Laid-back vibes, beautiful temples and remains of French architecture – Luang Prabang is a city that I completely fell in love with. It has so many places to explore and discover, so spending a few days there is an absolute must when you come to Laos! In order to give you an idea of activities to in Luang Prabang, I’ve compiled a list of 13 things to do when visiting this beautiful city.
1. Kuang Si Waterfalls
Taking a trip to Kuang Si Waterfalls was one of my favorite activities when I visited Luang Prabang. Kuang Si Falls consist of three tiers, ending in a big pool in the most stunning shade of turquoise I have ever seen. I would recommend going quite early in the morning, as you will have to share this magical place with lots of other travellers otherwise. Walk along the many cascades of the waterfall and don’t forget to take a dip in one of the beautiful turquoise pools along your way! There even is a mini cliff you can jump off if you like (yeees, you can even do this if you are a little bit scared of heights like I am ;)).
2. Climb Mount Phousi
Mount Phousi is a small hill located in the center of Luang Prabang. It takes a little effort to reach the top, but you’ll be rewarded with a stunning panoramic view over the city and its many temples, the Mekong and the mountains in the distance. Mount Phousi is a popular spot to watch the sunrise or sunset, so it apparently gets quite crowded around these times – especially in the evening.
3. Watch the sunset over the Mekong
There is no need for a lot of words- just sit down somewhere along the Mekong and enjoy the spectacular sunset!
4. Chill out at Utopia
Utopia is a bar and restaurant nestled along the banks of the Nam Khan river (the town is surrounded by two rivers – the Mekong and the Nam Khan). Sit down, sip a drink (try the banana coffee smoothie – so good!) and enjoy the beautiful views from the deck. Then snooze off feeling the wind sweeping over your face…there’s no better way to spend a relaxed day in Luang Prabang! If you’re still there by nighttime, you can enjoy a candle-lit dinner and sip a cocktail or a beer. A place not to miss when coming to Luang Prabang!
For all yogis: check out the yoga classes at Utopia!
5. Get templed out
Luang Prabang is scattered with many beautiful temples across the whole city. You’ve got 33 to choose from, but Wat Xien Thong is probably the most famous one – for a reason – it is absolutely stunning! One of my favourite temples is Haw Pha Bang temple, which is located at the entrance to the grounds of the Royal Palace.
6. Night Market
The night market takes place every day between 17:00 and 23:00. You can shop everything from local handicrafts to T-shirts and traditional Lao clothing. Unlike at other night markets, vendors aren’t pushy at all and the whole experience is really relaxing 🙂 Don’t forget to haggle a bit but refrain from bargaining about every penny or cent – it probably doesn’t make a world of a difference for you, but it may for the locals.
7. Watch the Alms Giving Ceremony
This is a bit of a controversial activity in Luang Prabang. As the sun rises, a sacred Buddhist ritual takes place every day, during which the locals line up along the roads to offer alms to the monks. It has become a popular tourist activity to observe this tradition during the recent years. There is nothing wrong about that, but many tourists do not behave very respectfully, standing just about a meter away from the monks in order to get nice pictures. Don’t be that kind of traveler! Observing the ceremony is a great way to immerse yourself into the local culture, but do so from a distance and turn off the flash of your camera.
8. Visit Xien Meng village across the Mekong
If you feel like escaping the tourist crowd, take the ferry across the Mekong to explore the little village of Xien Meng. There is a Wat you can visit, but if you are feeling “templed out”, simply take a stroll through the dirt roads, try some of the local street foods and observe life in the village. When we went to the village, there was a Laos wedding taking place, which was pretty cool to see!
9. Luang Prabang’s morning market and Phosi Market
Visiting one of the local food markets is a really nice way to immerse yourself into local life. In the city center, a morning market takes place every day. Alternatively, you can head to Phosi Market which is a bit further out of the center (about a 20 minute walk). There you’ll get to see everything – bags of blood, frogs, spices, you name it!
10. Volunteer with Big Brother Mouse
Big Brother Mouse is a small organization that offers daily conversation classes for locals to improve their English. Stop by at 9am or 5pm to help – there is no need to sign up for this, you can simply show up there!
11. Knock back a beer at the Mekong
Perfect to combine with watching the sunset and a cheaper alternative than going to a bar at night!
12. Visit the Bowling alley
For some reason I missed out on this. You may think, so what – a bowling alley? Well, this apparently is THE place in Luang Prabang to party. Almost every backpacker goes there when Utopia closes and apparently it is super fun! It’s the only place in Luang Prabang that is open after the midnight curfew, so it is packed with people every night as I have been told. Don’t miss it like I did!
13. Indulge yourself in delicious food
The night street food market is heaven for vegetarians! We went out for dinner there every night and never got bored with it because so much is offered to choose from (not only vegetarian options but also meat & fish). During the day, we usually just grabbed a sandwich and a fruit shake from one of the many food stalls along the main roads, which always was super delicious too!
As you can see, there are a lot of things you can do to keep you entertained when visiting Luang Prabang. The list could go on even longer – close to the city are the famous Pak Ou Caves, there is the Royal Palace Museum and many more things you can do. Just go and discover the beautiful city by yourself!
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