Luang Prabang, Laos
In all the lands of Southeast Asia, there’s a fusion of cultures, a diversity of people, a range of cuisines and an inherent religious tinge to most things. In Luang Prabang, Laos, there’s more than that! It’s a land with ecological diversity, built-in traditions, golden-roofed temples, colonial architecture, traditional ceremonies, quiet streets and friendly locals: all against a backdrop of some of the most rugged and majestic mountains in Southeast Asia! In my opinion: It’s basically one of the best places Southeast Asia has to offer!
Luang Prabang is a UNESCO Heritage site. When visiting Luang Prabang, you may want to start your day off early and take some colorful snaps of the alms giving ceremony as priests in burnt sienna robes collect alms from the local residents.
Following this, one can meander down the picturesque streets enjoying the views of golden-roofed temples, teak balconies and beautiful buildings with a distinct Euro-French provincial adaptation to them! On your stroll, don’t forget to take some time to inhale the sweet perfume of the multi-hued frangipani flowers and enjoy the serenity this charming little town has to offer.
What to See and Do in Luang Prabang
- The Town: To be honest, there’s no town quite as charming as Luang Prabang in the whole of Southeast Asia! Enjoy the mingling flavors of coffee, spice and everything nice as you meander through the picturesque streets of Luang Prabang and take in the vibrant sights of mountains, temples and quaint colonial buildings! For an amazing view of Luang Prabang, you might want to climb Mount Phousi, where you can watch the city against the backdrop of the setting sun. Beautiful!
- The Alms Ceremony: The Alms collection ceremony, where monks in saffron robes collect sweet rice and fruits from local residents and tourists, is simply breathtaking. Wake up before dawn if you wish to participate, and either take your snaps unobtrusively or keep your camera away (the monks don’t like tourists taking pictures of them day in day out).
- The Wats (Temples): The best of Luang Prabang’s temples are the Wat Sene (the oldest Wat) and the Wat Xiengthong, which is a true representation of what Laotian architecture is! Others include Wat Visoun, Wat Mai and Wat Aham. If you do climb to Mt. Phousi at sunset, you’re bound to enjoy the gleam of the setting sun on the roof of Wat Xiengthong.
- The Mekong River: The Mekong River with its early morning spice markets and multi-hued costumed folks is a sight not to be missed. To make the most of Luang Prabang, why not take a cruise upstream of the river and enjoy the beautiful views of the Laos countryside? Once you make it to Pak Ou Caves, don’t forget to take a long look at the gold-lacquered exotic Buddha statues!
- Kuang-Si Waterfalls: Take a ride to the Kuang-Si Waterfalls and frolic with style in the sun-sparkling turquoise waters! The surrounding forest is very calm and peaceful: you’ll feel at one with nature.
- The Shopping: Luang Prabang has an exotic night market that cannot be missed! Quaint and colorful, this market offers lovely local hand-crafted textiles. There’s no element of a hard sell here, so try not to bargain too much: it spoils the atmosphere! Beginning at sunset, this market begins from the Royal Palace Museum on Th Sisavangvong to Th Kitsarat.
- The Food! Luang Prabang has its fair share of gastronomical delights: both local gourmet meals and continental flavors! For typical Lao cuisine, try any of the food-stands and restaurants along the Mekong River. The Main Street Restaurants, on the other hand, offer a variety of cuisines for the tourists. Some restaurants to try out include: JoMa Bakery Café, Lao Lao Garden, Somchanh Restaurant, Blue Lagoon Restaurant, Big Tree Café, Saffron Caffè, Le Banneton and L’Elephant.
Where to Stay in Luang Prabang
With its recent popularity due to its charm and tranquil nature, Luang Prabang has varied accommodation for all: from backpackers to luxury tourists. Some ideal spots to stay are:
- The BelleRive Hotel – On the riverfront, this hotel offers awesome views of the Mekong River and is tranquil and serene!
- The Lotus Villa Hotel – Located in the heart of Luang Prabang, this hotel is surrounded by Laos-style buildings and temples. Perfect for a somnambulant stay in Luang Prabang!
- The Villa Maly – Reasonably priced, this hotel is in the city centre with most historical sights a mere stone throw away!
Guesthouses in Luang Prabang
- Thongbay Guesthouse Luang Prabang – Great guesthouse located on the river, close to the airport, just outside of the city. Rated Fantastic out of over 80 reviews.
- Oui’s Guesthouse – Good location, not too far away to walk into the city center. Delightful staff. Rated Fantastic.
- Luang Prabang Bakery and Guesthouse – Located in the heart of Luang Prabang, features air conditioning, high speed internet and its restaurant offers mouthwatering deserts!
- Relaxed ambience, colorful traditions, interesting Laos-French architecture, smiling folks, ecological diversity: that’s what Luang Prabang is all about!
- There’s a night curfew at 11.30 p.m., so if you’re looking for a city with a vibrant nightlife, this is NOT it!
- With few cars and no buses, transport is limited to bicycles and walking, which is why Luang Prabang is not for those who cannot walk a mile in their shoes!
There’s no way you can visit Southeast Asia and leave out Luang Prabang! To start preparing for your trip to Luang Prabang, why not check this out?