Found in the North of Laos, across from Thailand, Luang Prabang is the port of entry for many travellers heading into Laos. Via long boat, or plane, you’ll end up in one of Loas’ most beautiful ancient towns. This UNESCO world heritage sight is home to some of the most beautiful buildings with many influences from Europe during the colonial era. This ancient city with its amazing food and beautiful aesthetic is the perfect welcome to Laos.
Luang Prabang definitely stole our hearts
How To Get There
Getting to Luang Prabang is relatively easy, the easiest of which, is flying. Next, would be to take the slow boat from the north of Thailand, there are several options you can take ranging from 3 day, to 2 day boat rides. If time is in your favour we think that taking the time to try the slow boat is a great idea!
Things to do in Luang Prabang
Kuang Si Waterfall
Luang Prabang is home to a variety of different waterfalls, but the most incredible one has to be Kuang Si Falls. Now since leaving on this trip, we have been known to chase waterfalls in numerous countries. Out of all the falls we have seen thus far, we must say that the Kuang Si Waterfall is up there and likely the most impressive one we have seen yet.
Located roughly 45-60 minutes out of the centre of town, you can reach this waterfall either by motorbike, or tuk tuk. Since we have experience with bikes, we chose to rent one and woke up early to beat the crowds… as always! What is so spectacular about these falls is not only the lush tiered beauty, and blue water, but the fact that you are actually allowed to swim in many of the different pools.
Altogether, to walk from the bottom to top will take you roughly 15-20 minutes. The further up you walk, the more and more beauty you will see. We highly recommend that you walk all the way to the top first, then make your way down. We found that actually many people were unaware of the fact that there were more falls up the trail, so keep walking! Entrance fee for the falls is 20,000 kip per person, so just keep that in mind before visiting.
f you fancy a panorama view of Luang Prabang from up high we strongly suggest you hike up Mount Phousi. 100m high, this small mountain viewpoint looks over the mountains of Luang Prabang, with views of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers on either side. The most spectacular time to visit is either for sunrise, or sunset where you can see the town below come to life. The hike up the hill itself is not too long, with various little temples and shrines located throughout. Entrance fee for Mount Phousi is 20,000 kip per person.
Asia is known for having some spectacular night markets, and the one in Luang Prabang certainly does not disappoint. The colourful night market is located in the centre of town and is filled with various local vendors from 5:00PM-11PM. Some of the most amazing handcrafted items, jewellery, art, and clothing are sold here. Always remember you can bargain for lower prices, just be respectful and polite when doing so!
Located just off of the night market, is a narrow alley way that serves up some delicious food. Easily missed, but definitely something to look out for, this alley way is a dream for budget backpackers. Halfway down the alley, you will see an all you can eat vegetarian buffet. For only $1, you pay for a bowl and fill up up with as much food as you want! A great place to stop for a meal and a cheap beer too!
We won’t lie, we had absolutely no idea where we were going to end up as we hopped on our bike to whiskey village. Fast forward 40 minutes later, with sore butts, we came to this somewhat abandoned village. Straight out of West World, this village had a number of different craft shops, with little to no people! At the very end of the village along the river was where we found the whisky. An old man there was ready to give us free shots to taste the different mixtures he made and show us how he created the various styles of whiskeys. While it was interesting, it was definitely quick! We bought a little bottle from him for only $3 and decided to ride home!
Monks at Sunrise
Before the sun rises, hundreds of Buddhist monks can be found walking through the city. It is quite a special sight to see and we definitely recommend you try to wake up early one morning to witness it!
A bowling alley? Yep, that’s right! This hole in the wall bowling alley is the hot place to be late night in Luang Prabang. All of the bars close at midnight in Luang Prabang, thus if you want to continue the party, the only spot that continues serving alcohol until 2am is the bowling alley. It is a fun spot to go if you are with a group of people! Sounds strange now, but trust us it will make sense when you’re there!
Things to do in Luang Prabang
Where To Eat
If you enjoy dining with a view and chill vibes you MUST try Utopia. Located with a view overlooking the river, you can relax on the floor with low tables and comfy pillows. Not only is the food extremely tasty, but at night this spot turns into the most popular bar around! They also have a projector screen where they play films in the evening. Overall, its a great place to either come chill by the day, read a book and relax, or party at night with your closest friends.
Now, generally as backpackers we try to stray away from the extremely western restaurants, however after walking past this cute little joint we couldn’t pass it up! We ate here a total of 3 times on our trip to Luang Prabang and each time did not disappoint! Coffee was great, and the Caesar salad at dinner totally hit the spot! If you are willing to spend a bit more, we highly suggest you stop by this place and try both their breakfast and dinner options.
We love a good cafe! Especially one where we can work and relax at the same time. Novelty Cafe is a great spot to catch up on some work, whilst drinking a fresh coffee, or juice. The cafe is also a used book cafe. People can either donate books, or walk in and take a book with an optional donation. They use the donations to donate to the local charity of that month.
WHERE TO STAY
This hotel was fantastic! At only $10 a night we had a spacious room, with a balcony overlooking the streets of Luang Prabang. Only a short 10 minute walk from the night market and right across the road from Mount Phousi the location was spectacular. They also offered us free breakfast which was really delicious and filling for a full day of exploration. Book your stay here.
In all, Luang Prabang was the perfect first stop for us on our Laos tour. Its peaceful nature reminded us a lot of Bali. Together with its French influence, the town of Luang Prabang definitely stole our hearts and was easily one of our favourite stops in Laos.
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