This travel blog is about the top things to do in Luang Prabang, Laos with information on how to get there.
The UNESCO World Heritage ancient city of Luang Prabang boasts a fusion of colorful culture and tradition, savory cuisine, burgeoning contemporary art, hip cafes, storied structures and temples. All that plus most of all – lovely people. Spending a few days here just immersing on the over-all laidback vibe of the historical district will certainly gift you a wonderful set of travel memories. To further maximise your trip, here is a simple guide on the many things to do in Luang Prabang.
Climb Mount Phousi
(photo by Marky Ramone Go)
What better way to get acquainted with the city of Luang Prabang than to view it from the top. Worry not, because it only requires 355 steps to scale the peak of Mount Phousi, where a small wat (temple) is also located. From the top, you will enjoy a 360 degree spectacular panoramic image of the quaint town below, the lush countryside surrounding it and the mighty Mekong River that divides the stunning landscape in the middle.
Buy some good finds at the Night Market
Come night time, the road in front of the Royal Palace becomes filled with small stalls selling interesting items from local products such as woven items, traditional clothing, elephant shirts and pants, art works, local wines, silver ware and many more. These nightly kiosks stretches to almost 300 hundred meters. Looking for unique souvenir items to remind you of Laos? This is the place where you can find some good bargained mementos.
Chill at the Quaint Cafes
Almost all of the heritage houses inside Luang Prabang’s historic complex carefully went into a conservation process to retain its original architectural beauty. Today, most of these structures are operating either as hotels or cafes and restaurants. Providing a charming and wonderful ambiance in both the interior and exterior, the many cafes here provides the ideal place to just chill and unwind. Enjoy a cup of brewed Lao latte or a bottle of Beer Lao while you people watch. One extraordinary joint is Utopia, a favorite hangout of most travelers. Here, you can just lay on a bean bag and enjoy the spectacular view of the Mekong River.
Go on a Spiritually Enriching Wat or Temple Hopping
Rent a bicycle and just pedal yourself all over the historic town and better yet, stop by the many Wats (temples) you will pass by along the way. Make sure to drop by the Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Wisunarat and Wat Long Khoun, just to name a few. Walking barefoot inside these temples to pay homage to the good karma that brought you to Luang Prabang, is a great way of appreciating the local’s way of devotion.
Hike to Kuang-Si Waterfalls
This side trip from Luang Prabang, takes you a couple of hours into the scenic countryside for a short hike to a three-tiered cascades highlighted by a 200 feet main waterfall drop. The crystal clear waters of Kuang-Si will surely entice you to take a dip at one of its natural pools. This is the best place to spend half a day to relax with nature. A few strides from the Kuang-Si Waterfalls, is where the Free the Bears Sanctuary is located. This place serves as the rehabilitation center of mostly Asiatic Black Bears.
Dine by the Mekong River
Another fantastic way to enjoy the Laotian local cuisine is to dine at one of the many dining spots situated by the river. A lot of riverside restaurants and hotels have set-up fine eating places mostly surrounded by a small garden near the banks of Mekong. The ambiance here surely fashions a memorable culinary experience.
Visit the Royal Palace and Museum
(photo by Marky Ramone Go)
The bright colored murals depicting local Laotian life and culture and coupled by the intricate architecture, makes the Royal Palace a worthy landmark to visit. Located imposingly beautiful just within the center of the historic district, take your time to wander aimlessly at its vast grounds. Make sure to also check out the museum, so you may pick up heaps of new knowledge about the fascinating history of Laos.
Enter the Pak Ou Caves
Experience a solemn journey to Pak Ou Caves where you will see countless Buddha statues and shrines in various shapes and sizes. Considered as a sacred site, this is where many Laotian go to pray and even attend the ceremonial washing of the Buddha figures. Situated on a scenic hill overlooking the Mekong River, it entails visitors to board a small boat and glide through the scenic River before reaching the Pak Ou Cave systems.
Witness the Tak Bat (Early Morning Alms by the Monks)
Waking up before 6am has never been so meaningful, as you witness this unique ritual of the monks in Luang Prabang, walking on the side streets to quietly receive their daily alms. The Tak Bat provides a truly humbling experience, as you observe how the monks and the devout local worshippers of the Buddhist faith, consistently practice this tradition in a solemn and kind-hearted manner all these years.
These are just some of the many absorbing things a traveler can do while in Luang Prabang. There are tour offices located within the cities who can also arrange for you to visit nearby communities and learn about their local products, or you can also opt to indulge in a Laotian cooking lesson. The choices are aplenty in Luang Prabang for travelers with a curious mind. Enjoy your trip and embrace all the cultural, historical, gastronomical and even adventure offerings of this charming city.
How to get to Luang Prabang: Luang Prabang is served by Air Asia, Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, Lao Airlines and PB Air, with daily flights to and back from Bangkok, Chiang Mai in Thailand and from the Laotian capital city of Vientiane.
By Land: You can take a bus from the Southern Bus Station or a van going to Vientiane (travel time: 10 hours), Vang Vieng (travel time: 6 hours), Xieng Khouang (travel time: 8 hours) and Luang Namtha (travel time: 8 hours).
LUANG PRABANG AND VIENTIANE:
LUANG PRABANG AND VANG VIENG:
About the Blogger: Marky Ramone Go is a regular contributor at Inside Southeast Asia.