Luang Prabang is the must-see destination in Laos that almost any itinerary to this laid-back country includes it. If admiring the charm and history of Laos, just come to its premier tourist site – Luang Prabang.
Luang Prabang is located in the north of Laos. It was the antique royal capital of Lan Xang Kingdom until King Phothisarat moved the capital to Vientiane in 1545. It was inscribed as the UNESCO World Heritage in 1995.This ancient and gorgeous town is where to learn about Laos’ tradition, culture, and history. Travel to Luang Prabang to see the pretty town, Mekong River, French colonial buildings, the intact natural landscapes and dozens of religious monuments scattered throughout. Since the year of 1989, this town has been opened to tourism and trade, which showers it with the chances to transform from the old capital to the attractive “Jewel in Laos Crown.” The impression of the town’s nature, monk community, and religious monuments lasts long.
Extraordinary Tourist Attractions and Activities in Luang Prabang
Mount Phousi is 150m above the heart of Luang Prabang in Laos. This mountain is ideal for watching sunrise and sunset over the mighty Mekong River. From the peak of the mountain, it is wonderful to get the panoramic view of the old-fashioned city dotted with numerous temples and charming landscapes, the Mekong River to the north, and the Khan River to the south and the east. If visiting Mount Phousi, expect to climb for hours and stop by several temples to pray and make offerings, for example, Wat Tham Phousi Shrine and Wat Chomsi. You might want to rest under the shady trees and contemplate the magical scenery.
Kuang Si Waterfall
Kuang Si is the largest waterfall in Luang Prabang with 3 levels in the height of 50m. Here, you find some natural pools for swimming and the lush tropical jungle for staying fresh and friendly to nature. The large shades of the age-old trees are perfect for relaxing and having a picnic. You can climb to the top of the waterfall to witness how the breathtaking stream is. The trekking route is scenic across the rice field, the local Hmong house, and lush jungle.
Pak Ou Caves
Pak Ou Caves are sacred and antique with more than 4,000 Buddha statues inside. They are taken as the shrines dedicated to the river spirit as well as Lord Buddha. You find the caves set in the stunning limestone cliffs at the conjunction point of Mekong River and Nam Ou River. There are two caves to explore; the lower one is Tham Thing, and the upper one is Tham Theung. Both contain numerous Buddha figures in various positions, from mediating to reclining. Pilgrims come to Pak Ou Caves to worship and celebrate festivals as they have the strong belief in the hundred-of-year-old Buddha statues.
Royal Palace Museum
Royal Palace Museum is erected in the spacious and well-cared garden on the Thanon Sisavangvong Boulevard of Luang Prabang. The exhibits here could be dated back to the turbulent time of Lane Xang Kindom, the French colonial period, and the modern Laos. In the past, this museum used to be a Royal Palace built in 1904 by King Sisavangvong. In 1995, the palace was transformed into a museum. Coming here lets you see the royal apartments which are authentically preserved, the royal religious weapons, statues, paintings, and especially the crown jewels of Laos.
Tad Sae Waterfall
Tad Sae Waterfall is best seen in the wet season (from August to November is the perfect period) when nature is truly picturesque with natural pools, limestone formations, and transparent streams. The ideal way to reach the peaceful Tad Sae is by boating, which provides the countless opportunities for photographing and sightseeing. People come to swim, have a picnic and relax peacefully here. Tad Sae is also nearby the Ban Amen Village for the new guests to cherish both nature and culture.
Wat Long Khoun
Wat Long Khoun is once known “Monastery of the Happy,” referring to the fact that it served as a sanctuary for people to find spiritual rejuvenation. The new King would retreat there for 3 days cleaning and mediating before the coronation. This religious construction has characteristics of the gilded columns, elaborate wood carvings, and the Jataka murals telling stories of 547 lives of Lord Buddha. The interior includes statues of deities and mythical creatures in Buddhism.
Wat Wisunarat could be dated back to 1531, under the reign of King Wisunarat, which makes this the oldest temple in Luang Prabang. The history of this temple was colorful as it passed various eras and wars. Over time, Wat Wisunarat functions as a Museum of Religious Arts, and the home to various religious artifacts and treasures of both Buddhism and the royal families. Some of the highlights of this temple lie in its stupa shape and the European-style roof, which is the influence of the French architects who rebuilt the fascinating construction in the late 1980s.
Wat Xieng Thong
Wat Xieng Thong is the charming Buddhist temple. It was erected in 1560 under the reign of King Setthathirat. Here, you find the elaborate carvings on the walls, the unusual Buddhist deities, the 12m-high funeral carriage, the drum tower, and the gorgeous ‘tree of life’ glass montage in the mosaic style. Also, the statues of Naga and other mythical figures perfect the intricate decorations in the precious monument. Wat Xieng Thong is also famous for the historical coronation of Laos Kings and various annual festivals.
The Living Land Company
The restaurants and hotels in Luang Prabang mainly get fresh vegetables, salads, herbs, and rice from the community-run organic farm – The Living Land Company. Visiting this farm, you can try being a farmer, and enjoy the views of the green rice terraces, the Laos houses, and the organic vegetable paddies. The Living Land Company welcomes visitors to experience the Laos rice farming techniques for organic rice planting, harvesting, and farm sightseeing. The scenery is ultimately green and fresh.
Arts & Ethnology Center
This site preserves and displays the arts and lifestyle of 30 ethnic groups in Laos. The exhibition includes traditional textiles, jewelry, religious artifacts, handicrafts, household items, documentary-style photographs, etc., of the diverse ethnic population. Arts & Ethnology Center is the non-profit museum that gives the unique glimpse of the Laos’ life and culture. There are the detailed explanations for the rituals and ceremonies of the ethnic groups in the past and the present of Laos.
The village of Ban Phanom is about the traditional textile making followed by all families to get the woven items for sales in the night markets. The highlights of Ban Phnom are the woven products, cotton and silk materials in various patterns, and the textile techniques once used for the royal class. If buying in this village, it’s advised to bargain and then learn the culture here.
Elephant Village Sanctuary
This sanctuary is dedicated to giving the rescued Lao elephants the peaceful future and home. The disabled and injured elephants are saved and get chances to recover in the village nestled in the lush valley. People can expect to meet the rescued elephants, and then enjoy activities of elephant riding and mahout training. These bring benefits of both the animals and villagers. The one-hour elephant ride through the jungle or toward Tad Sae Waterfall or Nam Khan River interests everybody.
Alms Giving Ceremony
This is one of the most sacred Buddhist ceremonies in Laos, dated back to the 14th century. While the local people maintain the respectful silence during the ceremony, the visitors shoulddress appropriately. Alms Giving occurs daily during the sunrise, commencing on the major streets and then the side streets. The participants should follow the locals’ guidance by kneeling down to give offerings (food, fruit, rice, sweet snack, etc.) to the monks. The purposes of Alms Giving Ceremony are to make merits and give alms to the monks.
Luang Prabang Library
This library gives opportunities todo charity forLaos children. The Luang Prabang Library provides books to the kids in the remote villages along the Mekong River. If visiting this library, you can help increase donations by buying maps, books, book bags, or souvenirs that will be later sent to the needed villages. Through boating, people deliver books to the schools and villages.
The Best Periods to Visit Luang Prabang in Laos
Luang Prabang has the tropical climate, with the dry (November – April) and wet seasons (May – October). The average temperatures range from 150C to 380C. Broadly speaking, the best periods to visit Luang Prabang are between November and March, when the condition is dry, cool, and comfortable. Especially, January showers Luang Prabang with the festive and crowded atmosphere. Then, when it comes to the rainiest months (August and September), the town might get flooded but still charming.