Where We Travel: Shannon Martin

Hi Shannon! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What brought you out to Shanghai?

I’m from the east coast of the U.S. (Maryland to Florida and points in between) but actually moved to Shanghai after 2 years in Spain. Knowing we wanted to keep exploring, my husband sought an international assignment with his company and I’d already become “location independent” work-wise. Lots has changed in our 3+ years here and I’m now working with a local company in addition to my freelance work.

Traveling around Asia from Shanghai is one of our favorite things to do. What has been your favorite place you’ve traveled to since you moved here? Can you tell us a little more about why you chose to go there?

It’s so hard to choose and I’ll put in a quick plug for my recent favorite, Sri Lanka (a must visit!). But, that’s a long flight from Shanghai, so a closer but no less special spot is Luang Prabang, Laos. We went after hearing friends rave about it and did a combined CNY trip to Hanoi, Halong Bay and Luang Prabang.

What hotel did you stay at? Did you like it?

The Mekong Riverview Hotel. Yes, it was amazing! Huge room with a veranda, breakfast every day on the Mekong River, free bikes plus a golf cart shuttle for when you were too lazy (or hot) for the short walk around town, and it was just a few blocks to the alms giving area and heart of town. Because the town of LP is a Unesco World Heritage site, the in-town options tend to be higher priced boutique hotels or small backpacker hostels. So, the price was steep for SE Asia but balanced out by the cheap prices we paid in Vietnam, and worth every penny.

What sort of activities did you do? What was your favorite?

The town had so many special nooks and crannies, I most enjoyed walking around, meandering through the temples and watching the monks and townspeople going about life. The morning and night markets were another fun (and tasty) way to be part of the culture. I got up before dawn two days for the alms giving and would highly recommend it, despite its popularity with camera wielders not very respectful of the tradition. I’ll always see the orange of the monk’s robes when I think of Laos. I wouldn’t miss the afternoon boat ride down the Mekong either–just the two of us taking in the life and scenery along the river.

Was this place easy to get to? How long would you recommend making a trip for?

It wasn’t too difficult. We went via Vietnam…an easy, direct flight to Hanoi and then a super short flight to LP. Most people will need visas for both, which you can get upon arrival (cash only). I think combining the two makes good use of time and a week (or slightly more) was perfect for that. I’d say you’d want at least 3 days in LP, especially if you want to explore natural sites like the amazing waterfalls outside of town. I could spend a lifetime there, though!

What was your favorite part of your trip?

Luang Prabang is one of a few, very diverse places I’ve been in my life which I feel share a certain magic. I just loved soaking in the silvery light over the Mekong and surrounding hills, dotted with the orange of the young monks at work and play.


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