Luang Prabang is a very romantic town nestled into the lush UNESCO world heritage sight. Unlike the country excursions I went on in Chiang Mai, Luang Prabang has a beach town vibe, with French colonial undertones, though there is not beach in sight, rather a rushing river. Below is what to do in Luang Prabang, my favorite experiences that I’ve had there so far. If I’ve missed your favorite please share it with me in the comments so we can learn from each other! And see more of my Laos photos on Instagram.
|What To Do In Luang Prabang Laos|
Best time of Year
There is a lot of discussion about the “high” season and “low” season, and many prefer the season when it is less rainy, between October and April. Weather during this period is mostly cool and pleasant with light breeze, but the vegetation isn’t as lush and green. I went during the low season when it was more humid, hot, lush and green and had far fewer tourists. I preferred this because there were better deals to be had and because I didn’t have to navigate mobs of tourists.
Recommended Number of Days
4 days is plenty of time to explore this sultry tropical town. You will also have time to hire a driver for some day trips in the vicinity.
Recommended Number of People
2 people is ideal in my opinion because it allows for nimble exploring and adventure, slipping in and out of restaurants, walks down narrow roads and hikes to waterfalls among much else.
Laos Tipping Policy
Tipping for good service is not expected but is always appreciated in Laos. It is customary, though not compulsory, to tip tour guides and drivers at the end of a tour. Hotel and station porters should also be tipped a small amount.
Guide Tip: About $15-25 USD per day per group of 6 or less, more for larger groups
Driver Tip: About $12 USD per day per group of 6 or less, more for larger groups
Porters: $1 USD per luggage
Meals: 5-10% on top of the bill
Private Driver and Tours
EXO Travel is a wonderful tour company that will help set you up on many excursions with a private guide and air conditioned car to take you around. It is worth it.
Eat, Drink, Stay, See, Acquire
- Sofitel Luang Prabang is a beautiful hotel that feels like you’re turning back time. It has a small cooking school where you can take a Laos cooking class as well as a beautiful pool with surrounding hammocks. The daily complimentary breakfast is a feast for kings and queens. And there is a shuttle that runs to their other hotel with a great restaurant. It also happens to be a great part of town to get dropped off in for a stroll through town, and the night market.
See + Do + Eat + Drink
- Take a cycling excursion with a tour guide and cruise through the flat streets of the city center to the National Museum for a visit. Once the royal palace, the building now houses an impressive collection of historical relics and informative displays. Continue along between the Mekong River on the west and the Nam Khan River on the east, a mix of residential houses from the French colonial era, small businesses and dozens of Buddhist temples. One you leave the town stop off at Ock Pop Tok. This non-profit organization seeks to preserve traditional weaving techniques, a trade which was once an important source of income for many Lao families and is slowly fading out as modern technology has evolved. Take a tour of the silk weaving process and have lunch at The Silk Road Cafe. The views of the Mekong River from this restaurant will take your breath away.
- Wake up early, at 5:30am, and witness one of the oldest Buddhist traditions of Luang Prabang. There is a very special dawn visit to watch the monks collecting the alms. As the sun begins to rise, long lines of orange-robed monks leave their pagodas and walk barefoot down the streets collecting offerings from Luang Prabang residents.
- Next walk up the 365 steps of the Phousi Mountain to enjoy a panoramic view at a time when this unavoidable site is still calm with morning mist. Return to the hotel for breakfast.
- In the afternoon, drive to the Kuang Si Waterfalls. The falls are a series of cascading turquoise pools, surrounded by lush forest. Spend time exploring the falls and enjoying the pristine nature. Take a challenging, but rewarding, hike to the top of the highest drop or simply relax on the rocks of the lower pools.
- Stop off at the Asiatic Black Bear sanctuary, located near the falls. It houses endangered bears rescued from poachers. Nearby is also a butterfly park where dozens of colorful butterflies swirl around the tropical flowers.
- If you’re into golf, the Luang Prabang golf course is a special treat and one of the most beautiful golf courses you will set your eyes one, for a bargain price by western standards.
- The night market is a fun delight and that particular road is full of restaurants, bars, and shops that you’ll enjoy popping in and out of, it feels almost like a Nantucket beach town, with beautiful French colonial architecture.