Opinion This rather different eco lodge is accessed by a 3 hour boat trip up the Mekong river from Luang Prabang included in the cost of stay
Advantages Escape from all modern technology. Camp in a tent but with beds and a shower with a view of the Mekong river. No TV but a fan in. the tent
Disadvantages It is basic accommodation and the food is basic and the trip up the river 3 hours each way.
This eco lodge is owned by the same people as the Villa Maly hotel in Luang Prabang. In order to get to the lodge you have to go on one of the motor launches up the Mekong river for around three hours. This is included in the accommodation cost as there is no other way of getting there. We met our guide at the landing stage in Luang Prabang and someone carried our bags down on to the boat. It was a long way down to the river as the river was very low but the plank across was wide enough and so we managed to get onto the boat without any nasty accidents. We were offered coffee or tea and our guide also pointed out that there was a toilet at the back of the boat. This was pretty basic but served the purpose!! We were also given a couple of bottles of water and once we got to the lodge there were two more bottles in our tent so they looked after us well with water.
Once again we had to walk up steps to the top and then down more steps to our room. The rooms are actually tents with a concrete additional side extension with is the bathroom. The key opens a padlock on the tent flap but more importantly the padlock fits onto a large very heavy wooden box which we put all our stuff into when we were out and about. I do think that the things would have been fairly safe as there are lots of people around and the only way to get into the ‘resort’ is from the river. The village next door relies heavily on the ‘resort’ for jobs so they would be unlikely to spoil their opportunities by stealing but it was better not to put temptation in the way so we played it safe and used the big chest and padlock. The tent was a good solid canvas construction with several ‘windows’. It was a decent size as it had two single beds. A couple of small bedside tables and the chest as well as a coat stand for hanging clothes on. There was electricity so we had two small fans by the beds and lights but no sockets for charging anything as the electricity was from a generator. It was actually quite cool in the night so we didn’t need the fan but we did use the mosquito nets and lots of bug spray and we were not bitten at all. The bathroom was pretty basic. It was actually a wet room with a toilet, a sink which had no tap and then there was a shower head which hung on the wall and this you took off to wash your hands in the sink. They left us a little soap and a shampoo and we were provided with two fairly thin white towels which were made into a towel decoration on our beds. We had two chairs and a table on a ‘patio’ in front of our tent and from here we could enjoy a view of the spa and the river below. We also watched a couple of naughty buffalo running away from their owner who was trying to herd them back to the village. This entire resort was up and down we climbed steps to the tent, then down to the ‘spa’ then up to the top and down to the restaurant and every time we went anywhere there was a climb! There are twenty of these tents so had they all been full it would have been quite crowded. I believe there were about seventeen guests that night so about half full I suppose.
Perfect an ideal escape from the 21st century with views of the Mekong. The tent had all you needed for a night or two with a light and fan ( generator) and shower ( solar) toilet comfortable beds and mosquito nets. The entire resort was on a hill so lots of walking up and down stairs. This is not a place for anyone with a disability.
I have to say this was the least good part. The restaurant was similar to the bar only larger with wooden floors. The tables were so heavy and the chairs similar as I could barely lift them to slide them back. The kitchen was a pretty long walk away so the staff ran backwards and forwards with food to the serving area then they brought it to the tables on the plates. Food was plentiful, nicely prepared and authentic. I found that the meat was a little tougher in the dishes than it had been in Luang Prabang so I carefully avoided the meat and went for the veggies. Desert was fresh fruit sliced and prepared, papaya, sapodilla and mango or banana or dragon fruit in different combinations. I wouldn’t rush back for the food alone but when you think that they were right out in the middle of nowhere the food was okay. The lunch and dinner were similar and on both occasions we had fruit for dessert. Breakfast was pretty unexciting. Hubby had scrambled eggs but I don’t eat eggs so i had three tiny bananas and a couple of slices of warm French bread which was tasty and fresh but bread and jam isn’t my favourite breakfast. I would have preferred a bowl of fresh fruit and a yogurt.
Apart from the visit to the Pak Ou caves on the way up river. At 2.30pm we met our lovely guide and had activities to entertain us, archery with a homemade sort of cross bow and my husband was very pleased to get a Bull’s Eye while I was happy to hit the target! We also went down the sand dune towards the river to learn how to cast one of their fishing nets, which was surprising heavy and very difficult to do. We were given the opportunity to do some gold panning but this required getting into the river so we declined and just admired the local person’s skill. We also went to visit the village next door. The village had three different Laos tribes all living in the village Hmomg , Kamu and Lao- Loum. The people were all very friendly and smiled and said hello to us. The lady in the little shop was selling Lao lao whisky ( more like vodka in my view0 in recycled water bottles. We didn’t want to buy a bottle but we did have a taste each and we gave her the price of a bottle for letting us try it. The children who so sweet and all wanted their photo taken then asked to see the picture which made them giggle and run away. Our guide Lee was lovely and translated for us. We were with a young girl from Vietnam and she loved the children. We went to the school buildings but it was International Ladies Day and a public holiday so it was closed. The village had a temple which was not open and the house next door was where one monk and two novices lived. When they rang the wooden bell the villagers brought food twice a day. Not a bad life and very different from the monks in Luang Prabang who had to walk through the town with their bowls to get their food.
Apart from all the afternoon entertainment and activities ...AFTER DINNER ENTERTAINMENT After our evening meal we were invited over to join the village children and their teacher near the huge fire as they had prepared some singing for us. They sang a few local songs and then they performed some dances followed by assort if bamboo skipping game. This was a bit like elastics but with two bamboo poles that were banged on the ground then together in rhythm, the idea was you jumped in between the poles keeping to the rhythm. They were very good and the only other time I have seen this was at the Opening Ceremony of the Brisbane Commonwealth Games when a Philippine group performed this dance and there it is known as Tinikling. If you want to have a look then go to Youtube and type in Tinikling and there are several videos to watch.
Good to know This is a great escape from everything sort of eco lodge. This was a very special trip. The entire experience was just lovely; everyone made a real effort to make the stay perfect. We were entertained and educated as well a fed and accommodated in a peaceful rural eco retreat.
Value for money estimation