In asia hiking laos travel preparation

5 tips for Vang Vieng: the Laotian countryside at its best

Beautiful limestone cliffs in Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng is a rural village that should not be skipped during your journey through Laos. It’s like waking up in Avatar. Everywhere you look, gigantic limestone rock formations surround you, towering high like natural skyscrapers. In between you'll find idyllic rice fields, turquoise lagoons and caves.

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In asia checking in hotel review laos

CHECKING IN: Maison Dalabua (Luang Prabang, Laos)

Luang Prabang is a charming little town that you simply cannot skip while travelling through northern Laos. The town has been designated as a UNESCO Heritage Site and is celebrated for its unique mix of French and Lao history and architecture. We found a heavenly retreat just a short walk away from the historical center of town: Maison Dalabua. If serenity is what you are looking for, Maison Dalabua is the perfect place to find it.

The retreat is surrounded by a dreamy pond filled with lotus flowers, which led to its name “Dalabua” meaning “Princess of Lotus”. And that’s exactly why we chose to stay at Maison Dalabua; for its laid back and elegant vibe, reminiscent of ancient colonial times.

Hanging around at the lush UNESCO heritage lily pond of Maison Dalabua

Lotus flowers in the UNESCO heritage lily pond of Maison Dalabua  UNESCO heritage lily pond in the lush garden of Maison Dalabua

The Rooms

We’re all about comfort and style at affordable prices and that’s what Maison Dalabua embodies. It has 26 rooms, to maintain an exclusive and serene ambiance. Different types of accommodation are available from over the water bungalows to elegant deluxe rooms.

Over the water bungalows at Maison Dalabua in Luang Prabang, Laos

Wandering through the lush gardens of Maison Dalabua in Luang Prabang, Laos  A mix of French colonial and Lao decorations at Maison Dalabua

We stayed three nights in a very spacious Deluxe Room which was elegantly furnished with colonial and traditional Lao decorations. Our Deluxe Room also had access to a private terrace overlooking a smaller lily pond.

The Pool

We mainly used the hotel as a base to explore Luang Prabang and its surrounding attractions like the Kuang Si Waterfall and Pak Ou Caves. You can easily arrange these outings yourself by addressing any tuk-tuk driver, but if you prefer a minivan with AC Maison Dalabua can easily arrange it for you.

The pool is the perfect spot to hang out after a long day of sightseeing or if you simply like to schedule a relax day into your undoubtedly busy travel itinerary.

Lounging at the refreshing pool of Maison Dalabua in Luang Prabang, Laos  Poolside room at Maison Dalabua in Luang Prabang, Laos

Lush palmtrees bring shade from the hot sun in Maison Dalabua, Luang Prabang

The Restaurant

One of the most stunning features of Maison Dalabua is their lotus and lily ponds, which covers a major part of the residence’s grounds, which blossom during the day and paint the scenery in the most vibrant splashes of pink and purple. The breakfast terrace is located right beside one of the ponds and offers the most amazing views while enjoying a delicious breakfast of both Western and Asian options. We still think about their delicious Asian breakfast soup and coconut pancakes!

For dinner you can head to the adjacent restaurant Manda De Laos, which is externally-operated but overlooks Maison Dalabua’s pond. Book a table if you’re willing to try traditional Lao dishes and delicious cocktails. Make sure to bring cash or your credit card though, as the restaurant is operated separately, it isn’t possible to add the bill to your room.

Outdoor seating at restaurant Manda de Laos

Coconut pancakes at the breakfast buffet at Maison Dalabua in Luang Prabang, Laos

In addition to all the fabulous amenities of Maison Dalabua, Luang Prabang has some stunning things to do. For a flavor of how to spend your trip to Luang Prabang, check out our Luang Prabang mini travel guide for some travel inspiration!

Decorations at Maison Dalabua in Luang Prabang, Laos

To conclude, we spend 3 fabulous nights at Maison Dalabua in a unique and stylish property that accentuated the ancient charm of Luang Prabang. Complete with their own spa, excursion and transfer booking counter and free wifi, Maison Dalabua is surely a class accommodation we would return to! Click here to book your stay at Maison Dalabua!

* This post contains affiliate links for which we earn a small commission, but come at no extra cost to you! If you’re planning a trip to Luang Prabang, please consider making your booking through these links, you will help keep this site running and keep it add free. Thanks for your support!
** This post was not sponsored, all opinions are our own.

Click here to find all our Laos posts

Are you thinking about visiting Luang Prabang or staying at Maison Dalabua? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

A review of our stay at Maison Dalabua in Luang Prabang, Laos  A review of our stay at Maison Dalabua in Luang Prabang, Laos

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In asia laos wander guide

Surrendering to Luang Prabang's beauty: our detailed guide

Enjoying Luang Prabang street life


Luang Prabang must be one of the friendliest cities we’ve ever explored. The “Pearl of the Mekong” boasts a relaxed atmosphere and is a perfect introduction to Asia because of its mix between French and Lao culture. The city architecture still exhumes colonial bygone times and baguettes and croissants can be found on almost any menu card. The whole city is a Unesco World Heritage site and Buddhist temples are liberally dotted along the streets and river banks.

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In citytrip europe Turkey wander guide

The ultimate guide to exploring Istanbul: what to see, eat and do!

Having the view over the Blue Mosque almost all to myself

Istanbul was unlike any other city I have ever visited. It's a perfect mash-up of East and West, old and new, the traditional and the trendy... I fell in love with the exotic mosaic of flavours and sounds of this culturally unique city. If Istanbul is on your mind, read on for my ultimate wander guide to this amazing city…

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In hiking north-america USA

Bryce Canyon: awesome and unique

Bryce Canyon: view over Bryce Canyon amphitheatre

Nothing prepared us for the absolute magnificence Mother Nature created in Bryce Canyon National Park. We headed there straight after hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park, not able to wait a second longer to contemplate the explosion of colours that paint the extra-terrestrial landscape. Once again, Pinterest and Instagram had done a wonderful job, skyrocketing our expectations.

Bryce Canyon scenic drive

The drive from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park was hands down one of the most epic scenic drives we’ve ever driven… absolutely gorgeous!

Once arrived at our hotel, we still had a couple of hours until dinner time and decided to try to see some of the famous viewpoints before it got too dark. Unlike some of the other national parks, like Zion where you have to take a shuttle bus in order to get to the viewpoints, you can drive to all of them yourself in Bryce Canyon. We spent the next two hours chasing the sunshine and visiting as many viewpoints as possible. We were able to enjoy all of the park's major overlooks in a rather short amount of time as you basically just get out of your car and take a leisurely stroll out to the edge of the pavement. No need for serious hiking.

Bryce Canyon Bryce Point

Bryce Canyon Bryce Point

The 18-mile scenic drive offers several pull-outs and viewpoints, lining the edge of the main amphitheatre, which can become quite busy during peak season (July and August). We definitely wanted to see the most popular viewpoints like Sunset, Inspiration point and Bryce Point. Not many visitors continue south past Bryce Point but we loved Natural Bridge, Agua Canyon and Rainbow Point.

The amazing hoodoo viewing made for a perfect first day at Bryce Canyon. Our first look over the Bryce Canyon amphitheatre took our breath away. I mean, we were gobsmacked, our mouths dropping open and forming the perfect ‘O’. It must be one of the most out-of-this-world natural landscapes we’ve ever seen, even surpassing the extra-terrestrial landscape of the Quiraing in Scotland.

Bryce Canyon Agua Canyon

Bryce Canyon Natural Bridge

If you’re limited in time, the scenic drive through Bryce Canyon is a superb choice and can be done in half a day either by driving your own car or riding the convenient free shuttle bus.

An out-of-this-world sunrise at Bryce Canyon Sunrise viewpoint

The next day we had a 2,5h drive to Page on our agenda where we wanted to tick Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend off our to-do list. This left us with an entire morning to explore the famed Bryce Canyon hoodoos.

Bryce Canyon Sunrise

Bryce Canyon Sunrise

Morning came and we arrived first at the scene in order to catch the earliest sunbeams at Sunrise Point. The moment the first streaks of daylight peak over the Amphitheatre walls and highlight the golden colours of the oddly shaped hoodoos below, is simply magical. The viewpoint was quite crowded but there seemed to be a common understanding to enjoy this moment in pure silence with only the sounds of nature as a background soundtrack. Though still drowsy from sleep, excitement for our nearing hike through the enchanted forest of hoodoo clusters below got me all giddy and excited!

Descending into an incredible alien landscape

After a quick return to our comfy bed in order to catch up on some well-deserved zzz’s, we prepared ourselves to hike down into the field of hoodoos. We'd seen amazing photos from the Navajo Loop trail and were thrilled to get up close to some of the famous rock formations like Thor's Hammer. Slowly descending into the canyon we realized how tall these skinny spires of rock actually are. They seem so small from up above! Check out this video by At Home In Wild Places of the Navajo Loop and Queens Landing trail for an impression.

Bryce Canyon, Navajo Loop hike

Bryce Canyon, Navajo Loop hike

Bryce Canyon, Navajo Loop hike  Bryce Canyon, Navajo Loop hike

Bryce Canyon, Navajo Loop hike

These spires seem to change from different angles – one moment they’re shrouded in a purple haze and look like fairies and other mythical creatures might actually live here, and the next the sun turns the canyon into a hellish landscape where alien life might be lurking behind the corner. We had indeed embarked on the Navajo Loop which we combined with the Queen’s Garden Trail.

Bryce Canyon, Navajo Loop hike

Bryce Canyon, Navajo Loop hike

The trail is consider one of the best trails in the world and we absolutely agree with that. You can walk between hoodoo clusters and even through them via obvious man-made openings in the limestone rocks. Sadly we just missed the remaining snow (in June!) which would only have added to the extraordinary experience we had in Bryce Canyon National Park. The route is fairly easy with a steep incline at the beginning and steep ascent at the end, giving you reason to pause, take a breath and take in the astonishing views. Oh, and of course immortalize this moment by taking the most amazing photos you’ll take during your Southwest road trip.

What to know before you go to Bryce Canyon

  • Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southwestern Utah off of UT-63. When coming from Zion National Park, you’ll drive one of the most amazing scenic drives we’ve cruised so far!

  • From mid-April to November, Bryce Canyon National Park offers a free shuttle service to all the major viewpoints in the park. You aren't required to use the shuttle here like you are at some other parks (like Zion and the Grand Canyon), meaning you can still choose to drive your own car if you want. Just be aware that during peak season, the parking areas at most of the viewpoints are very small and fill up quickly.

  • Bryce Canyon, Navajo Loop hike

  • If you plan on catching sunrise, don’t forget to set your alarm clock at the crack of dawn and take a fleece blanket or warm sweater with you as it can be quite cold.

  • When you plan to go hiking, bring some hiking shoes, especially when there is still snow in the canyon. The sand will turn quickly into mud and you’ll thank me for not going out and about in you tennis shoes. Also, Bryce Canyon is at a pretty high elevation, which means it can often be chilly – even during the summer months.

  • There are not too many hotels right near the entrance to Bryce Canyon. But if that's where you want to stay, your best bets are Best Western PLUS Ruby's Inn and the Best Western PLUS Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel. Both are just minutes from the entrance to the park.

After seeing all the above photos, you might not be surprised to hear that we think Bryce Canyon National Park deserves some of your time when on a road trip through the Southwest. It's pretty darn unique as far as national parks go!

Have you ever been to Bryce Canyon National Park? If not, would you like to go?

Bryce Canyon National Park Pinterest visual  Bryce Canyon National Park Pinterest visual

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In hiking north-america USA

We hiked Angels Landing and survived!

I have to confess that a part of me was secretly freaking out when we woke up early to start our climb to Angels Landing. I had been looking forward to this hike since we started prepping our road trip. Angels Landing is one of the world's most renowned hikes, worthy of all bucket lists. But the closer we got to actually doing the hike, the more I started to doubt if I was going to cope with the toughness and 1000-foot drop-offs on each side of the 5-mile trail. After all, six people have died hiking to Angels Landing.

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In travel preparation

The 'why I love to travel' story

'So what is it that makes you travel so much?', people often ask me!

It's actually easy to answer: I'm a curious guy eager to know what the world is all about. As a little kid I solved this by reading... a lot. While reading, my imagination would take me anywhere I wanted and I could explore almost anything I wanted. Everytime I read a story taking place in a country I never heard of before, I took my world atlas and an encyclopedia for children to learn more about the places all those exciting adventures were happening.

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In north-america USA

Why we eloped abroad and had the marriage we actually wanted.

Wedding pictures taken by New York Dream Weddings

My husband and I were together for 7 years before we got engaged, and were engaged for 4 years before we got married. That fact alone got a lot of eyebrows to shoot up. I lost track of how many times we were lectured on the fact that we seemed to be engaged forever or questioned on when the wedding was finally going to take place.

Truth is, when we first got into this marriage thing, we didn’t really know what we were doing. I mean, yes we found endless lists on ‘how to plan your wedding’, we had many friends and family members wanting to help or inspire us with how they organized theirs and of course I’m not even talking about the aw-inspiring pictures on Instagram and Pinterest… I’m talking about realizing what WE wanted to do, what OUR dream-wedding looked like. We had enough opinions on what the magazines and the rest of society wanted for our big day to look like, but us? We didn’t even give a single thought. We just followed along what everyone else was doing. Were we wedding brainwashed?

Hugo Boss Wedding Dress  Hugo Boss Wedding Dress

Slipping the ring on the finger

For a while we jumped on board of the “big blow-out wedding”-wagon, visiting venues, thinking about guest lists, even going bridezilla on certain occasions. After a while though, we felt something was off, we got so overwhelmed by it all and really weren’t having any fun planning what should be the happiest day of our lives. We wanted to have fun on our wedding day!

So we decided to change course and reflected upon what made us happy, what we enjoyed doing in our life… our answer was crystal clear: we love to travel!

Saaing I-do at the Brooklyn Bridge

Bling Bling shoes

This was our epic face palm-moment that shook us awake. Why hadn’t we thought about this sooner? We wanted to get married while doing the thing we loved most; traveling.

Kissing in front of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Skyline

Getting married in front of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Skyline

Bye bye big wedding celebration and hello elopement abroad!

Read: How to spend 4 perfect days in New York

Why not have a normal wedding abroad you say? In the end we decided to elope simply because we felt weddings have lost the art of being about love. The bottom line was, we didn’t need a room of witnesses to publically declare our love, just living our life together is a testament to that. For my husband and I that meant having a quiet intimate moment between just the two of us, sharing our most personal vows to one another. That was our dream wedding.

Getting married abroad

Where did we end up getting married? We got married at the Brooklyn Bridge Park, overlooking the Manhattan Skyline while we said our I Do’s.

In the end we got the dream wedding we wanted, and though it wasn’t exactly what society thinks a wedding should look like, we did it anyway and it made us happy. There are those who dream of throwing a big wedding with tons of guest and a wedding dress fit for a princess. Others perhaps like the kind of wedding we had; small and no-frills. One choice isn’t inherently better than the other, it’s an intensely personal decision that a couple must make together.

What we’re trying to say is, be brave enough to choose the wedding you want and don’t get sucked in the vortex of choosing what is mainstream accepted by society.

Are you planning on eloping to New York?
We used New York Dream Weddings for our wedding arrangements!

Phone:     1-917-446-3224

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