d recommend that you purchase a Full Pass and spend an entire day at the park, or even stay at the camping facilities provided (ensure to inquire about this prior to your visit).
There are endless activities in the park for quiet contemplation and serene connection with nature as well as activities to get you moving and give you an adrenaline boost. Here is a list of activities that I did at Nahm Dong Park.
The Garden of Senses
Walk through a variety of flora and fauna, close your eyes and try to guess which of your senses wakes up. I recommend walking on the garden’s cobbled path in barefoot for a little foot massage on your travelling feet, it worked wonders for me! The whimsical koi fish pond was so beautiful that I ended up sitting at the pond for 40 mins just watching.
Find a platform
As you make your way around the walking trails, there are many platforms that you can use to get some shade, have a picnic or enjoy quiet meditation. The sounds coming from the mountains, waterfalls, birds and insects are incredible and the views are breathtaking.
Swim in the waterfall
Take a dip in one of the many waterfalls scattered in the park to cool off and also purify your body to let go of any emotional baggage you no longer need. There’s something magically powerful about waterfalls and how refreshing they are.
Participate in a workshop
There are a variety of workshops including handicrafts, cooking, and occasional workshops such as lantern making or beekeeping. I participated in a bamboo weaving workshop and had a great time learning valuable knowledge from an 80 year old local from a nearby village. Bamboo baskets have been in Lao culture of many generations and used for harvesting food, catching fish, transporting goods and more.
Relax at the restaurant or cafe
The restaurant serves a delicious selection of authentic Lao food and refreshing beverages. The View Point Cafe also has a rooftop for you to immerse yourself in nature and overlook the entire valley. Both the restaurant and cafe are great spots to relax between hikes and recover from the sun. Keep in mind that the cafe serves beverages only.
Zipline or treetop walk through the forest
The zipline has to be the most fun activity in the park where you are safely suspended in the air, flying from tree to tree. There is a guide in the front and back of the group. The guides are very thorough, professional and safety conscious. For those who don’t enjoy an adrenaline rush, you can also walk through the treetops through cable bridges on some of the same path as the zipline.
There are multiple hiking tracks around the park that can be self-guided or organised with a guide. The sites are beautiful and because there are not many people around, you often have the track to yourself. Ensure to check the weather before you choose a trail. I had to turn around halfway through a trail due to the heat.
Getting to Nahm Dong Park
It isn’t the easiest to get to as it is a long dirt road uphill and Tuk Tuk’s are not willing to take you there so you will need a car to take you. Luckily, you can arrange a shuttle pick up from the city centre which is usually early in the morning between 8-8:30 am. The “shuttle” I went in was actually a ute that picked up the staff members which was nice meeting a couple of them who were super friendly. Just letting you know this so you don’t expect a bus, think of it more like a seat in a family car 🙂
Getting to Laos
I recommend flying into Lao if you are tight on time. Remember to be prepared to obtain a 30-day visa on arrival which requires two blank pages on your passport, two passport photos and $35 US dollars or equivalent in Thai Baht or Lao Kip.
Other ways of travelling would be by bus, slow boat or ferry (depending on where you are coming from). It would be worth checking out alternative options if you are conscious of the budget and don’t mind spending more time on scenic routes.
Overall, I had an amazing time in Luang Prabang, particularly at Nahm Dong Nature Park. Words and images cannot fully describe how beautiful the park really is. Make sure to check it out in person if it interests you.
I hope this post has been helpful and thanks for reading!