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Meet your local guide, Singthong

| Words by Singthong |

We asked our expert local guide in Luang Prabang, Singthong, a few questions about Laos and life as a guide.

My real name is Van Sengsuda. My friends and our clients call me by my Laos nickname which is Singthong (it means Golden Lion in Lao). I am one of a small team of Insider Journeys local guides in Luang Prabang.

Singtong one of our expert guides in Luang PrabangSingthong one of our expert guides in Luang Prabang

Where do you live in Laos? And where did you grow up?

I was born in a small village called Pak Check. My village is in the Pak Ou district which is in Luang Prabang Province, in northern Laos.

I am lucky to know much of my history that is passed down through the family. I am Tai Lu so originally my ancestors came from Yunnan province in the southern part of China in the early 17th Century.

The Mekong River, just north of Luang PrabangThe Mekong River, just north of Luang Prabang

For how long have you been a guide in Laos?

I have been a local English-speaking guide for almost 13 years.

Morning alms collection in Luang PrabangThe markets of UNESCO protected Luang Prabang

What is your favourite part of the job?


The best thing to do in Laos is participating in daily real life activities. I like things like going to very local restaurants that serve everyday Laos cuisine, this can even be a freshly baked baguette for breakfast from a street stall!

This is banana and coconut dessertCuisine of Laos is complex and varied. This is banana and coconut dessert

History and countryside!

Laos has amazing countryside. Driving to Phonsavan the Plain of Jars from Luang Prabang take 7hrs through the windy and often bumpy road but the views are amazing. Once there travellers should take a few days to explore the mystery of the Plain of Jars, especially sites 1, 2, 3 is recommended. [Learn more about the mysterious Plain of Jars here].

Visit sites 1,2 and 3 of the Plain for Jars for an insight into Laos’ Neolithic past!

Where in Laos do you like to visit?

My favorite place in Laos is still Luang Prabang. It has a very charming and old location on the confluence of Khan and Mekong Rivers. The local people in Luang Prabang are very kind and generous, even if they are from different parts of the country.

The markets of Luang PrabangThe markets of UNESCO protected Luang Prabang

Lao cuisine is exceptional. If you had to name one, what would be your favourite meal and drink?

My favorite Lao food is sticky rice, it is the main crop of Laos and the main meal. Most of Lao people eat 3 meals a day. With every meal (soup, curries etc) you must have sticky rice. It goes with all Laos dishes! But I can’t just name one – I have two other favourites.

Lao cuisine - a national treasure. You will seldom find a dish that does not come served with a bowl of sticky rice

“Orlarm” is the typical food of Luang Prabang that is made from different meats; it can be chicken, pork or beef in a stew with many different kinds of vegetables. Herbs and vegetables often used are root mint, pea, eggplant, long bean, mint, shoots of chilli and pumpkin spring (that is a special ingredient originally included for the old King of Laos).

“Jaew” just means chilli sauce. Lao people have this with almost every meal – with sticky rice, of course!

What do you enjoy most about being a Insider Journeys guide?

I enjoy working as a guide because I love to meet with different people (they come from Australia, the UK, Australia, Canada, America and New Zealand) and learn from each other and share our ideas. Working as a guide I can work and travel through Laos at the same time!

Meeting a monk on the 7-day Laos Experience

Meeting locals in a coffee shop in Vientiane, over a round of petanque and over a local breakfast in Luang Prabang. In Luang Prabang I am really looking forward to a new tour which means crossing the Mekong River and watching the sun set over Luang Prabang. Most tourists do this from the other side of the river and it can get very busy!

The other side of the Mekong River. A sunset over Luang Prabang away from the crowds.

And finally, what do you like to do when not leading tours?

I like to play and watch football (soccer). The Netherlands were my team in the World Cup in 2014!

Would you like to know more?

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