When we travel, we search for hotels with character. Those who embrace the local culture, while also providing a unique and memorable experience. In fact, we dread staying in a boring cookie cutter hotel with a generic service and feel. But even more than that, we hate feeling separated from the very culture we came to experience. That’s why we loved our stay at the Silver Naga in Vang Vieng, Laos. This luxury hotel in Laos gave us everything we were looking for, plus some of the most amazing views we will ever remember!
A Hotel With a Real Local Connection
It’s easy to see as soon as you enter the Silver Naga that it is very much connected to the local community. Just the name alone “Naga” means water serpent here in Laos, and is a symbolic protector in Buddhist contexts.
Upon entering the lobby at the Silver Naga, you are greeted with an open and modern lobby that leads out onto a deck area looking out over the Nam Song River. Besides the smiling faces of the hotel staff, dressed in colorful traditional Lao skirts called a Sinh, you will notice photos of local people and important dignitaries.
We were lucky enough to meet with Rachel, the owner and executive director of the hotel. Originally from Australia, she has been fascinated with southeast Asia since she was a child and even focused her studies on it during University.
“Laos definitely fed my inquisitive adventurous drive to explore the unknown. Changing societies are inevitable but for me, Laos always seemed different – where the shifts were subtle.” – Rachel
She’s been living and working in Laos for over 20 years now. Her experience in the areas of indigenous research, social forestry, health, micro finance, and agriculture really helped her to build and understanding of the local people’s lives here in Laos, and a passion for their belief system.
Rachel’s Lao language skills are impressive! It has allowed her to to excel in the hospitality industry because she genuinely loves sharing her passions about Laos with visitors, while also providing valuable jobs to the local people. Our visit coincided with an important Buddhist event that was happening on property. While visiting with us, we could tell just how close her connections are with the locals, as many of them approached her to say hello and have a quick chat.
A Commitment to Those Who Built This Hotel…by Hand!
One of the things that struck immediately when talking to Rachel was just how special the Lao people are to her, and making sure that the hotel supports the community through jobs & ongoing education. In fact, the every part of this hotel was built by hand by the local Lao people, rather than using migrant workers. No concrete trucks were used…all the concrete was hand poured!
Another aspect to the Silver Naga that we appreciated was how well they treat their staff. The hotel prides itself on giving fair pay and opportunities to staff for development, in fact, they really encourage development and continuing education. The hotel also strives to ensure staff can balance school, work, and families — and they also offer maternity leave, back to work programs for new mothers, and annual reward bonuses.
As far as activities beyond the hotel, the Silver Naga strives to refer guests to trusted local operators and guides and do their best to avoid any corruption scheme (common in southeast Asia). They also recommend tours that operate in local villages and who also provide a percentage back to the village – even giving the money directly to the participating families!
It felt good to feel like we were in a place that valued the local people, believed in their potential, and helped leverage the tourism industry in a way that can benefit all the people…not just a few at the top.
To us, that alone made The Silver Naga a memorable place to stay.
A Modern Hotel with Lao Handcraft Touches
As far as the hotel design, the foundational elements are quite modern, but mixed with traditional and natural elements, like wood. In fact, there are hundreds of pieces of furniture all across the property that were crafted on-site by local artisans!
Many of the soft furnishings and accents in the rooms are also handmade, such as the silk pillows – which are colored with natural dyes by local villagers from “Saoban.” You will also find basketware that has been purchased by local handcraft producers.
Lastly, the toiletries at hotel are all-natural – even the soaps are made from coconut oil!
Who doesn’t feel luxurious when taking a shower with coconut oil soap!
The Silver Naga Has An Ideal Location in Vang Vieng…and THE BEST Pool!
Okay, so now let’s talk about why you are truly going to love staying at the Silver Naga. To us, when visiting Vang Vieng, Laos it’s all about the natural scenery.
What surprised us about Vang Vieng is that this incredible place is hardly on the mass tourism radar, yet it has some of the best scenery that you would find in much higher market destinations. I mean, the place is seriously like a postcard.
So for us, we wanted to soak up every minute of the majestic landscape during our visit.
Lucky for us, The Silver Naga not only has a convenient location in town with walking distance to nearby attractions (including the seasonal bamboo bridge) but it also has arguably the best views in all of Vang Vieng! And most of the rooms at the Silver Naga are perfectly arranged to take advantage of these views, including our room.
Relaxing in our room, we could gaze out at the Nam Song River during the day, and watch the sunset over the karst mountains across the way each evening. We were in love! Honestly, we never got sick of these views.
Laying in bed at night, through the sheer curtains I could even see the outline of the mountains illuminated by the moonlight. Simply breathtaking!
Grab a Drink and Enjoy that Pool
On a hot day in Laos, there is nothing better than taking a dip in a refreshing swimming pool. The Silver Naga has, in our opinion, one of the best pools we have experienced…and definitely the best in Vang Vieng.
The infinity style pool is located up on the second floor, so you actually get even better views across the river. I’ll never forget being perched lazily along the edge of this pool, with a drink from the nearby bar, and just gazing out at real-life postcard that was right in front of me.
If you feel like drying off for a bit, the take a nap on one of the nearby loungers on the sundeck or in one of the hammocks in the shade, overlooking the water.
This was definitely the highlight to staying at the Silver Naga! From the hot afternoon to the starry-filled sky in the evening, we never got tired of hanging out at the Silver Naga pool.
Yoga for Everyone
Another benefit at the Silver Naga are the yoga classes each morning and evening. Currently, this is the only yoga offered in Vang Vieng, and classes are reasonably priced…but on some evenings they are offered free of charge!
Taught by certified experts from all over the world, having a yoga class in their serenely decorated room is a great way to start your day or end it.
But the classes aren’t excluded to hotel guests. An added bonus for other people visiting Vang Vieng is that the yoga classes are open to guests outside the hotel. Even better, your class price includes entrance to that incredible swimming pool!
The Silver Naga’s Commitment to the Environment
The Silver Naga’s commitment to the environment is another aspect about the hotel that we really appreciated. All of the water at the hotel is heated with solar panels on the roof, and the hotel encourages reducing plastic bottle use by offering filtered drinking water free of charge to guests, so they can refill their bottles. Any plastic bottles that are trashed onsite are collected and recycled, with the money going back to the staff.
In addition, they separate wasted food for feeding livestock and composting in their organic garden.
Yes, there’s also an organic garden!
The food from the organic garden is used to make dishes in the onsite restaurant. But any additional food is purchased direct from local growers in order to encourage local demand, and promote the local economy.
Now That’s a Breakfast!
Speaking of food, another huge perk to staying at the Silver Naga hotel in Vang Vieng, Laos is the enormous breakfast that is complimentary with your room! And each morning your eyes will pop open when you see the spread set up in the restaurant.
From a wide variety of fruits, cereals, to vegetables and salads. There are also many wonderful pastries to choose from and a cook to order egg station with omelettes! Since we are in Asia, there are also some Asian breakfast dishes, like rice, noodles, soups, and even curry.
So it’s almost like a brunch, really.
Top it all off with an assortment of fresh fruit juices, tea, or some amazingly rich Lao coffee with a bit of sweetened condensed milk and your morning is started off just right.
We Loved Our Stay at the Silver Naga So Much – We Extended It!
Our visit to Vang Vieng was full of both outdoor adventure and relaxation. But it was our stay at the Silver Naga that really made the trip one to remember. I really can’t say enough about that perfectly appointed room, with amazing views…and that pool. Combining that with the bountiful breakfast, friendly staff, convenient location, and a meaningful connection to the local community, we actually ended up extending our stay at this hotel.
We just never wanted to leave. We felt at home, at peace. And our experience at the Silver Naga is part of what made us really fall in love with the charming rural town of Vang Vieng, Laos.
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