Booking a flight to Laos was the result of having been to almost all of the ‘usual’ Asian destinations. I’ve been more than once to Phuket’s beaches, Shanghai’s Pudong bars and Bali’s beach clubs – and I was looking to explore somewhere a little more unusual. We started off looking at a map of South-East Asia and trying to find a place that neither my visiting friend or myself had ever been to, and Laos seemed to tick that box!
We started off our trip with equal amounts of excitement and cluelessness about where we were heading, but as soon as our plane was flying over Laotian land, we knew we’d made the right decision. I had to put down my Fault in our Stars book just to enjoy the view of the green, lush mountains and a hidden rainbow as we flew in. We landed at the small, pristine Luang Prabang International Airport and instantly knew that this would be a trip we’d never forget…
After getting our visa on arrival, we were warmly greeted by the Amantaka’s staff who took us to the hotel in a van complete with wifi and tamarind candies (be prepared, you will be hearing a lot about these tamarind candies in this review – once you have one you can’t stop!).
We drove through the beautiful UNESCO heritage site of Luang Prabang and as we pulled up to the driveway, we knew instantly that this was an Aman property with all its signature traits. The hotel is actually a former French colonial hospital and there is a massive living room area that overlooks the serene pool and courtyard where you can make yourself comfortable. They also have an award-winning spa set in an outdoor oasis which looked truly tempting…
Our khan pool room suite was equally as impressive as the living room area, complete with a four poster bed which transports you to an elegant, bygone era. We even had our own private pool – perfect for a midnight dip!
We could have just stayed in the confines of the hotel as it was so beautiful and relaxing, but we wanted to make the most of all Laos has to offer! Luckily, the hotel’s staff were extremely helpful, planning our itinerary with us. They arranged for us to start off our trip feeding the monks right outside our hotel at 5am, followed by a Laotian omelette for breakfast and a bicycle journey around the town’s monasteries. We cycled past French bakeries and small boutiques along the river-bend taking in the sights and sounds – it really made us feel like we were in a movie. The whole cycle trip reminded me of something the hotel’s General Manager shared with us when we first checked in, and that was to always keep in mind that in Laos, they have their own clocks. Time is a virtue here and has its own speed.
We were then taken to Amantaka’s private sunset river cruise where we were treated to some local Laotian beer and a sneaky shot of the traditional snake whiskey! The next stop was the city’s best kept secret – the bustling night market which is filled with vendors selling snacks, clothes, lights and anything you could possibly imagine!
I was excited to try the best of Laos cuisine, which is the perfect combination of French, Northern Thai and Chinese. The restaurant at Amantaka has a comprehensive menu of Laotion choices and European options, so being a vegetarian wasn’t an issue at all as they cater to all dietary requirements. We decided to indulge in the traditional Laotion dinner menu, which comes with the staple of sticky rice and a feast of seven dishes, each one delighting different taste buds.
Our night ended with a quick dip in our pool and even though there are no TVs in any of the rooms, it’s something you don’t even miss. Amantaka is truly a home away from home, making you feel so at ease and comfortable. It’s the perfect hotel for a city that truly has something for everyone – whether you’re looking for a restful getaway or to explore the stunning scenery. Keep in mind that the city is very small (they have to run around the city three times for the marathon!), but it leaves you with enough memories to last a lifetime.
Amantaka, 55/3 Kingkitsarath Road Ban Thongchaleun, Luang Prabang, Laos, www.amanresorts.com