It’s worth getting up at dawn to see Luang Prabang at its most serene. Monks walk the streets to accept alms (in this case, food donations). As a tourist, you’re welcome to participate, but keep in mind that this is a religious tradition and not a tourist attraction. Be respectful, keep pictures discreet, and dress appropriately. Afterwards you should take advantage of the cool morning weather and rising light to explore the town by foot. You’ll pass by a lot of beautiful monasteries with red roofs; but if there is one Luang Prabang temple you have to visit, it’s Xieng Thong.
Wat Xieng Thong was built in the 16th century but has been well- maintained over the years. Its beauty is in its details and its grandeur, with shrines, pavilions, a funeral chapel, and neat flower beds and trees on the grounds. The buildings have lovely rusty-red roofs with curved panels and surfaces covered with gold. The main temple structure has carvings depicting scenes throughout Buddha’s life and a light-gold statue inside surrounded by stunning red and purple walls. This temple in northeast Luang Prabang is definitely worth a few hours of your time. If you walk southwest from Wat Xieng Thong you’ll come to the Royal Palace Museum which houses the sacred Pha Bang, an 83 centimetre tall Buddha statue covered in gold leaf that sits among other displays outlining the city’s history.
The waterfronts of both the Nam Khan River and larger Mekong are excellent places to take a stroll. Shops and restaurants line the roadside and at sunset, there is no better place to watch the water and tree-lined banks turn orange in the fading light. At mealtimes you will find that Luang Prabang restaurants are like a buffet of international food. You can try fantastic chocolate desserts in a café, sit down with a selection of Belgian beers, or even grab a cheap vegan meal at one of the local markets.
Make sure to brush up on your haggling skills before you travel to Luang Prabang. Aside from shopping, you’ll want to get the best taxi or tuk-tuk prices to some of the attractions out of town. Head to the Kuang Si and Tad Sae Waterfalls where you’ll see water flowing over beautiful, step-like limestone falls set among big boulders and dense forest. Keen for a swim? Tad Sae is smaller but you can paddle in the pools at the bottom of the falls or even ride on the back of an elephant.
Let the beauty of this city take you on an adventure for a change. After visiting Luang Prabang, you may never want to holiday in a modern city again. Book your Luang Prabang accommodation and flight to Laos with us today.
Hotels in Luang Prabang start at AU$19 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.