Hi there! Before jumping right into our “Top 6 things to do in Luang Prabang”, let’s quickly introduce ourselves: We’re Stella and Mirko, a travel couple roaming Southeast Asia since Summer 2018.
Our story in brief: We quit our corporate jobs, left our apartment, sold all our stuff and squeezed our life into two suitcases (yes, we’re still traveling the old-school way! :-))
WHY LUANG PRABANG
Laos is a special country for us. As a former French colony, it has a unique Asian-European touch and taste (the best baguettes of Asia!).
In Luang Prabang, the two distinct cultures are merged in a well-preserved townscape: intricate buddhist temples, old colonial villas and a delicious Lao-French fusion cuisine. Thanks to its location between lush green mountains and two rivers (Mekong and Nam Khan), we were also bewitched by its profound natural beauty. It’s no surprise that Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995.
Tip: During winter (December-February), the nights can get pretty cold (10-15 degrees), so don’t forget to pack some warmer clothes. As we got used to Southeast Asia’s eternal heat, we almost forgot how a chilly evening feels like.
As it’s easy to get lost by all the activities that new places offer, we’ve curated our top 6 things to do in Luang Prabang for you!
1. WITNESS THE ALMS GIVING CEREMONY
Luang Prabang is the perfect place to witness the alms giving ceremony. In this daily ritual, locals are donating food to the monks during sunrise. We’ll always remember the warm smile of the monks when they caught eye of us. Witnessing their calm and peaceful morning ceremony was a very enriching cultural experience!
Tip: Since it’s a holy rite, you should keep your knees and shoulders covered. If you want to participate in the ceremony, but you’re not sure how to behave, just observe the locals or follow their instructions.
2. DISCOVER THE KUANG SI FALLS
Without a doubt, the Kuang Si Falls were our highlight during our stay. They’re located a 45-min (bumpy) ride from Luang Prabang and it’s a nice trip through a small village.
The waterfalls are embedded in a large national park. Our jaws dropped when entering the area: Among the thick, green jungle, water was cascading down into limestone pools, filling them with the most beautiful, turquoise blue water. The whole place actually looked like a fresh-water Caribbean paradise.
The area around the falls is ideal for a light (but slippery!) hike. We scrambled to the top of the waterfalls to experience the view. Thanks to the sunny weather, we were rewarded with an amazing panorama over the Lao countryside.
Sticky after hiking, we couldn’t wait to take a dip in one of the natural pools. We spent the rest of our day swimming in the refreshing water and showering in the torrents of the falls, blissfully happy. Scotty, beam us back, please!
3. VISIT WAT XIENG THONG (AND THEIR CUTE TEMPLE DOGS!)
Luang Prabang has around 33 temples but Wat Xieng Thong is the most beautiful and richly decorated. The temple has two entrances: one road entry through an intricate gateway and one Mekong River entry. The latter was formerly used by King Setthathirath in the 16th century. As the whole city of Luang Prabang has a vintage vibe to it, we could easily imagine him walking up the long, broad stairways to the temple.
Beside of its cultural heritage, Wat Xieng Thong is home to the cutest dogs we’ve ever met. We fell in love with the shy puppies who were following us through the area. So adorable!
4. CLIMB UP TO MOUNT PHOUSI FOR THE SUNSET
Mount Phousi is a viewpoint hill in Luang Prabang and although it gets pretty crowded during sunset, it offers amazing views over the city. If you’re an early bird, try to get there during sunrise as there are less folks.
Not only the view, but also the way to the viewpoint is a highlight: Narrow alleys are leading to the top, guiding you through a small village. We enjoyed watching the locals doing their daily business while walking up the hill.
5. VISIT & DINE AT THE NIGHT MARKET IN THE OLD TOWN
The night market is located in the old town of Luang Prabang. Here you’ll find a wide selection of colorful, handmade apparel, accessories and decoration. It was next to our hotel, so it became our daily routine to stop by.
We enjoyed the vivid atmosphere and especially the street food. Vendors offer baguettes with tasty toppings (avocado tuna!) and fresh fruit shakes.
However, our favourite stalls were tucked away on a side alley. You can find them near the main entrance on the left hand side of the night market. Food sellers are side by side offering mainly grilled, local cuisine. Try the Laotian sausage with papaya salad. Delicious!
6. TAKE A PRIVATE MEKONG SUNSET CRUISE
If you’re into romantic sunsets, make sure to book a private Mekong sunset cruise! Locals offer those tours along the Mekong promenade in the old town. You’ll likely get approached by a guide as they’re literally everywhere around the area.
We hopped on a boat for approx. 3.5$ per hour. It was roughly 30 mins before sunset and the river was full of life: People washing their clothes, children and monks swimming and having a good time. However, during sunset, the whole scenery came to a hold and a deep silence filled the air. As if everyone would pause for a moment, admiring the fiery orange glow over the horizon. A memorable sunset experience!
Ok guys, this concludes our “Top 6 things to do in Luang Prabang”. We hope you enjoyed our post. For more travel stories, visit us! See you there! 🙂
By Stella & Mirko from @journeytojunipero