Luang Prabang located in North of Laos, nestled at the Mekong confluence and the Nam Khan River, is considered as the cultural capital. With cultural tradition and serene charm, the city is described as the Jewel of Laos. You cannot come to Laos without devoting a few days to explore. What will you do in Luang Prabang? Here is a guide to help you get the answer. We choose 10 best things to do in Luang Prabang that highlights the cultural, natural, and historic attractions.
About an ancient capital in Laos – best things to do in Luang Prabang
As the jewel of Laos, Luang Prabang is an ancient capital created during the Lan Xang Kingdom time (in 14th century). This is the first country accredited by UNESCO, which is sparse in population. Luang Prabang is believed the heart of Laotian culture, where we may find all conventional wooden houses, quintessential structures, colonial architecture, and more than 30 temples.
Additionally, the city is a laid-back small place where tourists probably relax while taking a soothing stroll around the old quarter. They also discover a bunch of natural sites such as the Pak Ou, the picturesque waterfalls, and the Mount Phousi.In essence, Luang Prabang is a charming city where visitors have to travel to it at least once during the Lao’s trip.
What will you see and do in Luang Prabang?
Stroll around all ancient alleys
As a UNESCO World Heritage since 1995, the city presents an exceptional combination of traditional architecture and western structures during the French colonial era (between the 19th and 20th centuries).
Moreover, we can stroll without thinking of daily life through the alleys. From traditional houses to Laotian Buddhist temples, all pieces of architecture are well-preserved in the old district of Luang Prabang.
There are a lot of restaurants and shops are located in two-story houses. With its alluring beauty, the city remains a unique paradise in Southeast Asia.
Attend the Tak Bat – A ceremony for Buddhist monks
Tak Bat is a long-standing traditional art in Laos. This ceremony is available every day in the sunrise, which we can see the show in the main street and other side streets. The image of barefoot monks in saffron robes selecting little sticky rice balls from locals is the most typical scene in Luang Prabang.
The ceremony often starts at sunrise, it is a good idea to be there before monks arrive. The ceremony has many programs inside, including fresh fruits, traditional snacks, and rice. Tak Bak highlights a picture of the Lao’s culture and tourists can enjoy the serene atmosphere.
Visit religious temples
Luang Prabang has 33 ancient and beautiful temples, providing a deep feeling, and a relaxing atmosphere in Laos. The most famous temples are Wat Xieng Thong, was built in 1559.
This is the biggest temple in Luang Prabang. It has all features of Laotian architecture from the 16th century with carved wooden and several motifs. Along with Wat Xieng Thong, you ought to visit Wat Sensoukaram, Wat Mai, Wat Xieng Mouane, Wat Wisunarat, and Wat Long Khoun.
Discover the Royal Palace Museum
The Royal Palace Museum was the residence of Sisavang Vong King and his family in the French colonial era. Constructed at the beginning of the 20th century, it has a great combination between French architecture and other accents of Laotian culture.
The museum also features many treasures from the kingdom of Lane Xiang and other precious presents. For example, you will find the Haw Phra Bang temple, where the famous Phra Bang Buddha statue belongs to the Sisavang Vong King. For culture and history lovers, the Royal Palace Museum is truly a must destination on the list “what to do in Luang Prabang?”
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Contemplate a panoramic view from Mount Phousi
Mount Phousi is the highest hill in Luang Prabang because it highs 100 meters above sea level. After reaching about 300 steps, you will have an opportunity to discover a superb panoramic view of the whole city, Mekong area, and surrounding mountains. This is also a perfect place for catching sunrise and sunset times. The hill will become a magical image.
You can go around enjoying golden pagodas and getting unforgettable experiences during the journey. Mount Phousi is a sacred site for Buddhists. Halfway to the hill is Wat Tham Phousi and the golden Wat Chom Si on the top, where visitors could buy flowers and caged birds to getting blessings.
Enjoy the waterfalls
From 30 minutes to one hour (from the city), there are picturesque waterfalls in Luang Prabang – Tad Kuang and Tad Sae.
The Tad Kuang Si waterfall is taller and more photogenic than the Tad Sae. It also has much more beautiful with blue water than the counterpart. In essence, Tad Kuang has three levels with a final fall falling into shallow pools. At that place, tourists can jump into the swimming spot. In Tad Sae, the fall is not high but there are many water streams of water flowing over limestone configuration. For natural lovers, they cannot skip these two falls in their journey lists.
Discover the Pak Ou caves
The Pak Ou caves are known as the Buddha Caves, these are also home to thousands of Buddha statues. They have been left by worshipers from everywhere. Nested in a limestone cliff, where the Mekong River comes to the Nam Ou River, it is one of the most important places in the region. You can visit two main caves in the Pak Ou. The low one is called Tham Ting and the upper one is Tham Theung. Both have sanctuaries for the Buddha spirit. The upper cave is the house for several hidden statues.
Take a boat ride on the Mekong River
When having a trip to Luang Prabang, you should add this activity to your list. Taking a boat ride on the Mekong River may give you something to enjoy and learn. No matter you select a traditional local boat or a luxury boat; you will feel that the Mekong River is the largest one in Southeast Asia. During the trip, you probably find the green countryside of Northern Laos, watch the fishermen pull their final nets, and see the sunset. Life in Laos is so peaceful!
Taste the local gastronomy
In your trip to Luang Prabang, it is not difficult to taste the local cuisine with some subtle flavors of French gastronomy. The street foods, on the other hand, it is located in the night market, where backpackers always come to. Most of the local night markets have narrow alley, locals show a lot of dishes such as fish and vegetables served with Laotian sauce, grilled meats, and Lao spicy soups.
Laotian beers, local pancakes, and French baguettes or sandwiches are also available in these markets. Foods and beverages are simple to find, but seats are not. You have to share it with others. Therefore, it is better to go with a group of travelers. This is also a tremendous chance to share experiences in this country and other things.
Mingle with locals at the markets
Laos and other nations in Southeast Asia always have local markets and these places are perfect to learn local cuisines and their daily lives. Luang Prabang also has many morning markets and night lives.
If you cannot take up early in the morning, you will change your plan – getting to the night markets. Most of the night markets take place between 5 pm and 10 pm every evening in the center city. When being there, do not forget to bring your wallet because you have to buy something such as clothes, wooden sculptures, pieces of jewelry, and souvenirs. Fill your stomach with inexpensive local street food is possible! Visitors may also take nice photos in the markets.
When will you go Luang Prabang?
There are two main seasons in Luang Prabang – the dry season (from November to April) and the rainy one (between May and October).
In the dry season, the service prices are highly expensive and all destinations are crowded. This is also the peak tourist season in Luang Prabang and others in Laos. Do not come to Luang Prabang between March and April if you feel tired in the hot season. The average temperature is 40 degrees in Celsius. As a smart visitor, make a plan to Luang Prabang between November and January. Your trip will be much more pleasant.
Waterfalls have water during the rainy season, and fewer tourists love this period. Furthermore, service prices are low. There are also showers in the afternoon for visitors but they are available in some hottest days. August and September are the rainiest months and floods occur in the Mekong River.
You have full of answers to this question “What to see and do in Luang Prabang”. Getting answers at your fingertips, you should select some activities on your list. We hope that you can prepare everything well for your trip to this city in Laos.