So far in our trip, we’ve done something new in every city. New for me, I mean, because everything is new to Tim. In Bangkok it was ice skating and visiting an abandoned mall. In Chiang Mai it was motorbiking through the mountains. And in Luang Prabang, our new activity was discovering La Pistoche.
When we were wandering around the city searching for accommodation, I noticed a bunch of little signs stuck to different street poles and light posts. “Swimming pool & bar” they say, with a little arrow pointing in the right direction. I didn’t take too much notice because the biggest thing on my mind was making sure we didn’t pay $100 a night for a hotel or end up sleeping on the streets. But a few days later in the heat, I remembered the signs.
After a quick Google for directions, we set off for La Pistoche, one of the most popular backpacker pools in Luang Prabang. If you can find one of the signs – very prominent around backpacking areas and the night markets – then you just need to follow them faithfully and they will lead you very easily to the pool. If you can’t find a sign, jump on the net and grab directions. The address is Ban Phong Pheng Village, Luang Prabang 06000, Laos.
Entry is 20,000 Kip, plus a 50,000 deposit. There’s bicycle and motorbike parking, or tuk tuks waiting outside if you choose to head back that way. Personally, I’d recommend walking or taking a tuk tuk if you plan to drink at the very cool swim-up bar. I rode my bike back to my hostel a little tipsy and it wasn’t a fun (or safe) experience.
The 50,000 deposit leaves you with a little tag with a number. DO NOT lose this tag, or you lose the 50,000. This arrangement may sound a bit strange, but the deposit is more like a bar tab. Tell the bartender/waiter your number when ordering food and drinks, and they take it off the 50,000. If you don’t spend it all, then you get the rest back. If you spend more, you simply pay the difference when you’re leaving. A great idea for a bar in a swimming pool, and it means not having to worry about money until you’re ready to go home.
The water was beautifully refreshing, and we know that because we got there so late that there was nowhere to sit. I’ve read that all the lounges go pretty early in the day, so if you want a day of lounging and sunbathing, it’s best to try and beat everyone else. If you’re going to spend most of your time in the pool – there are stools at the swim-up bar – then it’s not really an issue.
The bar seemed pretty reasonably priced. During “happy hours” which are from 12 to 5 you can buy two for the price of one cocktails, and they make them pretty strong. Big Lao beers are 15,000 Kip and the food all seemed pretty reasonably priced too.
In another pool, there’s a volleyball net (nobody was playing) and a slide. Being told of a slide, Tim went to try it out and used our awesome underwater camera to document the results. There’s also a little “spa” connected to the big pool with the bar, but don’t expect warmth or bubbles. It’s more like a dipping pool for those who don’t want to get wet.
The music is good (and loud), the food is fresh, the drinks are cold, the water refreshing and the company interesting, and potentially amusing. I kept trying to go back on our last day, only to remember my bikini was being washed. Boo. I would recommend this to anyone staying in Luang Prabang for a while who just want to chill out in a traveller’s environment. Far from being “touristy”, La Pistoche has a relaxed vibe that makes you want to stay until the sun goes down. A must on a hot day in the little town of LP.