5 Things To Do and See in Luan Prabang

Luang Prabang or Louangphrabang to the locals, is one of the largest cities in Laos with a population of about 103,000 people.

The city is the capital of the Luang Prabang Province. It is located in north central Laos, at the intersection or confluence if you like, of the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers.

Luang Prabang still carries the scars the communist left when they took over in 1975 with many of its buildings and sites still carrying graphic images of being peppered by bombs and bullets.

Before that the Kingdom of Laos used it as its royal capital and seat of government. The city is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Here are our top five suggestions of things to do in Luang Parabang:

Taking the view in from Mount Phou Si

Luan Prabang

Luan Prabang

Mount Phou Si is the highest hill point in Luang Prabang and takes about a casual eight to ten minutes hike up its stairs.
Also known as Mount Phu Si, this 100m high hill is in the center of the old town of Luang Prabang and is bordered on one side by the Nam Khan River and the Mekong River on the other.
Mount Phou Si houses several Buddhist shrines and is considered a local religious site. Buy some love birds or sparrows from the mountain base and take them to the top and release them. It is said that this will bring you good luck. And good karma for that matter.

If you prefer to drive yourself, motorbikes are available for rent in Luang Prabang. If you are not used to driving on the right, Luang Prabang may not be the best place to learn, with traffic slow but unpredictable. A better bet for the uninitiated is to rent a bicycle, which are cheap and environmentally friendly. For the most part however, you will find getting around on foot the best way to see Luang Prabang.
There are no set opening times, but it is best to visit Mount Phousi during daylight hours. You will have no problem making your descent in the evening after viewing the sunset, however.

Feed the monks!

Feed The Monks

Feed The Monks

Everyday about 6am, young monks ascend into the city from over the 30 local Buddhist temples in the Luang Prabang Province, asking for alms donations from the locals and tourists.
They walk briskly down the main street of Th Sisavangvong, holding out their alms bowls in a parading fashion. This monk procession is quite a beautiful ritual to watch, if you can get up that early that is.

Alms giving begins on the main street of Luang Prabang before spreading out to all the side streets.

The Park Ou Caves and waterfalls of Kuang Si

Waterfall of Kuang Si

Waterfall of Kuang Si

Two of the most popular attractions surrounding Luang Prabang, are the Park Ou Caves and waterfalls of Kuang Si.
There are karst cliffs, tiny river islets and beaches lining along the Mekong which makes for a scenic journey when you head up to the caves, where there are figuratively a thousand buddha figurines.
They are placed here by the locals for devotion and is an active religious site. Then head down to the waterfalls of Kuang Si to take a swim in its crystal clear waters and soothing current. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, a journey here will be worthwhile for your mind, body and soul.

  • Tuk tuk to Kuang Si Waterfall
    Pro: The most straightforward and easiest ways to go. You can go and return whenever you want to.
    Con: Though the road to Kuang Si is nicely paved, you do feel ever bump in a tuk-tuk. Also not so comfortable for tall people.
  • Shared tuk-tuk – the cheapest way to get to Kuang Si Waterfall
    Pro: This can be one of the cheapest ways to get to Kuang Si.
    Con: You can wait a very long time for the touts/drivers to find people to join and he is the one who ultimately decides when you leave town. You also have to agree as a group on a set departure time from the falls.
  • Boat to Kuang Si Waterfall

Royal Palace, Luang Prabang

Royal Palace

Royal Palace

Built by King Sisavang Vong and his family in 1904 during the French colonial era, Royal Palace or known as “Haw Kham” officially, incorporates Lao and French Beaux Arts style in its architecture.
After the communists overthrew the monarchy in 1975,  the Royal Palace was then converted into a national museum.
Among the features of the palace is the Crown Jewels of Laos, the King’s reception room, a Buddha statue engraved with large elephant tusks  and three beautiful saew mâi khán, which are silk embroidered screens with religious imagery that was crafted by the Queen herself.
Out in the main courtyard you will find a huge statue of King Sisavang Vong too.

Luang Prabang is fairly compact and best explored on foot or bicycle. Most five-star hotels may offer scheduled shuttle service to/from the old city. Whether just going from one place to another or chartering for an entire day, these tuk-tuks come in very handy.

Shop at the night markets

Night shops at Luan Prabang

Night shops at Luan Prabang

In the evening at the end of the main street in the Luang Prabang city, an assortment of souvenirs, clothing, jewelry and Hmong village tribe handicrafts are sold by the street peddlers in a flea market setting.
Be prepared to haggle and bargain your way through, as most of these sellers are going to keep resisting your offers until it satisfies them.
Luang Prabang, a city ravaged by communism and civil war, but has bloomed as a tourist hotspot and cultural hub of Laos.

Every evening a kilometre-long stretch of road is closed to vehicle traffic and turned into a walking and shopping street while the market takes place. You have to reach Sisavangvong Road as usual with tuk-tuk.

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