Luang Prabang is a city steeped in history and culture. Once the capital of the Kingdom of Laos, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and a popular destination for travelers from all over the world. Luang Prabang is known for its many ornate temples, delicious food, and friendly people. With its blend of traditional Laos culture and French colonial influences, Luang Prabang is a truly unique place to visit. Here is Luang Prabang travel guide 2023: Best thing to do & see.
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General information about Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang is located in central Laos. The city is considered one of the most beautiful in Southeast Asia, and this reputation is well-earned: Luang Prabang is a popular tourist destination and is known for its relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. It is accessible by flights into Luang Prabang International Airport, roads (that may be in poor condition at times) via sleeper buses from Hanoi, boats or barges down the Mekong River, or rail from Boten (bordering China). The local currency is the kip. Learn more: Luang prabang temple
Luang Prabang travel guide: Cost
There are 2 popular options for accommodation in Luang Prabang:
- Hostels: A few excellent hostels may be found in Luang Prabang (and a lot of them are not, so be aware when you book. A dormitory bed costs about 75,000 LAK (4.34 USD) per night. Starting at 115,000 LAK (6.65 USD) are private rooms. Free Wi-Fi is offered, and many hostels offer free breakfast as well. However, not all hostels have kitchens.
- Budget hotel prices are often between LAK 400,000 LAK (2.32 USD) and 900.000 LAK (52 USD) per night unless you’re staying outside of the city. A two or three-star hotel will cost you more than LAK 1,000,000 (58 USD) each night. As a result, you should use hostels rather than online booking services.
Foods: Similar to its neighbors Vietnam and Cambodia, Laos is the nation that consumes the most sticky rice globally. Additionally, one of the most well-liked foods in Laos is pho.
Green papaya salad and laap, sometimes known as larb, are other well-known staples (a minced-meat salad that is the national dish, usually featuring fermented fish). Chicken, hog, and duck are some of the most well-liked grilled meats.
Beer in Luang Prabang is very cheap, about 14000 LAK (0.81USD). For coffee drinks like cappuccino or latte, it’s about 30000 LAK (1.73 USD).
If you want to eat spicy papaya salad, grilled meat or grilled chicken, visit the night market in Luang Prabang. The food at the night market is usually much cheaper (under 22000 LAK – 1.27 USD) and the cuisine is more diverse
Best time to visit Luang Prabang
The best time to visit Luang Prabang is in the dry season, which runs from October to April. This is when the weather is at its best, with clear skies and warm temperatures. It’s also the busiest time of year, so you’ll need to book your accommodation and activities in advance. If you’re looking for a more relaxed experience, consider visiting in the wet season (May to September). The weather is still pleasant at this time of year, but there are fewer tourists and you may be able to get better deals on accommodation and activities.
Luang Prabang travel guide: How to get around
Luang Prabang’s lack of a public transport system means that you have to take care of your own transportation. The city center can be navigated on foot. If you need to travel further, here are your options:
- Bike rentals: This is an accessible option for people with the physical ability or the driving license to operate a bike. Motorbikes and bicycles for rent can be found lined up on the streets almost around the corner everywhere.
- Tuk-Tuk: Exercise your haggling skills. The drivers for these special cars will hike up the price for tourists; they are both unique and the best way to travel, as “traditional” taxis are almost inexistent here. The best option is to hire a tuk-tuk for the entire day, with prices starting at 100,000 kips.
Best thing to do & see in Luang Prabang
Explore the Buddha Caves
25 km away from the city is a set of caves, Tham Ting and Tham Theung, collectively called the Pak Ou Caves, or Buddha Caves. They received this name because of hundreds of miniature figures of the Buddha in various poses – standing, reclining, meditating, teaching, walking – all laid out on shelves within the caves.
Visit the Royal Palace
The Royal Palace of Luang Prabang is a relatively recent construction, having been built in 1904, and was occupied only until 1975 when the monarchy was overthrown. Today, the palace is a national museum and an example of the blend between traditional Lao architecture and Beaux-Arts style. Visitors can see royal objects on display, including the Pha Bang (a statue of the Buddha signifying the right of kings to rule Lao), the Crown Jewels, in addition to gifts both from fellow socialist as well as capitalist countries.
Address: 27 Ounheun Rd, Luang Prabang, Laos
Climb Mount Phousi
Conquering the 328-step staircase and reaching the top of this mountain will net you the ultimate reward: a magnificent view of the surrounding lands and the majestic Mekong River, bathed in the golden dawn or scarlet sunset. The Phousi mountain is home to not one but two temples: Wat Chom Si at the top with its golden stupa, and Wat Tham Phou Si halfway up the hill.
See the sunset along the Mekong River
River cruises are available for tourists wishing to ford the waters of this stunning river, which begins in China, then flows through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia, before finally exiting into Vietnamese seas. These trips offer travelers the opportunity to gaze upon the mountains and rural landscapes, all while surrounded by a lavish, comfortable cruise, and being served delightful food and drinks
Trek to the Kuang Si Falls
This three-tiered waterfall is an excellent travel stop on scorching days. You can get here by group tours, or just hire your own tuk-tuk. Although some are closed as sacred sites, most of its turquoise pools are open for swimming. The water is quite cold, though, so it’s advised to at least bring a towel with you so that you can dry yourself off if you can’t swim after all. There is an admission charge of 20,000 kips, which helps the management keep the walkways and bridges in good condition and the location accessible.
Food & drink must-try in Luang Prabang
If you’re visiting Luang Prabang, be sure to try some of the following dishes and beverages:
- Khao soi: a coconut curry soup served with hand-cut egg or rice noodles and chicken.
- Laab: a minced meat salad that is often made with pork or chicken. It is intended to be eaten raw, but you can ask for it to be cooked.
- Tam khanun: a salad made from pounded jackfruit with spices, creating a unique flavor profile that is simultaneously salty, sweet, spicy, and sour.
- Sticky rice: Glutinous white rice is often served with Lao dishes.
- Beerlao: the national beer of Laos, which is available in both light and dark varieties.
Luang Prabang travel guide: Where to stay
When it comes to accommodation, there are a few different options to choose from. You can stay in a hotel, a guesthouse, or a hostel. Hostels are usually the cheapest option, but they also tend to be the most basic. Guesthouses are a step up from hostels, offering more amenities and usually a more comfortable stay. Hotels are the most expensive option, but they also offer the most amenities and the best level of comfort. When deciding where to stay in Luang Prabang, it is important to consider your budget and what you are looking for in terms of comfort and amenities.
Suggesting Backpacking Luang Prabang
To make your trip to Luang Prabang easier, here are suggestions for what to prepare in your backpack on 3 days:
Backpacking for Men
- 1 pair of jeans or kaki
- 2 pairs of shorts
- 3 T-shirts
- 6 pairs of socks
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 razor
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of shower gel
- 1 towel
Small Medical Kit (It really important)
- Antibacterial cream
- Hand sanitizer
- Allergy medicine
- Zip-lock bags (keeps things from leaking or exploding)
- Plastic bags (great for laundry)
- Universal charger/adaptor (this applies to everyone)
- LifeStraw (A water bottle with a purifier)
Backpacking for Woman
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 sarong
- 2 pair of stretchy jeans (they wash and dry easily)
- 2pair of leggings (if the weather’s cold)
- 2-3 long-sleeve tops
- 2-3 T-shirts
- 1 light cardigan
- 1 dry shampoo spray & talc powder
- The makeup you use (But you should you small kit)
- Feminine hygiene products
In addition, the medical kit is an indispensable item
Shopping in Luang Prabang
The city is a great place to shop, with a wide range of markets, stores, and malls to explore. If you’re looking for souvenirs, you can find everything from traditional Laos textiles to handmade jewelry at the Luang Prabang Night Market. Antique lovers and history aficionados can visit Pathana Boupha Antique House, where you may walk away with not just a souvenir of your time in Luang Prabang but also interesting anecdotes and new information, courtesy of the friendly and knowledgeable owner. Ock Pop Tok Living Crafts Centre offers demonstrations, workshops, and opportunities to purchase local fabrics such as silk and batik. For more everyday items, there are plenty of supermarkets and department stores.
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