Luang Prabang is known for being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It must be said that its architecture, its temples, and its colonial style are absolutely worth seeing. But know that the city has other assets. The Mekong river, Buddhist rituals, local markets, street food are so many reasons to spend time the city. Staying a week in Luang Prabang is really easy. You do not believe us ? ORLA Tours reveals all its must-do in this article. According to that, you’ll be able to make your ideal schedule according to your desires :) program.
Stroll in the town, peninsula, UNESCO, architecture
It may seem obvious, but do you know why Luang Prabang is registered at the Unesco world heritage? The answer is, I quote, "it mixes the sophisticated architecture of religious buildings, vernacular ones and colonial ones." Thus, our recommendation is to spend some time walking in town with no specific itinerary. Stroll, and especially do not hesitate to walk into small pedestrian alleys. You will discover a village life, isolated from the flow of tourists. During your walks, feel free to visit to the french institut, where you can visit the old house of Pierre Desproges. Its architecture is really worth seeing.
Visit the temples and the royal palace
With more than 45 temples, Luang Prabang is a paradise for lovers of Buddhist culture. It's useless to do them all because they all look a little alike. So which ones to choose? Wat Xieng Thong must be your top priority. It is one of the most beautiful in the country with its beautiful mosaics. The details are incredible. There are also the Wat Mai Temples, Vatsene, and the others on the main street which are absolutely beautiful. Wat Visounarath is less known but more rooted in the daily life of locals. It is worth the detour. The two Buddha trees at its entrance are incredible. Finally, our preferred one: Wat Phon Phao. Located 2km south of the peninsula, it offers breathtaking views of the city. And above all, his gilding and paintings are beautiful. You will certainly be the only tourists during your visit. The Royal Palace is also a must in Luang Prabang, it is now a national museum.
Kuang Si waterfall, Tad Sae and its elephant camp
Laos is full of waterfalls. These are the perfect places to swim and relax. Luang Prabang is no exception to the rule. Here are the 3 main ones. The best known, Kuang Si, is also the most visited. You will not be alone during your visit. However, climbing at the top will allow you to swim away from the flow of tourists. 10 minutes of climb that are well worth it. Kuang Si has the main advantage of having water all year round. This is not the case of Tad Sae, which we recommend to visit only from October to December. Its highlight is the elephant camp that is next door. It is therefore possible to combine a half-day with the pachyderms followed by a free time at the waterfall. And our favorite: Tad Keo. Located 20 minutes walk from Kuang Si, it is very little visited by tourists. The place is so very calm and relaxing. It is even possible to spend the night in tents! Unique experience guaranteed.
A must-see during a visit to Luang Prabang, it offers a 360-degree view above the city. Be aware that the place is overflowing with tourists at sunset. We do not recommend going there between 17:30 and 18:30. The good plan is to go early in the morning to see the sun rise, if the weather is nice. The fog dissipating over the city is an exceptional sight.
Mekong cruise & Pak Ou caves
Going to the caves of Pak Ou is the ideal way to combine a cruise on the Mekong and a cultural visit. From Luang Prabang, you can board a traditional slow wooden boat for 4 hours cruising (round trip). Why are they famous? Because they host thousands of Buddha statues. It is a place of great importance for the Buddhist religion. Prefer a visit early in the morning to avoid the flow of tourists.
Tak Bat, the alms giving ceremony
The Tak Bat, what is it ? It is the Laotian name for the alms giving ceremony to the monks. Every morning, between 05:40 and 06:30, they come out in town from all the temples. They form long lines to receive their only meal of the day. We see mostly Laotian waiting on the sidewalks to feed them. This daily religious rite has become a tourist attraction in the peninsula. There are many travelers who do not respect this ceremony, and disturb the believers. Thus, we give you two tips. The first is to keep yourself at a reasonable distance when you observe this ritual. Leave them space. The second is to get out of the peninsula to attend the ceremony. For example, wait around Wat Visounarath temple. You will see the monks arriving from the surrounding temples. You can then continue with the visit of Mount Phousi, to admire the sunrise. The panorama of the city is beautiful and you will be there alone !
Local markets of Luang Prabang
The markets are the perfect places to discover local crafts and products. We particularly recommend the Vieng Kham and Phousi markets. Located both 3 kilometers from the city center, this is where you will see authentic Laos. Because of their isolation, only few tourists go there. You will be able to observe the Laotians shopping vegetables, live fish, spices, meat, but also a lot of exotic stuff. It is absolutely a must-do! If you prefer to stay in the peninsula, the morning market is also very interesting. It is located in the street parallel to the main street. Open at dawn, locals buy their fruits, vegetables, and meats. Finally, the night market is dedicated to souvenirs. You won’t find any food there. But if you are leaving Laos, this is the place to shop for last minute.
The climate in Laos is very mild. Eating outside is a pleasure. We strongly recommend that you try streetfood. Most stalls are located near the night market. However, you will find grilling stands all over the city. The meat is often fresh, so let yourself be tempted! And do not think these are tourist traps, because Laotians are very fond of grilled meat, with Beerlao obviously.
Luang Prabang is not limited to its peninsula, far from it. So, do not hesitate to ride a bike to explore the rest of the city. We recommend going south to Wat Manorom temple. You will see an entirely different aspect of the city. This is probably the best way to discover the authentic way of life of Laotians. For the most motivated, the area surrounding the football stadium offers many Chinese restaurants. They are very popular to young Lao people who love to eat meat and grilled vegetables.
Whether you are passionate about culture, idleness, or architecture, Luang Prabang is for you. We hope that you have understood through this article that it is very easy to spend a full week. We hope this will help you plan your trip to Laos as best as possible. And if you need a local agency to organize your holidays, do not hesitate to contact us.
Our team of experts will create a tailor-made trip that will meet all your expectations.
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