Luang Prabang a beautiful city in northern Laos is one of our favorite places in the world. Not only is the entire town a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its is full of Buddhist temples, French colonial architecture, waterfalls, markets and more! There are surprisingly many things to do in this small city, but here are the best things to do in Luang Prabang:
Top Things to do In Luang Prabang
Kuang Si Falls
Kuang Si Falls is a spectacular multi-tier waterfall outside of Luang Prabang. Water from these falls flows into numerous turquoise pools locals and visitors use as swimming holes. The water is clean and refreshing (read: chilly) but definitely worth taking a dip. For the more adventure-inclined, look for the rope swing to fulfill your Tarzan fantasies. Picnic tables and wooden huts to change into swimming gear are conveniently located nearby.
You can reach the falls by taking a tuk tuk or a tour. If you take a tuk tuk they will quote you a higher price but you can negotiate much lower. Entrance to the falls is 20,000 kip. Allow at least a half day or more to visit the falls.
Climb Mount Phousi
Located in the center of Luang Prabang, Mount Phoosi is a steep hill topped by a Buddhist temple/stupa. You can climb up Mount Phoosi via two steep staircases from either side. It is definitely worth the 300+ stairs to climb to the top as it provides excellent panaromic views of the town.
Entrance fee 20,000 kip. Sunrise and sunset are the best (and busiest) times to go. We went for sunrise (which can be a bit foggy). Sunset is the best times for photos but it is very busy with camera toting tourists.
See the Alms Giving Ceremony (Tak Bat)
Luang Prabang is the one of the best places to see one of the morning Alms Giving Ceremony (also called the Tak Bat). While open to tourists, it has become a bit of a tourist circus with tourists getting up in monks faces to take photos.
Most tourists watch the Tak Bat on the main street but it is less crowded if you can the ceremony on one of the surrounding streets. Please make sure to keep a respectful distance and follow these rules. You might want to consider hiring a local guide.
Go temple hopping
Luang Prabang is full of Buddhist temples (wats). One of the best and most important temples is Wat Xieng Thong or Temple of the Golden City which is located on the northern tip of the peninsula of Luang Prabang.
Sunset Cruise on the Mekong
One of the best places to view the sunset in Luang Prabang is from a boat on the Mekong River. In addition to the beautiful sunset, you will see fisherman returning back into town.
There are signs for sunset cruises all over town or you can go rent your own boat for an hour ride on the river. You can also book a cruise here.
Shop at the Night Market
Every evening part of the main street is closed off to traffic for the daily night market. This is a great spot to purchase souvenirs and crafts plus there is also some food at the entrance. Unlike other markets, the sellers are not pushy at all.
How many days should you spend in Luang Prabang?
For such a small town Luang Prabang has a surprisingly large number of things to do. We spent a week in Luang Prabang and we did not feel like we where there to long. I would recommend spending a minimum of 3-4 days. Some of the activities that are outside of town (like the Kuang Si Falls or Pak Ou Caves will require a least a half day).
Where to Stay in Luang Prabang
Although some of the nice resorts are located just outside of town, I preferred staying in the center of town which made it easy to walk everywhere.
These are our top choices:
The Belle Rive Boutique Hotel. The hotel has a very central location close to the river, Mount Phousi and the night market, Offers free wi-fi, breakfast, free bicycles as well as one complementary sunset river cruise on the Mekong River. Click here to see the latest prices and read tripadvisor reviews.
Villa Ban Lakkham. This is a more affordable option but provided great value. The hotel has a very central location on the Nam Khan River and close to everything in town. Offers free wi-fi, free breakfast, free bicycles and a refrigerator in room. Click here to see the latest prices and read tripadvisor reviews.
Have you visited Luang Prabang? What were your favorite things to do?
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There are three more things that I’d add to this list and they can be done within the four days you suggested:
– Seeing craftspeople at work at the Living Village, and trying out one of their classes
– Practising English with locals at Big Brother Mouse
– Storytelling in the evening at Garavek
I am slowly learning more and more about Laos & the more I learn the higher up my bucket list it moves. I know nothing about Luang Prabang but what a great center spot for so many great activities. I think I would love the waterfall and seeing the monks in the morning and even checking out the temples. Darcee would probably love the markets and the cruise more but it all looks grand.
The night market would be on top of my list because I like nightlife 🙂 The photo with the colorful umbrellas is my favorite from the post.
The Kuang Si Falls look pretty amazing, almost a little bit like Plitvice Lakes in Croatia but not on that scale, of course. Luang Prabang sounds like a nice place to visit, with all the nature, French colonial architecture blended with those Buddhist temples, I can only imagine what that would be like!
Really nice travel guide I would love to travel in Luang Prabang and take one of those sunset cruises… I am a complete sucker for a good sunset. Love your photos!
Reading your post I can see why Luang Prabang is one of your favourite places in the world. It is such a serene and beautiful place! The Kuang Si Falls is stunning, would love to take a dip in this!
Whenever I visit a country, I always go to places that is recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site. It never fails. Thank for the tips! I’m going to bookmark this for my trip in Laos.
So many awesome things to do – but oh those Kuang Si Falls look simply gorgeous! I love the terraces. Have you ever heard of the Pink and White Terraces? They were in NZ but were completely destroyed in the Mt Tarawera eruption in 1886. The remnants were never found, but the terraces were like that of the Kuang Si Falls and were pink and white coloured. Oh if only they still existed…
I have never ventured over to that side of the world before, so don’t know too much about it – but it looks like there are plenty of things to do there! When would you say is the best time of year to go there, if I were to plan a trip? x