Use the quick links below to jump to a particular section of our sights and activities coverage for Luang Prabang.
Life in Laos revolves around the temple and Luang Prabang is especially renowned for its spiritual aura, no doubt partly due to the 34 UNESCO-protected wats, all located within a compact town centre. ... Read more about The temples of Luang Prabang .
Luang Prabang has a whopping 34 UNESCO-protected temples to explore. If there’s one must see, it’s Wat Xieng Thong, considered the finest in all of ... Read more about Wat Xieng Thong .
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 century, construction, additions and expansions of this temple beside the Royal Palace meant it wasn't finished until the late 1890s (the temple was spared during the Black Flag attack). Further structures were ... Read more about Wat Mai .
Records suggest that the original was quite spectacular, with some 4,000 trees needed to complete its construction. The dozen pillars that supported the interior were each 100 feet tall and the building's exterior was made entirely of wood. The impressive scale of the temple didn't sway the Black Flag invaders, who razed it in 1887. A decade later work began to rebuild the temple using brick ... Read more about Wat Wisunalat .
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 wrapped with colourful ribbons that are believed to host the guardian spirits of Luang Prabang, Phu No and Nha No. The main attraction here, aside from the peaceful, relatively untouristed grounds, are the murals on the ... Read more about Wat Aham .
Of historical interest is the central stupa containing the ashes of King Sisavang Vong, the final king of Laos, and his brother. The larger stupa behind the sim dates from 1818 and is said to contain a relic of the Buddha. The sim is similar in style to nearby Wat Mai and Wat Wisunalat, but the main attraction is the huge bronze Buddha image inside, which weighs some 600 kilograms. Many ... Read more about Wat That Luang .
Today, Wat Manorom (also known as Wat Mano) is best known for housing one of Laos' oldest Buddha images, a two-tonne, armless bronze statue dating from 1372. The story goes that the statue lost its arm during furious fighting between the French and Thai armies during the colonial days, and after matters settled down the French nicked the arms. Ever since then the statue has had to make do ... Read more about Wat Manorom .
The sim was reportedly constructed in the mid-1800s, although the monastery is much older. With funding from UNESCO, the living quarters have been converted into classrooms for teaching the traditional artistic styles and methods needed to restore and maintain Luang Prabang's temples. Rather than doing the usual English homework, the novices here can be seen painting and carving. ... Read more about Wat Xieng Muan .
Wat Khili (Wat Souvanna Khili), found on the main street near the tip of the peninsula, was built in 1773 by Chao Kham Sattha of Xieng Kouang. This explains why the temple is the same style as those found near the Plain of Jars, which makes Wat Khili unique amongst Luang Prabang temples. Known as the Temple of the Golden Mountain, Wat Khili had fallen into disrepair but thanks to the Buddhist ... Read more about Wat Khili .
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 very crowded. While it may be tempting to buy a Beerlao for a sundowner from the vendors selling snacks and drinks near the foot of the hill, this spot is a temple and drinking alcohol is a no-no. ... Read more about Mount Phou Si .
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, is truly a spectacular sight and this dawn ceremony has become an iconic image of Luang Prabang. However, many tourists seem to forget that this is a ... Read more about Tak bat .
Fact: Laos is the most heavily bombed country per capita in the world. It’s a fact that’s been repeated over and over again – but what does it really mean? In between beautiful waterfalls and walks through Luang Prabang’s placid streets, 30 minutes at UXO Lao Visitor Centre will open your eyes to the hell the country went through and how, to this day, people are ... Read more about UXO Lao Visitor Centre .
Inside the walled compound between the riverfront and Sisavangvong Road you'll find the Royal Palace Museum, filled with artefacts and Luang Prabang's most prized relic, the Phra Bang from which it derives its very name. Also known as the National Museum or Haw Kham (Golden Hall), the original ornate residence was built over five years from 1904 as a new home for King Sisavangvong after the ... Read more about Royal Palace Museum .
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 a temporary exhibition of special interest. The collection of items on display were all obtained via direct contact with villagers and include traditional clothing, religious artifacts, tools and handicrafts. The ... Read more about Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre .
When visiting Luang Prabang, most people think of strolling the quiet streets and laneways of the World Heritage town, visiting a wat or two and sipping a coffee as the world passes by. But activities outside of town are worth a look, including visiting the two main waterfalls surrounding the ... Read more about Waterfalls around Luang Prabang .
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. Picnic spots, public toilets and changing rooms are available. Swimming is permitted only in marked areas ... Read more about Kwang Si Waterfall & Bear Rescue Centre .
It's the swimming that many tourists come for and it truly is a great place for a dip, much like Kuang Si. It's difficult to suggest one over the other as they each have their charms, but you will see a greater proportion of tourists at Kuang Si than Tad Sae. Often at the entrance there are a group of elephants you can ride and feed, convenient if you can't be bothered going on a formal tour ... Read more about Tad Sae Waterfall .
Travellers to Luang Prabang will probably visit Kuang Si and Tad Se Waterfalls but few people know of Tad Thong, a rainy season-only series of small waterfalls six kilometres from town. While certainly not as spectacular as the other two sets of falls, Tad Thong offers the chance to take a short vigorous hike through the jungle, a brisk spring-fed pool to cool off in and a place entirely to ... Read more about Tad Thong Waterfall .
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 ... Read more about Pak Ou Caves .
You'll unearth lots of modern Made-in-China goods here like mobile phones, DVDs, jeans and brand name (knock-off) sneakers, but also hardware shops, dried goods and everything else under the sun. If you plan to go trekking you can pick up essential equipment like a torch, backpack, boots or cookware. The location is quite central and it's worth stopping by to browse through the odds and ... Read more about Dara Market .
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 prepare the paddy). By the end of the half-day Rice Experience programme, you’ll be dirty, sweaty ... Read more about The Living Land Organic Farm .
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 about Kuang Si Butterfly Park .
Luang Prabang is a great holiday for easygoing parents and curious, adaptable children -- but not children who must have access to modern distractions as you won't find cinemas, malls or flashy theme parks here. We’ve seen many families with young kids enjoy a week in the town, finding plenty to do while not having to travel far. Luang Prabang is convenient to explore, with everything close and ... Read more about Luang Prabang for kids .
Laos is renowned for its tradition of weaving and Luang Prabang has become a hub for textiles. Weaving is an art and skill that has been passed on between generations. What begins as a silkworm, a bud of cotton or a hemp plant is transformed into a cloth that tells a story about the weaver, her village, her tribe and ethnicity: Hmong, Tai Lue, Tai Dam, Lanten and Katu, just to name a few. ... Read more about Weaving and textiles .
When five-month old Kobe arrived at the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre, he was traumatised. His mother had been shot and killed by hunters. Kobe had been caught, noosed, bound tightly by all four legs, tied to a length of bamboo and carried through the jungle. He endured being carried around this way for three days as Forest Rangers pursued the hunters. Eventually he was abandoned and found by ... Read more about Free the Bears Laos .
Sunset in Luang Prabang leaves a lasting impression on travellers, often becoming one of their most memorable experiences. It is not just pretty skies, although that is certainly part of the magic, this time of day captures the mood and feeling of the entire place. It’s the golden light on the mountains, the calm that blankets the Mekong, the gathering of friends, the temple bells and drums ... Read more about Sunsets .
There are several organisations in Luang Prabang quietly doing good work on the ground to help those most in need. Here's how to give back a little something to the ... Read more about Giving back .
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 course for weaving, dying and making an ikat-style scarf ($195). Visit their website or drop by their gallery in the city for more information. ... Read more about Weaving .
Generally, there are either day classes or evening classes available. Day classes typically begin with a visit to the fresh market for shopping and an introduction to all the herbs and spices essential to Lao cuisine. Participants then prepare four to six dishes along with the essential sticky rice and jeow (Lao dips) and get the recipes in paper to take home. All schools can alter recipes to ... Read more about Cooking classes .
For many people, food is an important aspect of a journey overseas and is often seen as the window to the soul of a country. Eating on the streets, tasting delicious local foods and observing local cooking practices is all part of the culinary experience when visiting a country. Participating in a cooking class can be another good way to tap the local food ... Read more about Tamarind Cooking School .
Bamboo Tree Restaurant and Cooking School opened June 2014 and owner Linda brings 13 years of experience as a chef and instructor. This cooking class is a needed addition to Luang Prabang and we can highly recommend it as one of the best classes in town – if the group size is ... Read more about Bamboo Tree Cooking Class .
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 day, splash in the shallow water. Standard price seems to be 100,000 kip for a one-hour ride, but longer trips to the caves or Whiskey Village are 300,000 kip after a little bargaining. For something a little more upscale, Nava Mekong does daily lunch ... Read more about Boat rides .
After three months of renovations, the Lao Red Cross Sauna & Massage has reopened. This Luang Prabang institution has been a favourite with locals for years but the heritage building was badly in need of repairs. The centre is now revitalised and has a fresh look, with all facilities upgraded. We’re happy to report that the sauna is better than ever. It’s an absolute bargain, and all ... Read more about Lao Red Cross Sauna and Massage .
When it comes to massages in Luang Prabang, be cautious. We’ve been poked and prodded enough to tell you that you have to know where to go or risk a comically bad experience. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for. A few good-value spots are worth seeking out however, and if you’re willing to spend a little more, you can have a top-notch spa experience for a fraction of ... Read more about Massage and spas .
Long after we've left, the sight of a special souvenir will trigger a fond memory or feeling we experienced during a trip away. This is especially true for those who have ventured to Luang Prabang, where many various handmade items tell a story about the place and the people. From designers putting a chic new spin on traditional motifs to elephant slippers that have reached cult status, here's a ... Read more about What to buy in Luang Prabang, Laos .
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 with some very steep sections. The experience is like stepping back in ... Read more about The Chomphet Loop .
We’ve researched and created a full-day motorbike trip that gets you off-the-beaten track while covering two Luang Prabang attractions. We’re calling it “the Pak Ou Loop” since Pak Ou village marks the furthest point. Mere minutes from town you’ll find yourself off-road travelling through rural landscapes, teak forests and small friendly villages and we’ve thrown in two stunning ... Read more about The Pak Ou Loop .
Ban Xieng Lek and Ban Xang Khong, or the paper and weaving villages, are a quick, easy getaway from town. It’s an ideal trip for those interested in textiles, crafts and handmade ... Read more about Ban Xieng Lek and Ban Xang Khong .
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 Prabang fresh market. Relative to touristy Luang Prabang, the Chompet side is rustic -- in other words, surprisingly rough and undeveloped -- and the unpaved road winding along the riverbank has little traffic. There are ... Read more about Across the river, Chompet District .
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 is one of the least interesting things you can do with one. Alternatively, mahout training, while it certainly won't leave you with any sort of real certification, does entail a significant amount of interaction with the gentle giants including a ride on ... Read more about Elephant rides and mahout training .
Henri Mouhot was a French explorer and the first foreigner to see Angkor Wat in Cambodia. He contracted malaria during an expedition into the jungle surrounding Luang Prabang and died in 1861 at the age of 35. The French built a tomb over his grave, but it was forgotten when colonialism ended. It was rediscovered by aid workers in 1990 and has been cleaned and the brush around it cleared. The ... Read more about Henri Mouhot's Grave .
Luang Prabang is slowly catching up with the rest of the modern world but venture outside of the town centre and it doesn’t take long before you’re immersed in rural Laos. A trek or homestay is a good way to get away from other tourists, to delight in nature and learn about village life. It can be enjoyable — so long as travellers have realistic expectations of the ... Read more about Trekking and village homestays .
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, through to dyeing and weaving, to wall hanging the final product in the village of Ban Phanom. As ... Read more about Ban Phanom .
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 other side of the Mekong. Take the local car ferry across for 5,000 kip and follow the path heading ... Read more about Ban Chan pottery village .
A visit to Ban Xang Hai, also known as “the Whiskey Village” is usually included on boat trips to Pak Ou Caves. Here you can see the process of making lao-Lao, the country’s beloved rice whiskey second only to BeerLao in popularity. The village is very touristy but you might enjoy it as a short stop that’s part of a bigger ... Read more about Ban Xang Hai .
Here you can watch men who have clearly mastered their trade crafting machetes, knives, shovels and spades. Keep an eye out for the bellows used to heat the metal, as many of them and other tools are remnants of bomb casings from the Vietnam War era. A short stop here is included with many sightseeing packages, or you can get here by bicycle or tuk tuk. ... Read more about Ban Had Hian .
Situated on a hill rising dramatically at the intersection of two rivers, Luang Prabang has for centuries enchanted those who arrive by boat – still probably one of the best ways to first see the former royal capital of Laos. This town dominated by wats of unspeakable beauty is somnambulent, peaceful and languid, masking a fascinating history of conquest and recapture, and only hinting at an ... Read more about Pi Mai Lao in Luang Prabang: In 1999 .
Five years ago, I first read Travelfish’s assertion that Luang Prabang is the destination in Laos. Though I had come close to visiting in subsequent years, LP had always eluded me, like an itch that I could never quite scratch. At the tail end of 2013, I finally made a spur-of-the-moment break for the ancient capital, and it proved more enchanting than I had ... Read more about A breeze through Luang Prabang .
Have only one day in Luang Prabang? Oh boy, do we feel sorry for you; sometimes travellers stay for a week and still feel like they have more to see. But if you're in a rush, or you were too busy relaxing and have suddenly run out of time, here is Luang Prabang packed into one day. Rent a bicycle and ... Read more about One day in Luang Prabang .
In Luang Prabang, everything has a story. From Mount Phousi to the Nam Khan River to the town itself, there’s a legend behind how they came to be. And don’t forget the popular Lao folktales of trickster Xieng Mieng or the first king Fa Ngum. Garavek gives visitors the opportunity to hear these stories in English. It’s a simple two-man show, with an animated, engaging storyteller ... Read more about Garavek .