Vientiane, Vang Vieng and Don Det are all pretty chilled places in Laos, but Luang Prabang is the ultimate city of zen. I’m not sure if it was the genuine smiles of the laidback locals, the lush green riverside or the peaceful presence of orange-clad monks wandering by, but Luang Prabang took me to a new level of chill. I spent most of my time here in a dreamy haze and although there’s so many things to do in Luang Prabang, I only managed to do about half of the attractions on this list myself.
I spent 3 lazy days in Luang Prabang and I guess you could say I fully embraced the laidback Laotian lifestyle. What I’m trying to say is, I didn’t do as much as I probably should have while here. Not unless eating crepes, drinking coffee, riding a bike and occasionally stalking monks counts? Honestly though, if I only have a few days in a place, I personally prefer to soak up the day to day ambience rather than visit all of the typical sightseeing attractions. But that’s just me.
For those of you who have about a week or longer to spend in this beautiful town, here’s a list of top attractions and all of the awesome things to do in Luang Prabang.
Climb Mount Phousi and Watch the Sunset
Mount Phousi (also known as Mount Phu Si) and meaning ‘sacred hill’, is more of a large hill than a mountain in my opinion. Hill or mountain, after climbing over 300 stairs to the top the panoramic views of Luang Prabang’s skyline will make the trek well worth it. There’s a small temple on the top that you can enter while waiting for an awe-inspiring sunset.
Make an offering at Tak Bat
Every visitor to Luang Prabang should witness the important local tradition of Tak Bat, which is the 5.30am daily tradition of locals paying alms to the monks. This is an incredible sight to behold of a single file line of orange-clad monks carrying bowls to collect their daily offerings. Locals and tourists place food (sticky rice), flowers and incense into their bowls. You’ll find locals selling packages for you to purchase as your offering near where the procession begins.
Drinks at Utopia Bar (& then bowling!)
Most travelers to Luang Prabang end up drinking an ice-cold beerlao at Utopia at some point during their trip. During the day, its a great place to chill out, read a book and even do some yoga. In the evening Utopia becomes the best bar and lounge with comfy cushions scattered about, a beautiful river view and a local and western food menu. When the party here ends abruptly at 11am thanks to the nightly curfew, head to the bowling alley where the party continues. A mix of tourists and locals gather at the bowling alley every night until 2am and just so you know, the whiskey is about $5 a bottle.
Trending Tours In Luang Prabang
Shop the Night Market
You can’t visit Luang Prabang without checking out its vibrant night market. In my opinion, Luang Prabang has one of the best night markets in the whole of South East Asia. Starting at 5pm and going on until about 11pm in the center of town. Hill-tribe craftspeople and local vendors set up stalls here selling intricate wood carvings, handicrafts, jewelry, clothes and other random souvenirs. Prepare to haggle with the friendly stall holders because bartering is expected.
Hire a bike
So simple, but as I discovered while in Luang Prabang, keeping things simple can sometimes be the best way to get things done. If you want to experience the chilled out daily Laotian life then hire a bike and ride down the winding lanes that you wouldn’t be able to get to on foot. You could also ride your bike to the Kuang Si Waterfalls, read more about this below!
Admire Kuang Si Waterfalls
Nestled in tropical jungle, the Kuang Si waterfalls are one of the main tourist attractions in Luang Prabang boasting a 50 metre cascading drop into three-tiered turquoise swimming holes. Set off early in the morning (wearing appropriate footwear) so you have plenty of time to go off the beaten path and hike up behind the falls and explore the hidden pools and other waterfalls a lot of visitors don’t actually know about. Stunning selfie opportunities await you! There’s also a small market at the entrance to the falls, stocking water, food and other souvenirs.
Visit Royal Palace Museum & Other Wats
The Royal Palace museum is the former royal residence and the perfect place to escape the hot Laos sun for a few hours while learning about Luang Prabang’s colorful history. Apart from the Royal Museum, there are other Wats (temples) worth exploring such as Wat Long Khoun, Wat Xieng Thong and Wat Wisunarat.
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Take a Laotian Cooking Class
Learn to cook traditional Laotian dishes in a full or half day cooking class. Most of these cooking classes start with a trip to the local market to shop for fresh produce (and wet your appetite). Most schools will provide a cookbook with the price of the class so if you have a terrible memory you can still attempt to make the dishes for friends and family back home.
Eat French Food In Southeast Asia
The French influence here makes eating and drinking in Luang Prabang a food lovers paradise. If you’re getting tired of the typical south east Asian diet of rice and noodles then Luang Prabang’s bakeries and French inspired cuisine won’t disappoint.
Visit the Pak Ou Caves
The Pak Ou Caves should not be missed and are one of the top things to do in Luang Prabang. Join a tour group or rent a motorbike and drive yourself to the port, then catch a local boat to the Pak Ou Caves to see the many Buddha structures of different shapes and sizes. While here you can soak up the scenery of the Mekong River too.
I hope that I have given you a glimpse into the many awesome things to do in Luang Prabang. Luang Prabang is possibly the most beautiful place that I visited while in South East Asia, so if you’re traveling to Laos you really must make sure you stop by!
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