Ten awesome things to do in Luang Prabang
There are many reasons to visit the town of Luang Prabang. But as a volunteer in this historic town along the Mekong river, you can experience all the setting has to offer, while working alongside local communities to address development challenges in the region.
Take advantage of your time in Laos by exploring some of the area’s natural and man-made heritage. We count down a few of our favourite things to do in Luang Prabang.
1) Visit Kuang Si waterfalls
Kuang Si waterfalls is often cited as one of the top things to do in Luang Prabang. It is located 32 kilometres south of Luang Prabang and makes for a great day trip to one of Laos’ most well-known natural landmarks.
It is the biggest waterfall in the area with three cascading tiers leading to a 50-metre drop into beautiful natural pools.
We recommend taking the scenic route by travelling by boat down the Mekong river before catching another for a short hop across to the falls.
2) Contemplate the Golden City Temple Wat Xieng Thong
Original photo: Basile Morin
If you are an architecture geek, this temple needs to be on your must-see list. Built in 1560, it is one of the oldest and most important temples in Luang Prabang.
The temple is renowned for its architecture: complete with elaborate mosaics, and beautifully restored wall paintings.
Wat Xieng Thong was also the location for the coronation of Lao kings and is still an important gathering place for significant annual festivities. The entry fee is only 20,000 kip (USD2.29).
3) Marvel at Mount Pousi at sunrise or sunset
If you want to see some of Laos’s natural beauty, head for the hills!
Mount Pousi is the highest point in Luang Prabang and provides a panoramic view of the town. If you want to avoid the entrance fee, wake up early just before sunrise and climb the 300 steps to watch the sunrise alongside the golden-spired Wat Chomsi.
4) Wander the Luang Prabang night market
Original photo: “Luang Prabang 026 Thanon Sisavang Vong, Night Market” by toastal is licenced under CC BY 2.0
If you are passing through Luang Prabang, make sure you stay long enough to visit the daily night market. It starts at 17:00 and ends at 23:00. The market begins at Wai Mai and runs along Sisavangvong Road all the way to the town centre.
It is the best place to find some really interesting souvenirs to take back home. You can expect to taste some delicious fruit smoothies, and fawn over intricate jewellery, traditional clothing and beautiful handmade crafts.
5) Witness the Almsgiving ceremony
One of the best places to watch the almsgiving ceremony is along the main road in Luang Prabang. The ceremony starts at sunrise as a procession of monks makes their way down from the temples to collect their daily meal from the local community.
Although this is a sacred tradition, travellers are encouraged to take part alongside local people. GVI volunteers are encouraged to participate in alms giving as it is one of the most immersive ways to experience the everyday culture of the Laotian people.
6) Traverse the Pak Ou caves
The Pak Ou, or Buddha, caves are one of the most respected holy sites in Laos.
If you are looking for something to do in Luang Prabang for the entire day, sign up for a scenic, 24-kilometre boat ride down the Mekong river, stopping at the famous Whiskey village for a shot of traditional Lao-Lao before arriving at the base of a dramatic limestone cliff.
The caves are packed with over 4,000 Buddha statues and are a shrine to the river spirit and Lord Buddha. Entry to the caves is 20,000 kip (USD2.29).
7) Eat local Lao food
When in Lao one must try the local cuisine. Luang Prabang offers a range of delicious dishes to satiate both the pickiest and most adventurous eaters.
Visit Lao Lao Garden for a free shot of Lao-Lao with your meal and a beautiful fairy forest backdrop. Aussie bar is a great option for travellers experiencing a bit of gastronomy home-sickness. For some French-Lao fusion try the upmarket L’Elephant Restaurant.
8) Try your hand at a cooking class
One of the top things to do in Luang Prabang for foodies is to take a traditional Lao cooking class. Tamarind restaurant offers one of the best and most affordable cooking classes in town.
If you book the morning session, it will also include a tour around the morning market. You can expect to pay around 215,000 kip (USD24.63) for a half day class.
9) Drink in a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The ancient town of Luang Prabang has been a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995.
If you don’t have a lot of time, spend a day just walking around the old quarter, marvelling at the numerous temples, learning about the Buddhist culture and visiting the old royal palace.
10) Enjoy a Mekong river cruise
We fully recommend a trip down the Mekong river at sunset. It is the perfect way to wind down after a long day of sightseeing and take in the natural beauty that Luang Prabang has to offer.
These are just a few of the amazing things to do in Luang Prabang.
GVI is an award-winning ethical volunteering organization committed to advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Find out more about our projects in Laos and how we are collaborating with local communities on various development challenges.
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