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Luang Prabang

Things to see and do

Temples

  • The temples of Luang Prabang
    4 stars

    For a small city, Luang Prabang has a high concentration of Buddhist temples and it's these beautiful golden wats that earned it a spot on the UNESCO list and tourist map. Before the Black Flag attacks of 1887 there were 60-plus temples in Luang Prabang, but many were destroyed following the ... read more

  • Wat Xieng Thong
    4.5 stars

    Wat Xieng Thong is generally considered to be the most historically significant and magnificent of Luang Prabang's temples. Set near the confluence of the Mekong and Khan rivers, with a sweeping two-tiered roof and elaborate mosaics, this large temple epitomises the classic Luang Prabang style. ... read more

  • Wat Mai
    4 stars

    Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham, more simply known as Wat Mai (the New Monastery), is Luang Prabang's largest wat. Centrally located on Sisavangvong Road and an important site during the annual Pimai Lao festival, Wat Mai is one of the city's most photographed temples. Founded at the end of the 18th ... read more

  • Wat Wisunalat
    3.5 stars

    Also known as Wat Visoun, this wat is named after King Wisunarat, the king whose reign it was constructed during, though the structure standing today is a replica of the one built in 1513. Records suggest that the original was quite spectacular, with some 4,000 trees needed to complete its ... read more

  • Wat Aham
    4 stars

    Next door to Wat Wisunalat, Wat Aham (Temple of the Opened Heart) is another sleepy temple that most tourists tend to bypass. The sim was only constructed around 1820, but the site has been home to animist shrines since long before. The temple has spacious grounds graced by two large banyan trees ... read more

  • Wat That Luang
    3.5 stars

    Legend has it that Wat That Luang was founded way, way back in the third century BC by visitors from India, but physical evidence from the temple site place its origins in the early 1800s. Of historical interest is the central stupa containing the ashes of King Sisavang Vong, the final king of ... read more

  • Wat Manorom
    3.5 stars

    Built to inter the ashes of King Samsenthai who died in 1416, the badly weathered sim here was home to the Phra Bang for a decade during the early 16th century. Today, Wat Manorom (also known as Wat Mano) is best known for housing one of Laos' oldest Buddha images, a two-tonne, armless bronze ... read more

  • Wat Sene
    4 stars

    This Thai-style wat was built in 1718 and restored twice during the 1900s. ‘Sene' means 100,000 kip in Lao language and that's supposedly what it cost to originally build the temple (this now equates to around US$12). It remains an active temple and is known for its large standing Buddha ... read more

  • Wat Xieng Muan
    3.5 stars

    Tucked away down a quiet lane between the market and the riverfront, Wat Xieng Muan is a serene temple with flower gardens, several stupas and outdoor Buddha statues. The sim was reportedly constructed in the mid-1800s, although the monastery is much older. With funding from UNESCO, the living ... read more

  • Mount Phou Si
    3.5 stars

    The temple on top of Phou Si is striking from a distance, but nothing spectacular once you're up close. The vantage point will give you panoramic views of the town's pretty rooftops and on a clear day, the surrounding mountains. Many people gather here to watch the sunset or sunrise and it can get ... read more

  • Tak Bat
    4.5 stars

    If Luang Prabang has a must-see attraction, this is it. Each morning at around 06:00, hundreds of resident monks leave their wat and walk silently down the streets in single-file to collect food offerings from the local people. The near endless parade of monks, each barefoot and saffron-robed, ... read more

Museums

  • Royal Palace Museum
    3.5 stars

    Inside the walled compound between the riverfront and Sisavangvong Road you'll find the Royal Palace Museum. Also known as the National Museum or Haw Kham (Golden Hall), this ornate residence was built between 1904 and 1909 as a new home for King Sisavangvong after the previous royal digs were ... read more

  • Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre
    3.5 stars

    This private museum devoted to Lao ethnography has operated out of a beautifully restored French mansion since 2006. AEC is a museum that highlights the cultural diversity and richness of Laos. Their permanent exhibitions explores the four major ethnic minority groups and the museum always features ... read more

Waterfall

  • Tad Thong Waterfall
    3.5 stars

    If you’re sure-footed, want to enjoy some nature and get away from the tourist crowds, Tad Thong, a rainy season-only series of small waterfalls, is the ticket. Travellers to Luang Prabang will probably visit Kuang Si and Tad Se Waterfalls but few people know of Tad Thong, a rainy season-only ... read more

  • Kwang Si Waterfall & Bear Rescue Centre
    4 stars

    At Kwang Si, clear, cool water cascades gently over limestone formations and gathers into layers of stunning turquoise pools. Follow the tumbling waters uphill for scenic views and a rope swing favoured by backpackers or downstream for a shady, shallow swimming area popular with families. ... read more

  • Tad Sae Waterfall
    4 stars

    Tad Sae waterfall is stunning as this wide stream of turquoise water tumbles through the jungle and over limestone rocks in the pools on water in which both locals and tourists alike frolic. It's the swimming that many tourists come for and it truly is a great place for a dip, much like Kuang Si. ... read more

Caves

  • Pak Ou Caves
    4 stars

    One of Luang Prabang's most famous sites, these limestone caves near the Mekong have been a place of worship for more than a thousand years. When pilgrims completed the difficult journey to the caves, which lie 25 kilometres upriver from Luang Prabang in a cliff 15 metres above the water, they left ... read more

Markets

  • Dara Market
    3 stars

    This is Luang Prabang's oldest permanent market and until the city gets its first proper mall, Dara Market is the place to shop for anything that isn't a handicraft or souvenir. You'll unearth lots of modern Made-in-China goods here like mobile phones, DVDs, jeans and brand name (knock-off) ... read more

General Activites

  • The Living Land Organic Farm
    4 stars

    At The Living Land Organic Farm, a community enterprise five kilometres from Luang Prabang town, travellers can learn how to grow rice and try their hand at every one of the 14 laborious steps to go from a single grain to the dinner table (including step #3, a romp through the muck with Susan to ... read more

  • Kuang Si Butterfly Park
    3.5 stars

    The forests around Kuang Si Waterfall have always attracted a large number of butterflies. Now the Kuang Si Butterfly Park gives both local and foreign visitors an opportunity to view them up close and provides another attraction to see while you’re already visiting the falls and the bear ... read more

  • Sunset in Luang Prabang
    4 stars

    Sunset in Luang Prabang leaves a lasting impression on travellers, often becoming one of their most memorable experiences. Mount Phou Si is the heart of Luang Prabang, gracefully rising in the middle of the town centre. 328 steps lead up to Wat Chom Si on top and it’s no wonder that it’s a ... read more

  • Volunteer!
    4 stars

    Under-developed and with a tumultuous history, it's hard to travel through Laos without feeling affected. Luang Prabang has many opportunities to contribute toward the community. Big Brother Mouse Main office beside 3 Nagas Restaurant, T: (071) 254 937 Meet some young Lao writers and ... read more

  • Weaving
    4 stars

    Those with a soft spot for Laos' fine fabrics can try their hand at the loom with classes run by Ock Pop Tok. Participants will work directly with the artisans. Workshops are held at an artisan centre two kilometres outside of the city and range from one day ($45) for weaving bamboo to a three-day ... read more

Cooking classes

  • Cooking Classes in Luang Prabang
    4.5 stars

    Developed a taste for sticky rice? Some of Luang Prabang's best restaurants offer cooking classes sharing their kitchens' best-loved local recipes visitors. Generally, there are either day classes or evening classes available. Day classes typically begin with a visit to the fresh market for ... read more

Boat trips

  • Boat rides
    4.5 stars

    A lazy boat ride down the Mekong is one of the highlights of Luang Prabang, and you can't walk along the riverfront without being approached and offered a tour. For a short cruise, the best time to go is before sunset when the fishermen begin to reel in their catch and schoolchildren, home for the ... read more

Massage

  • Lao Red Cross Sauna and Massage
    4 stars

    The Lao Red Cross Sauna and Massage recently reopened after renovations. The sauna is better than ever and an absolute bargain, with proceeds supporting Lao Red Cross projects. After three months of renovations, the Lao Red Cross Sauna & Massage has reopened. This Luang Prabang institution has been ... read more

  • Massage and spas
    4 stars

    Luang Prabang isn't exactly a strenuous place to spend a holiday, but we think everyone deserves a little R&R. When it comes to spas and massage in Laos, be cautious. Laos lacks the massage tradition and skilful training that you may be accustomed to finding in Thailand. The quality and hygiene ... read more

Shopping

  • Kop Noi
    4 stars

    The name of this boutique means "little frog", a symbol of environmental balance, and it specialises in sustainably produced local goods. The shop is located around the back of Phousi mountain near where many of the bars are these days and has a beautiful collection of silk dresses, mulberry paper ... read more

Day trips

  • The Chomphet Loop
    4 stars

    Looking for a scenic motorbike or challenging cycling trip in Luang Prabang? Just across the Mekong River from town is Chomphet District with a 23 kilometre dirt road loop that will take you through the countryside, past small villages, beautiful rice paddies and mountains. It’s bumpy and hilly ... read more

  • Across the river, Chompet District
    4 stars

    For an off-the-beaten-track experience without straying too far, take the local boat across the Mekong to Chompet district. A particularly scenic time to visit is mid-morning when the people who live in Chompet head home with baskets of vegetables, sacks of rice and live animals from the Luang ... read more

  • Elephant rides & mahout training
    4 stars

    Elephant rides are usually a one-hour jaunt through the jungle with riders perched atop in small bench seats. Mahout training, is something else all together. While this is certainly something kids will enjoy, most feel the fun ends within the first 10 minutes. The truth is that riding an elephant ... read more

  • Henri Mouhot's Grave
    3 stars

    This whitewashed monument in a small clearing by the river is quite simple, but the fascinating life of the man buried beneath is what brings visitors to this grave. Henri Mouhot was a French explorer and the first foreigner to see Angkor Wat in Cambodia. He contracted malaria during an expedition ... read more

  • Kamu and Hmong village treks and homestays
    4 stars

    The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful as you forge through forests, jungles and small villages. Depending on the length of the trek, the itinerary might include a foray into the northern depths of the province or remain as close to Luang Prabang as across the river. These villages are slowly ... read more

  • Ban Phanom
    3 stars

    The village of Ban Phanom is devoted to creating textiles like those you see at the night market. While it is a bit of a touristy affair, it isn't far from town so do take a look. It's possible to watch the women working on their loom and observe the entire silk-making process from silkworm, ... read more

  • Ban Chan Pottery Village
    4 stars

    This village on the Mekong produces a variety of pottery from flower pots to funeral urns. Here you can do more than just watch the artisans in action: With advance notice, you can participate and make your own pieces from natural clay for a truly original souvenir. The village is just on the ... read more

  • Ban Xang Hai
    3.5 stars

    Aged in a matter of seconds, lao lao is an acquired taste. In the village of Ban Xang Hai you can watch production and purchase a bottle, with or without scorpions and snakes to improve your sexual vitality. It's more of a souvenir stop than a real village with loads of weavings for sale, but a ... read more

  • Ban Had Hian
    2.5 stars

    A traditional arts village, Ban Had Hian is better known as the Blacksmith Village and lies only five kilometres from the city, directly opposite the airport. Here you can watch men who have clearly mastered their trade crafting machetes, knives, shovels and spades. Keep an eye out for the bellows ... read more


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