Luang Phabang, Laos – I bought Opium at 10,000 kip!

For every country, there’s a prize town/city/state, the one town that sets itself apart from the rest, known internationally and locally for its beauty, extravagance or monumental history background.

painting of lao girl
Or for their women.

In Laos, it’s Luang Phabang.

mekong river
Mekong River

A city intersecting at the curve of the famous Mekong River which separates Laos from the Thai border, Luang Phabang is a gorgeous river city that puts you in awe, not to mention extremely romantic.

posing with laotians
Posing with the locals

Yes it sucks to be traveling alone right about now. As I left Raj in the city of sports – Vang Vieng, I made my way up north, this time on an aircond bus for the price of 85,000 kips, to Luang Phabang.

Little did I come to realize what a small world indeed we all are living in. Remember that Irish guy John I met while tubing? Well, I met him on the bus and then we began to travel together for the rest of my Luang Phabang journey.

There’re few things you have to do in Luang Phabang, whether if you have time to travel out of town to visit the plain of jars (a trek that takes three days to visit a village full of hundreds of jars. errrrr.. sounds…. interesting), or to climb the Phu Si hill to see the sun rise (which I did, Phu Si hill. Tee hee hee…)

But there’s one thing strongly recommended by a friend whom I met in Sipadan that has traveled in Laos for a month, is to rent a tuk-tuk and head out 29km south of town to this amazingly gorgeous KuangSi Waterfall for a swim.

road sign to kuang si fall

And I did.

tuk tuk ride to kuang si fall
On the tuk tuk to KuangSi Falls

You can get tour agency to fetch you there on a minivan, but then it would have cost each person USD6. My advice is to get a group of travellers and rent a tuk-tuk to the falls, and spend as much time as you wish playing with the water. The minivan usually don’t let you play for more than an hour.

tuk tuk price in luang phabang
I know it says 200,000 kip for a whole tuk tuk but it is possible to haggle down to 150,000 to 180,000 kip the ride.

Prepare another 20,000 kip for the entrance.

ticket to kuang si fall
Come to think of it, every tourist destination I went in Luang Phabang cost me a blinking 20,000 kip! What a rip off!!!

But for 20k kip, you can see some bears and tigers.


tiger in cage

And some really nice flowers.

bell flower

bell flower - bottom view

Eat some raw plants stem shown by the locals.

eating stem of plant

It might be poison but I wouldn’t know.

stem of plants
Taste rather sour.

Take some really nice shots of nature.

bottom of kuangsi fall

small waterfall

cloudy day
O shit, it’s going to rain. Again.

Not before the tedious trek up the waterfall on some crazy steep rocks.

trekking up the waterfall

But then at the end of the day, the best of the journey is you get to play in the freezing cold water under an amazing waterfall.

kuangsi fall and me

No kidding the water was cold as ice. If I have balls, they would have froze.

But it’s all worth it.

kuangsi fall and me 2

me and rainy
Me and rainy (her boyfriend help took this photo)

waterfall 2


middle view of waterfall
View from the edge of the waterfall

me at the brink of waterfall
Squatting at the edge of the waterfall, omfg.

me and john
Diving inside and behind the waterfall with John, ultra zoom in shot.

It's beyond words, but I had the most grand time in KuangSi fall, highly recommended to visit. Btw, don't forget to bring dry towels and food.

I also tried Lao lao, Laotian whisky given by the locals. Aweful drink. Aweful aweful drink.

lao lao

With more trekking, you can reach the top of the waterfall where the flow is steady and slow.

top of waterfall

top of waterfall 2

And a view not to be missed.

top view of waterfall

In the evening, when I finally had all the fun, a slow cooling ride on a tuk tuk back to town was just what I needed.

me on tuk tuk

At night, you can take a stroll in the famous night market of Luang Phabang, selling all sorts of tribal accessories and handicrafts.

night market

Remember to haggle till your jaw dropped.

silver bags

Prices of everything you see here has been hiked up for tourists around the world.

earrings night market

jewellery night market

bag night market

shoe pillows night market
I bought two of these. They’re soooo comfortable!

Situated at the Golden Triangle, Laos, Thailand and Burma were famous for being one of the largest opium production region after the World War Two in the late 80’s, producing close to 3,900 tons of Opium every year.

That’s a lot of drug to get you high.

Nowadays, you still find that influence all around Laos. With shroom shake, “happy” shake, weed and opium selling at every corner of the town, it’s hard NOT to try it.

Even for a person as careful as me, who shun drug like it’s AIDS to the far corner of the earth, became a victim of the golden region.

I got sicker that night you see (with all the cold water in the afternoon, it’s no wonder I never recover, duh)

So I went to a local pharmacy to buy some cough syrup to cure my phlegm problem. To my dismay, they only sell some dodgy thai cough syrups which I have never seen before.

thai cough syrup

Which looked like sewage water, and by god I swear taste like one too!!

UGH! I can’t believe I drank it.

For 10,000 kip, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. (Afterall it’s only RM4)


Just when I finished two spoonfuls of it, I turned the bottle around to speculate the ingredients, wondering what in the world makes this liquid taste so foul.

opium cough med

I swear. I didn’t know!


29 kissed Nicole

  1. Hey those ear rings are really lovely!
    Get well soon...

  2. wow opium...and i thought they always come in the dry weed style to be burned on chinese pipes...lolz...anyway dun get addicted or else u r gonna get a hard time finding those in m'sia...wahkakaka...XP



  3. Nice photos and story. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Gosh.

    The scenerys are really beautiful and the night market is simply a dream come true for a shopaholic.

    One day, I shall visit that country too! :D

  5. it's actually codeine (a type of opium derivation). codeine is the cough suppressant in many cough syrups. maybe they use opium which in turn contains very small amount of codeine.

  6. God!

    Those pictures are awesome! Nope, it's Bea-U-Ti-FuL!!!

    Love em'!

    Ah mann....

  7. Hi Nicole!

    I must say I'm a fan of your travel blogs. and Kuang si waterfall is simply A-MAZ-ING. and after all tt cough syrup fiasco I hope you got well, esp risking opium ;P

    Also wanted to ask you how you got to sapa, vietnam... did juz buy train tickets on the spot or in advance? or did u book with a tour agency? I'm going there in June this yr and have tried online tour agents but they seem to be freaking expensive! USD140 for 3 nights, 2 spent on train!! wonder if i could get a tour juz when i arrive in hanoi, or shld i book now, via websites.
    also, which tour operator did u go with for halong bay? hehe.. liked tt wooden junk lots!

    Thank you v much for ur help...

  8. Great photos, Nicole. Unlucky on the opium...

  9. nice photos. opium for cough syrups is pretty common. normally called 'codeine'.

  10. the cough syrup looks... crude...

  11. Dear Nicole,
    This is an excellent post. For the past few days you have been sharing some very interesting blog on your travelling experience. Particularly those unfiltered real life story where it give avid travellers an upper hand preparation before travelling. I really hope you can post more interesting travelling post. Should I need more travelling tips, I'll msn ya :)

    Ah Xiong

  12. you have very very tiny boobs ...

  13. I think that sour root thing you were eating looks like rhubarb. Or at least Chinese rhubarb. Bet it still makes a lovely crumble. The leaves are poisonous though apparently.

  14. Cookie Monster10/4/08 1:29 PM

    Hahaha so did you get high after taking the cough mixture?

  15. Wow Nicole, seems like you are having fun travelling. Envy! Enjoy your post. But I was totally disgusted by the cough syrup part. Eww.. Super pei fu you for drinking it.

  16. FYI Nicole,

    Opium is present in most cough syrups (the ones issued by doc, ok?). High chance if a cough syrup makes u drowsy,it contains codeine. Codeine is extracted from opium. Others are extracted from morphine.

    So no worries!

    BTW, love ur pics!

  17. hi nic, next time pse stay away from those trumpet-like flowers. it's called datura. they r pretty but also toxic. there has been cases where the flowers are brought into hotel rooms and its perfume will cause the occupant to become drowsy......! btw, great pixs u have there. thks for sharing...

  18. Nice pictures :) Thanks for the sharing Nicole

  19. hey hey..those slippers look so cute & comfy..they are slippers rite? may i know how much they are? :)


  20. OMG, the pics of scene surround was so damn beautiful... wish i was there too...

  21. ah! travelling again! i hate you! when r u goin to include me in your trip >.<

  22. Nothing strange about it. We all know that cough syrup is addictive.

  23. Good pictures, good entry. But please don't exaggerating things lah (opium in cough syrup! so what?).

    And aren't you aware that this entry (the opium part)can give Laos a bad reputation among future travellers??

  24. Hey druggy... How are u? Miss u so much... Really miss your blog too after being unable to get online for so long due to the server breakdown in my university... Nice posts you have lately... U are really tempting me to travel... I WANT...!!! please bring me along... :P

  25. Is the lady in the poster Laotian? (Is this how we address people of Laos?) I actually came across that poster before, saw it at the pasar malam at my hometown, it was indeed eye-catching and was sold as soon as it was put on display. Saw that a young guy bought it.

  26. omg u've been hanging out with terrorists and smokin! LOL