The beauty of Laos is undeniable and nowhere is it more evident than in Luang Prabang. This small town is physically attractive but it also stands out for the friendliness of its people, and its relaxed way of life – take a closer look at the best things to do in Luang Prabang in our quick guide.
One of the best ways to start seeing the town is to take a trail around the many unique temples in Luang Prabang. There are over 30 temples to see, and most of them can be reached by walking from the center of town. Visiting the temples is also a good way to get in touch with the local community of monks. And as Luang Prabang is a UNESCO-listed site, there is a whole host of historic and cultural things to do. Read on for more ideas!
1) Visit the Waterfalls at Kuang Si
For an excellent start to a stay in Luang Prabang, take a trip to the lovely waterfalls at Kuang Si. You can reach these falls and the pools beside them by taking an independent trip on a tuk tuk, taking a tour, or going on a bike. There are a series of pools and falls to explore, and many places to swim and relax by the water. It’s a special place and a must-see in Laos and therefore very popular, so it is best to go in the morning if you want to beat some of the crowds.
2) Climb Mount Phousi
Another good way to acquaint yourself with Luang Prabang is to walk up the steep steps at Mount Phousi. There are 355 steps in all, with a viewing platform at the top, and a nice view across the town. It is not exactly a mountain, and is more like a little hill, so you can easily get to the top. The view allows you to see across the surrounding area so it’s a good way to get your bearings and see some of the wats from a distance.
3) Visit Wat Xieng Thong
One of the most impressive wats (temples) in Luang Prabang is Wat Xieng Thong. It was constructed in 1560 and is one of the most important temples in the country. It is a beautiful temple to look at and also houses some impressive paintings and murals.
4) Take a Look at Tak Bat
To get a hint of how life works traditionally in Luang Prabang, witness the alms ceremony which takes place in the early morning. This is a traditional, sacred procession through town by the monks who receive their daily alms. It is not a tourist spectacle, so if you watch you should do so quietly and respectfully.
5) Cruise on the Mekong
A Mekong river cruise is one of the best things to do in Luang Prabang. And the best time to do it is at sunset. It’s a highly relaxing experience, and all you have to do is sit back and relax. Watch the landscape drift by, see the animals in the fields and observe how the village people make their livings. The Mekong is the lifeblood of the country and you can’t miss a trip on this river.
6) Go to Luang Prabang Night Market
Laos is full of markets and one of the best is at Luang Prabang. The daily night market starts at 5pm as the sun starts to drop, and is full of interesting souvenirs and all the essentials you need for your trip. Do some bartering and get some bargains, or just take in the sights and sounds.
7) Be a Rice Farmer for the Day
Looking for something a little different? Try your hand at tilling the fields and be a rice farmer for the day with the help of the people at the Living Land Rice Farm. It is a unique way to experience everyday life in Luang Prabang. You’ll take part in the different stages of the rice production process and also help with plowing the field along with a water buffalo.
8) Take a Laos Cooking Class
Once you’ve helped grow the rice, cook with it at one of the town’s cooking classes. One of the best in the place is Tamarind, which offers a fun, accessible class where you prepare and taste some classic and special Laos dishes. If you take a class in the morning you will also be able to go to the local market to shop for the produce you need for your cooking.
9) Talk With a Luang Prabang Monk
If you are visiting a temple in Luang Prabang, don’t miss the chance to talk with a monk as many of them speak English and it is a good opportunity to find out a little more about their way of life.
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