10 Things to do in Luang Prabang Laos

Luang Prabang Things To Do

The ancient city of Luang Prabang in Laos is one of the must-visit places in Asia before it turns into another common tourist place. Since opening up to tourism in 2008, thousands of travelers have visited this place where time still stands still.

In other words, there is no modern development allowed here making this one of the true and original tourism destinations in this part of the world.

For me, I was very fortunate to have the opportunity in exploring this incredible destination when it first opened up to tourism back in 2008, and here are some of my recommendations.

Things To Do In Luang Prabang

On my inaugural visit here, I had a chance to explore and experience the best of Luang Prabang which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so here is my list of 10 things to do in Luang Prabang in no particular order.

Luang Prabang what to do
A monk passes one of the popular temples in Luang Prabang
1. Explore Luang Prabang Town

Explore this beautiful and well-maintained town on foot to see the amazing heritage buildings in traditional Lao and Dutch designs which take you back in history.

Hotels, restaurants, cafes, and guesthouses utilize these buildings for their businesses around Luang Prabang Town and one can easily do all of this by foot.

There are absolutely no modern buildings or anything above two floors in this unique town, making it as original as it was 50 years ago.

The thousands of Buddha statues in Pak Ou Caves, which is also known as Buddha Caves
2. Visit the Pak Ou Caves

This highly popular tourist attraction is simply known as the Buddha Caves and is a must-visit for all travelers coming to Luang Prabang.

The sub-highlight is a 25-kilometer scenic river journey that will be something to remember. You will get to see everyday life along the great Mekong River on route to the caves.

At the Pak Ou Caves, thousands of Buddha statues are placed inside the caves which are an amazing sight. Go early to avoid large crowds and entrance fees are required.

Night Bazaar Luang Prabang
What the night markets in Luang Prabang look like.
3. Indulge at the Luang Prabang Markets

There are three markets around Luang Prabang town but the most popular would be the daily night market which is another must-visit for everyone.

Unlike the common markets we are used too, the Luang Prabang Night Market is filled with lots of craft and silverware. This is also the best place to get souvenirs.

Alternatively, there is the Hmong Market in the day which is in town where you can also get some decent souvenirs too. For art lovers, do check out some of the local paintings sold around town.

A must-try is the Luang Prabang Coffee which is amazing!
4. Eat local Lao Food

Lao Food in Luang Prabang is relatively safe for everyone's consumption. Try the local baguettes that are sold around town. Honestly, they are tasty and filling for a very affordable price. 

Make sure you get the baguettes with the local Lao Coffee which is reputed to be one of the best in the world. I did, and I have to agree on that claim. 

Also, when you are in the town area, try various local Lao restaurants that are located along the Mekong River roadside. For a fusion of French and Lao cuisine, try the upmarket L'Elephant Restaurant in town.

Luang Prabang Whiskey Village
How Lao whiskey is made at the Luang Prabang Whiskey Village
5. Visit the Lao Whiskey Village

Known as Ban Xang Hai, this Lao village is on route to Pak Ou Caves where boats make a 30 minute stop here. You can also visit this interesting craft village via road from Luang Prabang town.

Highlights here are the local whiskey or Lao Lao were all sorts of snakes, insects, and bugs are fermented and mixed with the whiskey and sold in various shaped bottles.

Lao Silk is also woven live in front of you by the locals. You can also buy fabrics and other crafts here.

Phousi Hill Sunset Photo
A sunset at Phousi Hill when I was there
6. Climb Up Phousi Hill (Phu Si)

Also known as Chomsy Hill or Mount Phousi, this easy to climb hill serves as one of the best spots in Luang Prabang to catch the amazing sunsets or view the entire city.

A temple is also located up top while there are two ways of getting up to the very popular hill. One entrance is from the main street in town while the other is a trail behind the Ethnic Museum in town.

I will recommend visiting Phousi Hill in the evenings just before sundown, and there is a minimal entrance fee to get up the hill. 

Grand Temple Luang Prabang
Wat Mai, the grand temple located along the main street of Luang Prabang
7. Get to know the many Temples, Wats and Stupas

There are 30 or more beautiful Lao temples located all around Luang Prabang Town so you can easily visit any of them on foot.

The most popular of them would be Wat Mai which is on the main street of the town where it was recently refurbished.

A walk around town will also take you to various other temples and Wats there. Check out some of the temples with schools for the younger monks where they learn woodwork, painting and also English.

8. Tad Sae Waterfalls

For nature explorers, various tours or trips are offered to this beautiful waterfall which is located in a park and about 13 kilometers from town.

There is an entrance fee of KIP 8,000 into the park where restaurants and facilities are available, and most tourists here will surely o for this tour.

The best time to visit the waterfalls is after the rainy season. During the dry season, the waterfall often has not much water so you may be disappointed.

Luang Prabang Golden City Temple
The Golden City Temple or Wat Xieng Thong in Luang Prabang
9. Get Mesmerized by the Wat Xieng Thong Temple

The Golden City Temple in Luang Prabang is probably one of the oldest and most important temples here which was built in 1560.

An entry fee of KIP 5,000 (US$0.50) is charged to access the temple grounds where you see fascinating architecture inside. This is highly recommended for any traveler.

Once inside, check out the detailed work on the main temple structure while various wall paintings have been restored to look amazingly beautiful. 

10. Elephant Riding and Trekking

The Elephant Park Project Area is located about 15 km out of town and in the middle of a wonderful mountainous surrounding.

The easy half day trekking (about 3 to 4 hours) will lead you out into a local Khammu village where you get an insight into the everyday life and culture of this ethnic minority.

Night Market at Luang Prabang
A scene at the local night market in town
Final Thoughts to the 10 Things to do in Luang Prabang

There you go, a list of exciting things that anyone can do when you are visiting this incredible town in Northern Laos. It is also suitable for all kinds of travelers and a very safe place too.

This list of 10 things to do in Luang Prabang Laos was compiled by me - David Hogan Jr from Malaysia Asia on my personal experience at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, and also based on the year 2008-2009.

I feel that not much has changed over the last eight years so go ahead and have a great trip here as you will not regret visiting Luang Prabang. 
10 Things to do in Luang Prabang Laos 10 Things to do in Luang Prabang Laos Reviewed by Malaysia Asia on Sunday, April 25, 2010 Rating: 5

13 comments:

David Jr said...

Thank you VBB, you really have done the Southeast Asian circuit in traveling. That must be really great.

David

David Jr said...

Thank you Ryan. Was a 10 day trip to Laos and it was amazing. Planning to go back again to see what has changed and such, but again, if you are planning, make it happen. You won't regret it.

David

Vinni said...

Secret Beach party in Luang Prabang All night rave

Hey people.
Short notice but there is going to be a
SECRET BEACH PARTY happening in Luang Prabang on 08/05/2010

Check this link for details
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=113152175392394

or this one if that doesn't work
http://www.vinnikiniki.com/beachparty.jpg

add me as a frend on facebook search for "vinni kiniki"

Also have fun in luang prabang and make sure you see the famous waterfall!
(don't pay more than 20,000 kip return otherwise your getting ripped off!)

Caz Makepeace said...

Great list of things to do David. I love Luang Prabang and Laos

Norbert said...

Thanks David! Great list... I'm dying to go there, so will consider those things for my visit.

Lilian said...

Will definitely try to visit someday! So near yet so far....

Expat in Germany said...

Great list! Laos is one of those relatively hidden gems. I loved it and agree with your list, although some of those caves have snakes in them which we didn't find out about until later.

Christy @ Ordinary Traveler said...

I love LP!! It was one of my favorite towns in SE Asia. Is the waterfall you mentioned in #8, the same as the Kuang Si Waterfall?

David Jr said...

Caz, thanks so much. Been 2 years since I last visited and need to make another trip maybe next year. Are you headed there anytime soon?

Norbert, best go soon before it comes commercialized. You won't regret it.

Lilian, AirAsia flies there :) It's really cheap too when they have promotions.

Expat in Germany - That's a new one though I never saw any snakes there. Great tip for those wanting to explore the caves.

Christy, thank you. No, Kuang Se and Tad Se are different waterfalls, 2 of the best around there.

Cheers,
David

Kelly said...

Awesome, thanks for this list!! I've been feeling pulled towards Asia for a while, though VERY intensely in the last couple of months. I'm planning on volunteering in Thailand in the coming months.. hopefully one day I can make it to Malaysia as well!

David Jr said...

Hi Kelly, I understand your urge to visit this part of the world and Luang Prabang is one of the great places to start before heading to other Asian countries. You will know why when you start at LP. Also hope you make it to Malaysia and please let me know if you are.

David

David Jr said...

Thanks guys for the comments and Luang Prabang is indeed a beautiful place to visit.

David

Anonymous said...

helo all of you;
very short, i don´t understand what´s the meaning of come to luang prabang before it comes to a comon tourist destination, i was here 1996, and when i arrived this morning my tears fell down, this city become a bloody tourist destination!!!!. of course they have all the rights to be a tourist destination, in my way i don´t feel well come now, 1996 i was very well come here, ho manage this?

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