There are just so many things to do in Luang Prabang. Being the first UNESCO site listed in the country of Laos, the town offers a spectacular array of culture, nature, and of course, mouthwatering food. Even wandering the streets you’ll get a glimpse of life here.
Climb Mount Phousi
The first thing you should do after arriving in Luang Prabang is walk up the 355 steps to the viewing point on Phousi mountain. More of a little hill, you’ll find Phousi right in the centre of town, opposite the Royal Palace Museum. There is a little wat (temple) at the top, but you’re really here for the 360 degree panoramic views, a great way to get your bearings for the rest of your stay.
Tiptoe around a wat
There are dozens of temple complexes around town and visitors are welcome to wander around as long as they are respectful and cover up inside the buildings themselves. Make sure you visit Wat Xieng Thong at the northern end of the old town peninsula as this is where royal coronations traditionally took place. One of the more opulent complexes in Luang Prabang, the temples are covered in gold and intricate mosaics, and offer a fascinating insight into the Buddhist religion.
Climb Waterfalls at Kuang Si
If you do nothing else during your time in Luang Prabang, make sure you take a trip to the Kuang Si Waterfalls. You can get there by tuk tuk, bicycle or as part of a tour, and it’s best to go in the morning before it becomes too busy. The falls are in several stages beginning with a hidden jungle plunge pool at the top (which you can climb up to), and ending with a staggering series of emerald pools at the bottom to swim in. Oh, and there’s an impressive waterfall or two in between, often visited by playful monks who come to cool down in the heat of the day.
Be humbled by Tak Bat
This early morning alms ceremony has caused a fair amount of controversy in recent years, with many tourists being disrespectful and turning the daily event into a circus. The best way to enjoy the ritual of monk processions receiving their daily alms is to sit quietly on the opposite side of the street and discretely use you camera without a flash. The lines of bright orange robes against the whitewashed temple walls are quite a spectacle, and the whole experience is quite humbling.
Chill out at Utopia
This sightseeing is thirsty work and there’s no better place to unwind than the aptly named Utopia bar overlooking the Nam Khan River. Grab a chilled beverage and bowl of olives before settling down on your chosen colourful pile of cushions to enjoy the view. And relax. The friendly staff even encourage you to have an afternoon nap if you want!
Plough rice fields with water buffalo
One of the coolest things you’ll ever do is become a rice farmer for the day at Living Land Rice Farm just outside Luang Prabang. From taking part in all 13 stages of rice production and crushing sugar cane for the juice, to forging tools and weaving bamboo with the farm workers, you’ll definitely come away knowing the story behind those boil-in-the-bags you use back home! The best part has to be trying to keep up with Susuki the water buffalo as you plough a field, no easy thing when the mud comes up to your knees! And yes, you get to wear one of those conical hats!
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