Luang Prabang: A Guide

Hey guys and welcome back! This time, we’re going to take you through the sights and magnificence of Luang Prabang in Laos! Luang Prabang, for a fairly small city, has so much to offer and we hope to convey that in this post.

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Sit back, grab a drink and let’s get into it!

The Sights

Though Luang Prabang is a small city, it will keep you very busy during your stay there, trust us! Museums, Temples, Viewpoints, Great Eats and much more, it really does have a lot going on!

The Royal Palace:

Located a slight walk from the main thoroughfare of Luang Prabang, the Royal Palace is a great place to immerse yourself in the culture of Laos. There is a temple (the beautiful Phra Bang), an art gallery and a theater within the grounds as well as the Palace itself. It’s totally free to enter so is a great way to spend a morning (possibly after the Armsgiving ceremony) so make sure to check it out! Don’t bring a backpack to the site as you’ll be requested to put it into the lockers within the grounds which costs a small fee of 3,000 kips. Be sure to wear some sunscreen and light clothing (while making sure your shoulders and knees are covered) as it gets incredibly hot being outside for a long while!

The Luang Si Waterfalls:

The highlight of Luang Prabang without any doubt in our minds! The Waterfalls are a 30-40 minute drive from the city center but DEFINITELY worth it. It cost us 20,000 kips (about £1.75) each as we went in a group of 10 so got a big discount but you’re looking to pay anywhere between 20-50,000 kips and no more than this. Take our advice and get there early! We arrived just before 8am and were the only ones there which meant the place was completely empty (aka perfect pictures)! It’s not just the waterfall there as the main attraction though. There’s a Bear Sanctuary, several lagoons and even a little wooden boat ride at the top of the hill. Exercise caution hiking the steps/paths as they get very slippery! You’d really be missing out by not going here as it took up a whole day and was great fun!

The Armsgiving Ceremony:

A great way to celebrate the culture and importance of Monks within Luang Prabang. A ceremony where you give food to Monks as they take their walk through the main thoroughfare of the city. It does involve a really early start as the ceremony begins at around 5am but it’s worth doing it at least once as it then allows you to have a full day of exploring afterwards! Buy some sticky rice from one of the many merchants that are dotted around the streets but keep your wits about you. One person in our group almost had their money taken as the lady we purchased the rice from all of a sudden became Usain Bolt and sprinted out of sight (it was absolutely hilarious)! It is a nice way to give back to the monks that wholeheartedly dedicate their lives to Buddhism.

Wat Thammothayaram Thamsouvannakhouha:

It’s quite a mouth-full but the main viewpoint of interest is a temple situated in the hills, known as Wat Thammothayaram Thamsouvannakhouha, just next to the Bamboo Bridge. It’s quite a trek in the heat so make sure you bring water with you (although there is a refreshment stall at the top) and wear light but respectable clothing (shoulders and knees covered). Make sure you check it out though as the views at the top are breathtaking. There are some sacred caves on your climb up too, so check those out as well. Entry was 3,000 Kips per person, a donation that goes to help keeping the paths and temples clean and maintained! It’s about a 30 minute walk up the hills and there are a LOT of steps so take it slow and steady and don’t look down!

Utopia Bar:

Located just near the river (although the streets leading to the bar itself are very confusing), Utopia is a great little haven overlooking the river. The food and cocktails were absolutely incredible and probably the best Western food we ate in all our travels! Seriously, get a pizza there, it was next level stuff. The beauty of the bar though, is the garden area they have just above the river. It’s spacious and has loads of serene chill out spots, which are sometimes needed while travelling, whether you’re puffed out from constant exploring or just had one too many the night before! Teaching morning and afternoon Yoga classes is also the norm at Utopia, utilizing their space well. It turns into a party vibe at night, so let loose and show off those moves! A great place to meet new people and fairly cheap too, check it out!

Architecture/Restaurants/Cafés:

Laos has a big French influence in certain cities, Luang Prabang being one of them. You can expect to find amazing french designs and coffee shops here (more so in Vientiane though). Although we weren’t travelling to look at French architecture or feel like Parisians, we really were taken back by how beautiful the fusion of styles was. There are a plethora of amazing restaurants and bakeries too, see below:

Two Little Birds Café – We didn’t actually eat here but heard incredible things from loads of people in Luang Prabang. Vegan food is their specialty and that’s fine by us!

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g295415-d18817087-Reviews-Two_Little_Birds_Cafe-Luang_Prabang_Luang_Prabang_Province.html

Café Zurich – This place was our favorite place to eat in Luang Prabang! Expensive on a travel budget yes, but worth every penny! They had a great veggie selection and amazing pizzas (we just love Pizza, okay?).

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g295415-d12727003-Reviews-Zurich_Bread_Factory_and_Cafe-Luang_Prabang_Luang_Prabang_Province.html

The Night Market – Unfortunately, we won’t be able to link anything for this one. You’ll find it easily enough though, it’s right in the city center. Great value for money and a few amazing stalls to try all of the local goods! Can you ask for more?

How to Get There:

We arrived in Luang Prabang on the Slow Boat from Chiang Khong in Thailand (read about it in our Slow Boat Experience post below):

If you don’t want to catch the slow boat, you can do a border crossing by bus. You’ll probably do a lot of bus journeys while travelling though, so take the opportunity to experience something different and get the boat! It’s a 3 day journey by boat whereas the bus only takes 1 day so bear that in mind.

Was it Expensive?

The short answer, not in the slightest, no. We ate some incredible food in Luang Prabang, most of which was from the main night market situated in the city center. The best part about it was just how cheap it was, paying 15,000-20,000 Laotian Kips (around £1.75) for a full meal. This makes it incredibly easy to stay within budget. We found ourselves saving so much money per day on food compared to pretty much anywhere in South East Asia. Accommodation prices are also fairly cheap, we stayed somewhere that we wouldn’t recommend which was around £2pp per night (obviously amazingly cheap so we couldn’t complain) but the overall experience wasn’t great to say the least.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read our post on Luang Prabang! If you’ve enjoyed this post, give us a follow on here and on our socials below:

Stay Safe & Much Love,

Matt & Mik

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