I wish that it wasn’t the case, but because I work at the same time as I travel, I am a slave to that digital mistress – wifi. To get my work done, I pretty have much have to stay in guesthouses that have wifi, but staying in your room all day is no fun, so when I’m in a new town, I have a way of getting to know the wifi spots very well. I’ve been calling Luang Prabang home for a few weeks now, and I’ll be staying for another few, and I’m really enjoying this slowed down pace of travel that is allowing me to get to know such a lovely town. While here, I’ve visited virtually every bakery, alley café, noodle shop, and restaurant in the vicinity, and I’ve come up with my top 5 wifi hangouts for Luang Prabang.
L’etranger Books & Tea
The other wifi spots mentioned in this blog post are in no particular order, but L’etranger is my absolute favourite without a shadow of a doubt. It’s not just my favourite place to work while using their free wifi, it’s my favourite place to read a book, to have my breakfast, to drink great tea, and watch amazing films. I feel so at home here that I’ve got into a habit of visiting every day.
As you might have guessed by the name of the establishment, this place is part bookshop and part teashop. Books and tea are two of my greatest loves, so paying a visit to this place didn’t take any yanking of my arm. In the bookshop downstairs, you can both buy and borrow books, and they have everything from literary fiction to tourist guides to history books about Laos. Upstairs, you will find a teashop with low tables and loungers so that you can get really comfortable while losing yourself in a travel read. The upper floor is decorated with copies of National Geographic all around, and there is something about the yellow colour of the magazine against the dark wood that makes me feel like I’m in the 1970s.
Their breakfast special is life-giving. It has zero Lao influence and I give zero fucks.
As if all of that greatness wasn’t enough, they serve pots of my beloved English breakfast tea (drinking this for the first time in two and a half months was a truly Euphoric moment), you can order delicious Lao and Western food, the staff are unbelievably friendly, and they screen a different movie every night at 7pm. My dream hangout – I love you L’etranger Books and Tea.
No name alley café
Luang Prabang is without a doubt the most upmarket place that I’ve been to on my south-east Asia travels so far. There are fewer backpackers and far more couples who are 50+ roaming the streets here. It gives the place a relaxed atmosphere, and I appreciate that, but it also means that Luang Prabang is more expensive than some other places – not by a huge margin, but enough for it to be noticeable.
As Luang Prabang is that bit more plush, it’s more of a challenge to find those delicious street eats that this part of the world is so well known for. And so, I felt a genuine sense of joy when I stumbled upon this nameless alley café. They serve the usual fare – noodle soups, fried rice, filled baguettes, crepes, and shakes – but all of it is of a really high standard and much cheaper than the pricey bakeries that line the streets of the town.
I only came here for a quick lunch, and was very surprised when the owner asked if I would like the wifi password. It turns out that he nabs the wifi from a croissant shop next door – ha! – but I admire his pluckiness so I’ve returned a few times to sit outside in the Lao sun to get my work done.
If you’d like to find the no-named café, just walk 5 minutes west of the Royal Palace and you won’t fail to notice it.
One of many bakeries in town, Joma is a bit of an institution that all of the locals and tourists know about. How come? Because the food is great and the coffee is great – simple. Joma is more one of the town’s more expensive places, but while in Luang Prabang I am making the most of that French influence and stuffing as many freshly baked sweet pastries, cakes, pies, and cookies into my mouth as I possibly can.
They also have enough seating to be pretty much guarantee that you’ll be able to secure one of their large comfortable leather chairs, which make settling down to work for a few hours all that much more enjoyable.
Those oatmeal cookies were so bloody good.
Lao Lao Garden
When you visit a town like Luang Prabang, where the sun shines day in and day out, it can be a shame to spend all of your time in cafes for the sake of finding a wifi connection, and so I was mega-happy to find this outdoor eating and drinking space.
This is a laid back space by day or by night, but by night it really looks its best, with lights and lanterns hanging from the trees. They also have 2 for 1 specials on virtually all alcoholic drinks, which can’t hurt. The temptations of Lao whiskey aside, this is a great place to be able to focus on work and have a fruit shake or two, while being served by the staff who I’m pretty sure are mostly gay.
La Pistoche Swimming Pool
There is only one pool that is open to the public in Luang Prabang, and that place is La Pistoche. It’s a wonder that there aren’t more pools as the weather in Luang Prabang can reach such high temperatures that I’m sure many tourists would appreciate a dip. The pool costs 20,000 kip to enter, but if you hang around the bamboo bridge you can usually find staff employees giving out vouchers for 10,000 kip entry. That’s only 85p – a total bargain to enjoy a well kept pool for the day.
There is Lao and Western food to be had, as well as 2 for 1 cocktails, and of course they have free wifi, so you can sit by the pool all day and manage to feel both relaxed and productive at the same time. Hoorah.
And there you have it – my top 5 Luang Prabang wifi spots. If you’re in the area, be sure to check them out.