This post's overview:
- 1 Things you need to know before the trip to Luang Prabang
- 2 18 amazing things to do in Luang Prabang:
- 2.1 Take a sunset cruise along the Mekong River
- 2.2 Walk the Unesco Heritage protected part of Luang Prabang
- 2.3 Visit the night market on Sisavangvong Road
- 2.4 Try local street food
- 2.5 Visit the Kuang Si waterfall
- 2.6 Ride a motorbike
- 2.7 Walk the bamboo bridge
- 2.8 Visit the Buffalo farm
- 2.9 Learn how to harvest rice at Living Lang Farm
- 2.10 Visit the MandaLao elephant sanctuary
- 2.11 Climb the Mount Phou Si
- 2.12 Have a massage
- 2.13 See the most beautiful temples in Luang Prabang
- 2.14 Visit the morning market
- 2.15 Observe the Alm Giving ceremony with the Buddhist monks
- 2.16 Pak Ou Caves
- 2.17 Go trekking
- 2.18 Visit the Pottery village
- 3 Summary of 18 amazing things to do in Luang Prabang
- 4 Some other articles you might like:
In this article, I will share with you the best things to do in Luang Prabang, Laos. It doesn’t matter if you are only planning your trip to Laos or you’re already there; here are 18 amazing things you can do in Luang Prabang.
Things you need to know before the trip to Luang Prabang
Before we start with the best things to do in Luang Prabang, I’d like to answer some frequently asked questions about the city.
How to get to Luang Prabang?
One of the most important questions is how to get to Luang Prabang. The easiest way of getting there is by plane. You can fly there directly from Bangkok, Chiang May and Hanoi (perhaps, a few other locations as well, but not as frequently). If you’re flying to Vientiane first, you can also take a speed train, which takes around 4 hours; however, buying tickets is somewhat problematic, as there is no way to buy the tickets online, and the sales only open 2 days before the travel date. You can also take an overnight bus from Hanoi or Vientiane. You can also get there by ferry, but it might take a couple of days!
Check the prices and availability of flights to Luang Prabang here >
Is Luang Prabang safe?
If you’re wondering whether Luang Prabang is safe or not, I can assure you that it’s very safe. Luang Prabang is a tiny city, and the locals are genuinely friendly. Of course, I have a perspective or a tourist – someone, who spent less than a week in Luang Prabang, but the only crime I’ve heard of there was the motorbike theft scam, where the people, who you rent the bike from, find the bike and steal it from the street and then ask you to pay them a full price of the “stolen bike”. Thus, I only recommend renting bikes from trusted companies with many positive reviews.
Is Luang Prabang expensive? How expensive is Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang can be both very affordable and pretty expensive. It’s an idyllic town, so there are a few ultra-luxurious hotels like Belmond, Rosewood and AMAN. Ordinary resorts are also not too cheap; you can prepare to pay £120-130 per night. However, if you want to stay on a budget, there are plenty of very cheap hostels around.
Food is very cheap in Luang Prabang – you can eat well for less than £10 per day for 3 meals. If you eat street food, you can perhaps survive with just £5 a day.
Tours and excursions can also be pretty affordable unless you buy them from hotels and tour agencies. The cheapest way to do sightseeing is by either renting a motorbike (you can get a nice one for less than $5 a day) or hiring a taxi and sharing it with multiple people. Taxi drivers charge $20-30 for a trip to the waterfalls & some landmarks on the way, so if you split it between 4 people, that’s just $5-$7 per person.
Overall, Luang Prabang was one of the most affordable places we have visited in the last few years!
How long should I stay in Luang Prabang?
A lot of people come to Luang Prabang to work remotely, and why wouldn’t they? The weather is great, everything is affordable, the scenery is amazing, and the internet is great. However, if you’re coming as a tourist, how many days would be enough? I’d say in 3 days; you will be able to see most of the things around Luang Prabang and inside the city. However, if you want to take it slow and rest, I would say that maybe 4-5 days would be even better.
If you don’t have too much time, then 2 days would also be okay. However, these 2 days will have to be quite busy.
Where to stay in Luang Prabang?
Finally, let’s discuss accommodation and where to stay in Luang Prabang. We stayed at the Bel Air Resort with stunning river views. However, the location wasn’t the best because every time we needed to go somewhere (all the places except for the airport were across the river), we had to cross a very scary bridge. Not the lovely Bamboo bridge, but the Old French Bridge that looked like it was on the verge of collapse, with missing wooden planks and nails sticking out everywhere. Unlike the Bamboo bridge, this bridge was very high in the air, and any fall would have been lethal.
Instead, I recommend staying at the following places:
Very affordable but pretty nice place to stay in Luang Prabang: Villa Ouis
Without further ado, let’s get started!
18 amazing things to do in Luang Prabang:
Take a sunset cruise along the Mekong River
My absolute favourite thing to do in Luang Prabang was taking a sunset cruise along the Mekong River. If you can only do one thing, that would be the thing I recommend doing in Laos. There are plenty of cruise options – from some really fancy cruises that include a 3-course dinner to some very simple boats. You don’t need to book in advance, just head to Khem Khong Street, and many boat owners’ll approach you. We found a flyer advertising a sunset cruise for $5.5 per person from Svan Mekong Cruises (that’s the spelling) in one of the businesses (I think you can buy it from Mekong Eden House) and were extremely lucky – there were no other tourists that day and we were the only ones on this cruise!
The boat was also lovely – it had bean bags and cosy seats, and we could also buy beers and wine there (for an extra fee, but it was very affordable as well).
It gets pretty chilly at night, especially in December/January, but we were offered blankets, which was very thoughtful and amazing.
If you’re interested in a dinner cruise, you can check this cruise online here.
Walk the Unesco Heritage protected part of Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994, and that was totally deserved – Luang Prabang is very pretty. One of the best things you can do in Luang Prabang is to wear comfortable shoes and for for a walk or a bike ride around the Old Town – there are plenty of beautiful streets!
Visit the night market on Sisavangvong Road
Sisavangvong Road is the most famous, busy and popular street in Luang Prabang. It gets especially crowded in the evening, around 6pm, when the night market opens. The night market in Luang Prabang has plenty of stalls selling clothes, souvenirs and art. I’d say it’s mainly aimed at tourists, but it’s a must-visit attraction anyway.
Try local street food
Right at the start of the Night Market, there is a permanent street food market in Luang Prabang. Most stalls open around 6pm and are in full swing by 7pm and 8pm. However, if you come later, at 9pm or 10pm, you will still be able to find some open stalls at this market.
Street food in Laos is very unique – you can either try multiple small dishes from the stalls (e.g. all sorts of skewers) or get proper dishes in the restaurant stalls on the other side of the market (next to the big screen). The most popular dish in Laos is Laap – a meat or fish salad, which is delicious but very spicy. Actually, most dishes in Laos are very, very spicy! Even Jose couldn’t eat some of the dishes – and he was born and raised in Mexico, a country with a lot of spicy food and people snacking on chillies.
If you are tired of spicy food, consider asking for a soup. Soups in Laos are generally not spicy!
Visit the Kuang Si waterfall
One of the main attractions of Luang Prabang is located outside the city, circa 45 minutes away. You can either get there by motorbike, buy a tour or hire a taxi that will wait for you there for 3-4 hours for $20 for a day. Alternatively, you can get there by boat if you buy a tour (that combines Kuang Si Waterfalls and Pak Ou caves, for example) – you can book a tour online here.
Entrance to Kuang Si costs around $2.5 per person, and you can swim in some of the pools there. However, it gets very busy! There isn’t much hiking/walking near Kuang Si. However, you will also visit a tiny village next to the waterfall, which is lovely & very authentic. If you’re hungry, don’t worry, there will be a lot of food options in the village right at the entrance to the waterfall.
Overall, if you’re not planning to swim, you can visit the waterfall and the village in about 45 minutes to 1 hour. In this case, if you hired a taxi, just like we did, you can also ask your taxi driver to stop at the buffalo farm or at the rice farm right outside Luang Prabang.
Ride a motorbike
Another of the 15+ amazing things to do in Luang Prabang is riding a bike. If you’ve never driven one before, consider taking the lessons. You can also hire an electric motorbike that’s not so fast & dangerous. It’s really fun to drive around Luang Prabang on a motorbike, and you’ll be able to access a lot of attractions easily!
Walk the bamboo bridge
One of the attractions of Luang Prabang is the Bamboo Bridge across the Nam Khan River. It’s only open 6 months a year and gets rebuilt every year as it gets destroyed once the water levels rise. You need to pay 10,000 kips ($0.6) per person to cross the bridge, but it’s worth it. If you’re visiting outside the rainy season, you should definitely try to cross it at least once!
Visit the Buffalo farm
A couple of the expats opened a buffalo farm outside Luang Prabang a few years ago, and ever since it became an attraction. You can come to the farm to try a few cheeses made of buffalo milk and buffalo ice cream. You can also take a tour around the farm (I think it costs around $10 per person) and learn more about the farm and even feed baby buffalos from a bottle.
Learn how to harvest rice at Living Lang Farm
Another exciting thing to do in Luang Prabang is visit a rice farm located just outside Luang Prabang, near the Pullman Hotel. You can even walk there from the town centre. It’s called Living Land Farm. You can participate in planting and harvesting rice and, in general, learn more about growing rice and the importance of rice in Laos. You can learn more on their website here.
Visit the MandaLao elephant sanctuary
You can also visit the MandaLao elephant sanctuary, where you can have a non-riding experience (trek next to them) with elephants, learn more about elephants in Laos and help elephant conservation. You can learn more about the experience here.
Climb the Mount Phou Si
One of the must-visit places in Luang Prabang is Mount Phou Si – located right in the heart of the city; this mountain has a beautiful temple on the top of it. There are plenty of stairs to climb. However, the views from there are well worth it. The ticket to enter the upper part of Mount Phou Si costs circa $1 per person.
Have a massage
If you feel stressed or just want to relax, Luang Prabang is a great place to have a massage! There are plenty of massage parlours all around Luang Prabang, and most of them are very affordable! Of course, there are luxury massage parlours as well, so you have plenty of options for any budget.
See the most beautiful temples in Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang has so many stunning temples, monasteries and stupas. The most beautiful is undoubtedly Haw Pha Bang, located right at the bottom of Mount Phou Si. There is also Wat Wisunarat, which is more spiritual and way less touristy and Wat Sen. There are so many temples in the Old Town that it’s probably impossible to visit them all!
Visit the morning market
Luang Prabang has many markets! After the night market, the second most famous market would be the morning market, where you can find a lot of local produce & groceries. It opens every day at 5am and closes at 10am. You can find it next to the Ananta Villa Hotel.
Observe the Alm Giving ceremony with the Buddhist monks
If you’re an early bird and you would like to observe a very unique, beautiful ceremony that is very important to locals, head to the Old Town around 5:30am. It’s a ceremony where local Buddhists offer alms (homemade sticky rice) to the monks. However, unless you’re a Buddhist, you shouldn’t participate. Instead, you can quietly observe the ceremony. You can also take photos (without a flash), but make sure you’re not in the way and not obstructing anyone.
Pak Ou Caves
Pak Ou Caves are often visited as part of a tour. It’s a significant site for locals, especially Buddhists, and they are absolutely crammed with thousands of Buddha images. Visitors often combine Pak Ou Caves with Kuang Si Waterfalls, e.g. this tour visits both landmarks!
If you’re into sports and would enjoy something that includes moving and beautiful sceneries, then you should definitely go trekking outside Luang Prabang! You can either research the routes yourself and then head there using taxis or buy a trekking tour like this one. Either way, you will definitely enjoy trekking in such stunning scenery.
Visit the Pottery village
Finally, you can also visit the pottery village located in Ban Chan, very close to Luang Prabang (just on the other side of Mekong river), where you can participate in a pottery workshop and even have a dining experience. If that sounds like something you would enjoy, you can learn more and book a tour here.
Summary of 18 amazing things to do in Luang Prabang
I hope that in this article, you found some interesting places that you would like to visit in Luang Prabang. Of course, there are more things to do in the town and its surroundings, but I could only write about the things we enjoyed the most / or heard from friends that they were amazing and definitely worth doing or visiting.