Luang Prabang is a must see on your Laos Holiday. It is a city located in north central Laos, where the Nam Khan River and Mekong River merge. Easily accessible by plane, bus or boat you will fall in love with this gorgeous place as soon as you arrive. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, Luang Prabang central area is off limits to larger vehicles and there are relatively few cars so it makes for a very pleasant stay and area to wander around. The first thing you will probably notice is how clean Luang Prabang is as well as the fantastic architecture – a mix of traditional and French influence.
It is a city where you can spend your days exploring the many temples, museums, open air markets, waterfalls and surrounding countryside or you can just meander around the city soaking up the atmosphere.
I decided to get started with a visit to Xieng Thong (Temple of the Golden Sun). As travelers we all have a fear of been “over-templed” or “templed-out” but rest assured you will not feel that way when visiting this stunning complex made up of stupors, shrines, pavilions and residences – it is still an active temple with monks going about their daily business. A highlight at this temple is the ‘tree of life’ mosaic.
Still feeling energetic I decided to move onto Phu Si Hill – an iconic landmark towering above Luang Prabang – after struggling up 329 steps I was rewarded with the most amazing views stretching for miles, taking in Luang Prabang, the mountains and the Mekong River. Well worth the climb. You can then descend down the other side where you will stumble across mini-Wats, shrines and a large array of different sized Buddha’s.
After a well-deserved late afternoon nap I decided to venture out and finish my day of sightseeing off with a visit to the Night Market, and what a market it is! Definitely one of my favorites out of all the market I have seen in SE Asia (and I have seen many!). The quality and variety of goods is high and the sales-pressure is much less than what I have found in other markets and is therefore a far more pleasant experience. After a visit to the night market my suitcase was definitely a lot heavier.
On my 2nd day in Luang Prabang I decided to start with an early rise to watch the daily “alms” procession. If you are going to attend this procession please do your research to ensure you are dressed respectfully and watch from a distance.
After watching the alms procession I decided to head out into the countryside to visit the famous Kuang Si waterfalls. A definite must see – you can choose to go by pick-up truck which is an experience in itself or else take a long tail boat. There is also an Asian bear sanctuary there where bears injured by poachers are being rehabilitated. All in all a great day out – the waterfalls are beautiful.
On my last day in Luang Prabang (by this stage I am wishing I definitely had a few more days) I just spend the day wandering the streets checking out the hidden laneways, stumbling across delicious bakeries, seeing more Pagoda’s, browsing in the fabulous boutiques and just generally soaking up the ambience of this delightful city.
Luang Prabang absolutely deserves its title of “jewel of Indochina”.