Luang Prabang is the ancient city of Laos and also former capital of the kingdom with the same name. Here you will find history combined with lush and beautiful nature. Luang Prabang is also characterized by french heritage, which can be seen all over the city.
Here is my list with top things to do in Luang Prabang.
Kuang Si Falls
One of the world’s most beautiful waterfalls is located about 29 kilometers south of Luang Prabang. This is definitely one of the must things to do in Luang Prabang. The waterfall area is simply amazing with stunning turquoise water and lush nature surrounding the falls. Inside the national park there is also a sanctuary for Asiatic black bears, who is threatened in the wild by illegal poachers.
In the same area is also a butterfly park, this attraction is quite new and not yet so popular. However if you like butterflies it’s worth a visit.
How to get here: Hire a tuk-tuk for a couple of hours, he will be waiting for you at the falls until you are ready to go back to Luang Prabang. Expect to pay between 150 000 – 180 000 Lao kip. It’s also possible to book a tour, but in my opinion it’s way better to hire a tuk-tuk. In that way you are free to do whatever you want, and you could also go back whenever you want.
If you’re looking for views over the city, then head to Mount Phousi. This is a popular place to visit during sunrise or sunset, come early to get a good spot. You should also be aware that it’s around 300 steps to get to the top, but it’s totally worth it! The view from here is absolutely stunning.
The Alms Giving
Every morning (around 6 o clock) you will see monks leaving their temples to go on the daily route where the people give food to the monks, also known as “The Alms Giving”. This is a very peaceful and important part of the daily lives in Luang Prabang, and unfortunately some tourists have made it into a tourist attraction.
It’s important to show respect, because it’s a holy ceremony, and they are people, not a reality show. If you want to take a photo, please do it from a distance. It’s ok to participate in the ceremony if your intentions are good, but leave the camera if you’re going to participate. Like I said it’s a holy ceremony, and it’s not ok to be disrespectful and point the camera directly into the face of a monk (yes, I have seen it).
The Night Market of Luang Prabang is one of the most talked about night markets in South East Asia, therefore I had high expectations before I was going here. Surely it was a nice night market, but it wasn’t “that” special like some people make it sound like.
This is absolutely one of the best things to do in Luang Prabang, but if you like me have read other blog posts about Luang Prabang, which claims it to be the best night market ever, perhaps you should lower your expectations just a little bit.. And don’t forget to haggle!
It’s mostly a handicraft market with lots of great souvenirs, but they also sell touristy clothes like the mandatory elephants pants, that every tourist seems to be wearing all around South East Asia.
Address: Th Sisavangvong & Th Kitsarat.
Pak Ou Caves
The Pak Ou Caves consists of two caves, one lower and one upper cave. The caves are famous for the many Buddha sculptures. While it’s not one of the must things to do in Luang Prabang, it’s something to do if you have some spare time. The Pak Ou Caves is located about 2 hours upstream at the Mekong River. On the way back you will make a stop at the whiskey village, where you can buy some snake wine and lots of other “weird” wines and whiskey.
So a trip to Pak Ou Caves includes 3 things, boat trip on the Mekong River, a visit to the caves and the whiskey village.
The Living Land Company
Curious about how the food staple of South East Asia is grown and produced? Yes, I’m talking about rice! At The Living Land Company you get the opportunity to learn more about rice and rice wine. By visiting you will also automatically contribute to make it easier for ethnic minorities to get a job.
Adress: Khuangsi Water Fall Road | Ban Pongvang
Rent a bike and bicicle trough the Lao countryside
Luang Prabang is actually quite touristic, at least when you compare it to other parts in Laos. Thankfully it’s easy to experience some local authentic culture just by renting a bike and bicicle through the Lao countryside. You will be amazed by how different it is. The life on the countryside is more genuine and the people is also more friendly and happier.
This was one of my favorite things to do in Luang Prabang.
Wat Xhieng Thong
This is the most famous temple in Luang Prabang. The temple dates back to 1560 when it was built by the Lao King Setthathirat. It represents classic Lao temple architecture. However if you ask me there is lots of other temples in Luang Prabang that is more beautiful than Wat Xhieng Thong. It’s like they have taken it’s soul and made it into a money making temple (the government).
Entrance fee: 20 000 kip p/p.
Address: Khem Khong.
Lao people is in general very traditional and Buddhism is deeply rooted in their daily lives. In total there is about 34 temples in Luang Prabang, both smaller ones and bigger ones. If you’re temple hopping in the morning after the alms giving or in the afternoon, you will most likely hear the monks chanting inside the temple.
It’s a magical event to watch from distance, and it just makes you calm and peaceful. At some point while I was hearing them chant I asked myself, “how is it possible that they all sing so beautiful”, why can’t I say sing like that..
Some of the more famous temples of Luang Prabang: Wat Xieng Mouane, Wat Mai Suwannapumaram, That Chomsi Stupa, Wat Sensoukaram, Wat Mahathat och Wat Sen and Wat Hosian.
Remember to dress respectfully (both women and men). This means that you should be covered from your shoulders down to your knees.
Other things to do in Luang Prabang
Morning Market – A genuine and local market. This is not your typical market, and if you decide to go you might be surprised about the experience.
Boat trip along the Mekong River – If you’re going on the tour to Pak Ou Caves a boat trip on the Mekong is included. However if you don’t do that, it might be an idea to take a boat trip along the river with the classic long tail boats.
Spa & Massage – While this is still a new thing and not an ancient art like in Thailand, you could still find some places that offers value for the money, and a good spa treatment and massage.
Chompet – A small town on the other side of the river, who displays a more authentic side of Laos compared to Luang Prabang. Remember to show respect, the locals here will not accept impolite tourists.