Luang Prabang, Laos – Vientiane may be the official capital of Laos, but Luang Prabang has always felt like the sexier city of the two for me. Don’t get me wrong, what I meant is that it definitely exudes the more exotic and ancient charm than its sister city in landlocked Laos. It wasn’t that direct to get to Luang Prabang previously from Singapore, but since SilkAir launched its inaugural flight last October, we have no excuse not to make time to check out this neighbouring city and also stayed in the gorgeous Sofitel Luang Prabang. If you only have a couple of days to spare, here is our recommended list of activities to do in this laid-back city, including the ancient town of Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For a guide of what to eat in Luang Prabang, here are some of our food recommendations!
Swim in Kuang Si Waterfalls
One of the most popular activity to do in Luang Prabang which we highly recommend is to visit Kuang Si Waterfalls. A trip from the old town to the falls takes about an hour, but you won’t regret the journey. You will pass through a small bear enclosure area before reaching the base of the waterfalls. Every tier of the waterfalls is beautiful in its own way, with our favourite part being the mid-tier where you can capture that nice silky shot of the picturesque falls. Continue walking up leads you to the peak of the falls where there’s a small bridge for some picture moments. Be adventurous to jump into the water for some wet and memorable moments! Admission fee of 20,000 kips apply.
Shop at the local night market and take a stroll along the UNESCO World Heritage Ancient Town
With more than 200 vendors, the local night market starts from as early as 5pm along Sisavangvong Road in the old town. While the stalls get repetitive after awhile, it was still an interesting night exploring some of the local souvenirs, handicrafts and apparels. You need some bargaining power here.
Catch the sunset at Mount Phousi
Sunsets are enchanting in this UNESCO town and one of the best spots for the sunset view is Mount Phousi. Start by ascending the steps from Sisavangvong Road where the night market is, where there’s an admission fee of 20,000 kips. The 100 metres ascend (note that Liang Prabang is approximately 700 metres above sea level) is not tough, and it will probably take you about ten to fifteen minutes to get to the top. Do expect a huge turnout during sunset hours where it can be challenging to score a good spot for photography. The aerial view of Luang Prabang is worthwhile nonetheless.
Take a walk through the Morning Market
For a less touristy activity, we highly recommend a visit to the morning market. It is pretty much an all locals’ affair here, where hundreds of stalls are set up along the narrow alley off the Main Street. Other than stalls selling vegetables and meats, there are also stalls where you can get some local food and grilled meats if you are adventurous enough!
Witness the sacred Morning Alms
We have seen it countless times in all Luang Prabang guides, but seeing is believing when it comes to the Morning Alms at the heart of Luang Prabang every morning from 5.30am. You can purchase rice and snacks from the local vendors as part of the line-up to contribute to the monks as they do their rounds, or maintain a good distance to witness this procession. We have to admit though that it has become an all-too-touristy affair in terms of the local participation vs the tourists.
Visit Wat Xieng Thong
If you only have time to see a Buddhist temple, Wat Xieng Thong is one of the most famous temple in Luang Prabang, dating back to as far as the 16th century. While the grounds is not big, it was interesting exploring the exquisite architecture of the temple. Admission fee of 20,000 kips apply.
Catch a sunset cruise along the Mekong River
If this is your first time seeing the Mekong River, which is not exactly the prettiest flow of water on Earth but definitely one of the most famous in the Indo-China region. There are many vendors which provide cruise tours in Luang Prabang during lunch or sunset hours, some with meals provided on board.
Pak Ou Caves
If you are into caves and Buddha statues, Pak Ou Caves is one of the most famous attraction in Luang Prabang, where the limestone caves have a history dating back thousands of years. It is located about 25km from Luang Prabang, at the intersection where the Mekong River meets the Nam Ou River, hence the name Pak Ou which literally translates to ‘Mouth of the Ou river’.
Ranted by The Ranter