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Monday, May 19, 2014

Pub-crawling around the world: A cosy little wine bar in Luang Prabang

I wouldn't consider myself a wine snob - I'm pretty much an ABC girl - "Anything But Chardonnay" but I do love a good Sancerre when the budget stretches, as I've mentioned before. Unfortunately, when backpacking, budget is a huge concern, but also - it can be pretty fruitless searching for a good bottle of wine in less cosmopolitan parts of Asia. I'd heard that Luang Prabang, with it's French influence, could be an exception. Thus after a few weeks in Thailand, where it was hard to find anything BUT Chardonnay, I was eager to sample a proper glass of wine.

It was New Year's Day, I wasn't feeling too seedy but my body knew it had been out the night before so I was going to take it easy. After buying a huge street dinner for 10, 000kip (Less than 90 cent) I wandered down the street, soaking up the tranquility of Luang Prabang and people watching, I was enticed into a bar by the wine cellar on display and some comfortable street seating(wooden tables and small armchairs).

The waiter was very friendly and attentive, and I found a Pinot Grigio on the menu that they would serve by the glass. It was 35, 000 kip, which is expensive by Laos standards (a beer is usually 8-10,000kip) but hey, that's still half of what I would pay at home, or in Australia. The wine glass was large and it was a generous serving, so I sat, watching LP go by, on the first day of the New Year in a brand new country.

As happens, I got chatting to an older couple at the table beside me. They were German and travel to Laos every couple of years. Now, they felt, it had gotten too touristy - although I found it a welcome relief, and much quieter from other backpacker hotspots. She was intrigued that I travelled alone and that I hadn't yet 'settled' but I explained that I wasn't done seeing the world yet and I really thought the best way to do that was on my own. They told me all about their sons in college and their own travels, and we talked about wine for a little while. He chose a cigar from the box the waiter brought out and I ended up ordering another glass before closing time.

Luang Prabang has a curfew, which I found most interesting and probably a good idea. Bars all close by 11.30 and indeed many of them are shut long before. It is a public offence to be noisy on the street after this and certainly drunken groups are hard to find. I was informed of a late 'club' by my hostel receptionist, if I so wished, but I felt after my crazy few days in Chiang Mai, and a trip down the Mekong planned for early the next morning, I was best to retire. Was 2014 changing me already?

Although I have searched Google, I can't find the name of this bar! I've put the location below, but it may have to remain my little secret, until I return - hopefully by 2015 :)

Ambience: 8/10 - LP is not a party town, but for a good wine at a reasonable price, and probably to make friends, this is a good place.
Food: Not available.
Location: On Sisavangvong Street about half way down, although I can't remember the name
Toilets: None, I had to wait until I got home
Overall: A small place but definitely a 8.5/10 for it's wine list. Lost points for no toilets.

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