Canada Day with Kye Cole

Happy Canada Day!

Luang Prabang’s nightlife will turn red tonight at Utopia Bar & Restaurant as tourist and locals come to celebrate Canada Day in the city’s hotspot. There will be a Barbecue on a Cluster Bomb (one of the many from the Secret War in Laos) where we will be serving up delicious burgers and sausages. Drink specials will be colored like the Canadian Flag! If the weather holds out, there will be beach volleyball on the sand court!

Last year, a Kye Cole from Calgary, Canada (and now touring in Australia) stopped by for a week long gig which was a massive success, and Marcus Ryan the comedian stopped by for a session! Great Canada Day… check out the photos from last year!

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Special Drinks

Special Drinks

Utopia now has some new special cocktails that will make you very happy any hour of the day!  Try our refreshing mojito, our chili infused martini (one of the best in the world), and our unique 500ml bomb specials!  There is a reason Utopia is the most popular place in Luang Prabang, so come sit in our relaxing river view tropical garden lounge, grab one of our tasty drink specials and relax with a flavored shisha… day or night!

If you are having problems finding Utopia, follow the directions for the nice and easy walk on the neighborhood pathway.

Utopia is open from 8am for breakfast, and even earlier for yoga.

Zen by Day, Groovy by Night

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Utopia Yoga & Tai Chi

The new river view deck at Utopia is now open for morning classes… currently, we are offering Yoga and Tai Chi / Qi Gong as a healthy way to start your day.  Stop by after watching the alms giving in the morning with the monks, enjoy your exercise, then start your day with one of Utopia’s fantastic breakfasts.

As always, just come to Utopia to chill out, relax, read a book, play guitar, and enjoy the views. Zen by day, Groovy by night!

Namaste

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Rubgy World Cup

Before last week’s rugby world cup semi-finals match between New Zealand and Australia, a dark cloud of All Black’s fans in Luang Prabang descended upon Utopia. Breakfast and lunch consisted of beers, lao lao whiskey, delicious food, and a tribal face painting session in Utopia’s river view garden restaurant. Even one of our staff, Saifon, got painted up by the girls and joined in the All Black’s haka – the Maori War Cry.

This Sunday, the All Blacks will face off against France in the Rugby World Cup Finals match. The best place in to watch the game in Luang Prabang will be at The Aussie Sports Bar, where Stray and Utopia will be watching the french begging for baguettes as the All Blacks pound them into foie gras!

Go All Blacks!

 

Rugby face painting at Utopia

 

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Hip Hop Dance

Hip Hop Dance

Laos has a musical reputation for horrific karaoke-style music, only palatable to the ear by ingesting toxic amounts of warm BeerLao through the mouth. One group of teens in Luang Prabang is shedding the Casio synthesized drum rolls in favor of the groovy beats of stylish hip-hop music. The hip-hop music scene is picking up momentum with some of the local nightlife establishments who are getting people to dance to a different rhythm.

Hip Hop Helmets

Some customers from Utopia, one of Luang Prabang’s best bar and restaurants, went down to shoot some photography and video of the kids practicing their moves. Experienced older teens helped inspire and teach the younger kids new techniques and skills. In a city with very limited recreational activities for teenagers, embracing hip-hop as a form of art, body expression, music, fitness, and culture, is an important and healthy alternative.

Hip Hop Converse in Laos

In the past, the hip-hop dancers have performed at the Dara market which broke new ground for Luang Prabang’s typically conservative art and culture scene, and a Vientiane hip-hop group named L-Zone has recently been receiving awards for their new style. I sincerely hope this refreshing trend in Lao’s music scene will continue to gain momentum.

Utopia Bar and Restaurantwill soon add the hip-hop photos and video to their nightly selection of cultural clips and movies projected on their 100” screen. Drop by Utopia’s beautiful garden to see the free evening performances while enjoying dinner and drinks!

 

Hip Hop Back FlipHip Hop StyleHip Hop Mini KidHead SpinningHip Hop Posing

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Traditional Dancing in Laos

After a hiatus for several months, I spotted a familiar thin figure at the very end of the river view lounge decks at Utopia. The bald head with a shaved patterned mohawk haircut could be none other than my friend Nat Ka, who had spent many months photographing lifestyle and culture all over Laos.  The groovy relaxed atmosphere at Utopia bar and restaurant was a perfect place to showcase her small photo gallery.

Nat wanted to return personalized school books photos to the children out in the villages near Luang Prabang, and it was my job to drive the motorcycle. Our first stop was Ban (village) Pick Noy, a small village where they harvest river weed from the Nam Khan river, pound it into flat squares, add garlic and tomato slices and sprinkles of sesame seeds, and then leave it to dry in the sun. This delectable snack is best served with jaew bong (buffalo skin and chilli sauce), jaew makua (spicy eggplant sauce), or jaew maklen (spicy tomato sauce), and is one of the specialties served at Utopia restaurant and also sold at the night market food vendors.

While Nat was distributing her photos, I was snapping my own shots of the eager village children laughing and sharing their photos.  The news of the falang’s arrival spread fast, and ecxtatic children were streaming downthe  dirt streets to gather inside one of the houses.  Inside one of the houses, the children suddenly began to sing and dance a traditional performance which was an amazing surprise.

 

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PiMai – New Years Water Festival

At the confluence of the Mekong and the Nam Khan rivers, the coconut trees sway gentle in the calm breeze on Luang Prabang’s beautiful peninsula. Beneath the treetops, however, the scene is nothing less than pure liquid chaos during the Lao New Years celebration of PiMai, the water festival.

Fueled by adrenaline and copious amounts of free-flowing BeerLao, the makeshift H2O guerrillas flood into the streets on foot and from the back of trucks.  They wield water pistols, water buckets, colored flour, and wet charcoal and aim to increase the water content of every human around. Somehow, Miss Luang Prabang is spared the liquid fury from the gawkers as she is paraded down to Wat Xieng Thong for her crowning ceremony. From her heavy costume and even heavier makeup, she is still not spared from the sweat imparted from the relentless sun.

PiMai spans a day from the old year, a day from the new year, and a neutral day sandwiched in between, this year occurring between April 14th – 16th. It is a period to say goodbye to the old, and bring in the new, and Luang Prabang is the ideal place to experience this remarkable event.

Sabaidee PiMai!!

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Mekong Adventure Boat Launch

Mekong Adventure Boat Launch

From the banks of the Nam Khan river in Luang Prabang, Laos, three adventurous American guys launched into what is surely to be the ride of their lives. Over the course of 5 weeks, Daniel, Sam, and Zachary from the USA crafted a wooden boat named The Hounde, and intend to ride her all the way down the Mekong river through Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and finally out into the sea. They will be confronted with the rush of the Mighty Mekong river, submerged rocks, sand banks, swirling whirlpools, a 15 meter waterfalls, border guards, border conflicts, unexploded land mines, thirsty mosquitos and even thirstier corrupt authorities.

When these three guys strolled into Utopia Restaurant and Bar for a beer, I was immediately drawn to their charisma and passion. At Utopia, I like to promote an atmosphere conducive to arts, music, sharing, adventure, and helping people push their personal limits. These three guys, aged 20-22, put together a slideshow evening to promote their journey and raise some funds to deliver books and educational items to remote villages along their way. Tom, The Hungry Cyclist, donated a water filter, fishing rod, and other survival gear, and Utopia donated other items such as wine, whisky, and cigarettes that will be handy to share with the locals and get them out of potentially sticky situations. On Thursday, March 24th, the Hounde floated from the safety of the Nam Khan river into the mammoth Mekong. As they lit fireworks from the bow celebrating the long-awaited taste of the Mekong, I wondered if I would have the same young courage to embark on such a journey as they did… without cell phones, GPS, or other modern safety gear.

We wish the guys the best of luck for all the challenges that lie ahead, and we will update Utopia’s blog posts whenever they send news of their progress.

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Luck O’ the Irish

In true Irish spirit, the weather here in Luang Prabang has been cold and nasty, but it did not deter the throngs of wannabe Irish for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Utopia Bar & Restaurant! Cheeks were painted with shamrocks, green BeerLao was flowing, Irish car bombs were consumed, but sadly no leprechauns were seen dancing in the gardens…

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About Utopia

About Utopia

Hidden on the banks of the Nam Khan river, the aptly-named Utopia serves up the perfect place to relax in the popular UNESCO town of Luang Prabang, Laos.  Charming tropical gardens, impressive thatched river side decks, an interesting menu, and free wi-fi are transformed at night into a groovy jungle lounge with beach volleyball, eclectic music, bar- and boardgames, flavored shisha pipes, and an unbeatable atmosphere.  Incredible word-of-mouth has transformed Utopia into the best place in Luang Prabang. Don’t wait until your last day to discover this unique river side experience!

Utopia is a destination for meeting interesting people, sharing information and culture, investigate volunteer opportunities, play sports, enjoy live music, and appreciate arts and photography. A 100 inch projector screen displays evening movies and documentaries that focus on travel, education, environment, and adrenaline, as well as provides an outlet for people to share their journeys, videos, and photography.

Relax by the riverside lounge, read a book, challenge friends at boardgames, get sweaty on the beach volleyball court, play foosball, throw darts, build giant jenga, smoke a flavored shisha pipe, chill in the tropical gardens, teach english to the staff, look at the UXOs and bombs from the Secret War, grab the guitar or drums, peruse photography, enjoy an evening documentary, take a nap, eat amazing food, or sip a beer or cocktail!

Zen By Day, Groovy By Night

 

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