From Hanoi we discovered that it could be another potential nightmare to get to Laos, as the border crossing was half way down Vietnam. So, after a few beers we decided to book the one hour flight to Luang Prabang, Laos. Luang Prabang was a welcome relief from the bustle of Hanoi. The town was under a World Preservation Order and so had well preserved, clean streets and nicely kept shops and guesthouses. Luang Prabang is a small little town on the Mekong River and has stunning views with plenty of temples and Buddhist monks walking the peaceful streets. At night the streets were lit up with the glow from the night markets that gave the town an even greater charm.
Our hostel, like many others had a curfew at 11:30, so there wasn't too much incentive to stay out late drinking. One of the days we took a daytrip to a waterfall close to Luang Prabang where the water looked absolutely freezing, and Paul's attempts to throw Crust in led to a few death threats, but we all eventually took the plunge!
Vang Vieng was our next destination in Laos. It was very chilled-out place with every restaurant having sofas and cushions showing old episodes of Friends or Family Guy. The main thing to do here is the tubing, which is just basically where you are given an inner tube from a lorry tyre, driven up the mekong and you float back down. There are bars dotted along the river and at various points someone shouts to see if you want a beer. If you do want a beer (we did), they throw you a rope and drag you into the bar! Some of the bars were real busy with the music blasting out and they also had some dangerous rope swings. After a few beers you would float down the river to the next bar - what a great idea! No one ever seems to complete the journey down the river and we were no different, after a couple of bars and few beers later the last thing we wanted to do was float down a river, so we made it to the bank and hailed a taxi back!
From here we took a bus to Vientiane which was just an overnight stop to catch our bus back into Thailand for Christmas!