About Luang Prabang:
Luang Prabang is a city in northern Laos, located at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Laos until 1975 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Luang Prabang is known for its beautiful Buddhist temples, traditional architecture, and scenic natural surroundings. Some of the most famous temples in the city include Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Mai, and Wat Visounnarath. These temples feature intricate carvings, colourful murals, and stunning Buddha statues.
In addition to its temples, Luang Prabang is also known for its night market, which features a wide range of handicrafts, textiles, and other souvenirs. Visitors can also enjoy traditional Lao cuisine, which includes dishes such as larb, a spicy minced meat salad, and sticky rice.
For those who enjoy outdoor activities, Luang Prabang offers a variety of activities, including hiking, biking, and kayaking. One popular activity is climbing the stair of Mount Phousi, which offers panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside.
Overall, Luang Prabang is a charming and historic city that offers a glimpse into Laos’ rich cultural heritage.
From Khon Kaen (Thailand):
We departed from Khon Kaen, Thailand, and opted for four different modes of transportation to reach Luang Prabang and return. We began with a Thai minibus from Khon Kaen to Udon Thani at 7 am, with a fare of 95 baht per person. After that, and a 30-minute stopover in Udon Thani, we switched to another minibus and travelled for 45 minutes to Nong Khai. ( 45 Baht per pers)
Once in Nong Khai, we went to Hong Travel, where we purchase our train tickets online in advance, for the Vientiane to Luang Prabang route at 1,100 baht per person for a 2nd class ticket. Those interested in buying train tickets in Laos via Hong Travel in Nong Khai can do so by reaching out on Line: deaw8669, and the travel agency’s location can be found on this map: https://goo.gl/maps/7rNgemyZQoS2ip9H9.
It’s important to note that No Asians will need a visa to enter Laos. Thai citizens receive a free visa for 30 days. Foreigners can apply for a visa online in advance or obtain one at the border for 1700 baht and a passport photo.
In addition, to ease our travels, we hired a taxi ( 600 Bahts) to take us to the Vientiane Train Station and also helped us change our sim card to a Laos sim card while we processed our visa, which saved us some time.
Upon arrival at the Vientiane Train Station, there isn’t much to do as it’s located in a remote area, but there are some restaurants outside the station. The check-in process is fast and smooth, similar to an airport.
The train itself offers comfortable seats with ample legroom. Passengers can purchase snacks and drinks from the wagon bar, and a hostess also passes by offering refreshments for sale. For us, the two-hour journey hasn’t offered much in terms of scenic views, (our window passenger closed the shades).
After passing through multiple tunnels following Vang Vieng, the train arrives at the Luang Prabang railway station. From there, you will have the option of choosing between private or shared mini-vans to reach the town, with prices ranging from 150,000 to 250,000 Kips (300-500 Baht).
the local currency is the Kips, but US Dollars or Thai Baht are also accepted.
The Hotel: Saynamkhan River view Luang Prabang
Originally a commercial building, the main structure of Saynamkhan Hotel was constructed in 1937 during the French colonial era (1893-1953).
This period introduced brick masonry in secular architecture. The French also brought slanted shutters to Luang Prabang. Shutters allowed for ventilation, and they were soon added to local residences.
This French colonial-style building is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List as House No. 323.
We had a lovely 3-day stay at the Saynamkhan River View hotel, which I would highly recommend. The room was extremely comfortable, spacious, and impeccably clean. While it’s worth noting that not all rooms offer a view of the river, the terrace and breakfast area do provide a stunning view. Speaking of breakfast, it was absolutely delicious – fresh bread, croissants, and an array of fruits made for a delightful start to each day.
If you’re unsure of where to go or what to visit in town, don’t hesitate to ask the staff for suggestions. They can offer recommendations, make bookings for you, provide maps and even offer motorbike rental services. In fact, the staff was great and very polite.
Beautiful Nature with Kuangsi Waterfall:
Kuangsi Waterfall is a must-see attraction in Luang Prabang. It’s a beautiful cascade with turquoise blue water located about 28 km from the city.
Visitors can swim in the refreshing pools at the bottom of the waterfall and take a short hike through the surrounding forest to reach the top of the waterfall. Along the hike, there are several viewpoints where you can enjoy the scenic beauty of the waterfall.
Near the entrance is a bear sanctuary where rescued Asiatic black bears are housed. Visitors can observe the bears playing and resting in their natural habitat.
We recommended visiting early in the morning to avoid the crowds and enjoy the peacefulness of the waterfall. To get there, you can rent a motorbike or hire a tuk-tuk or taxi. Admission fee ( 25,000 Kips/50 Baths).
We opted to rent a motorbike for our journey, which proved to be easy and convenient transportation. Following the road signs or using GPS made it simple to find the way to the fall and we encountered a well-maintained road with minimal potholes. We reached our destination in just 40 minutes, and along the way, you will find coffee shops and restaurants. Some even offered stunning views of the nearby paddy fields or the Mekong River.
At the beginning of the Kuangsi Waterfall Trek, you’ll come across a 2-way path. To the right, there’s a small trail that stretches for about 1 kilometre. This route takes you past numerous waterfalls and the bear sanctuary. On the other hand, if you choose to go left, you’ll follow a straight path leading to the peak of the hill where the main waterfall is.
Visiting Phou si Hill (Mount Phu Si)
Phousi Hill is a popular tourist destination in Luang Prabang. It’s a small hill located in the centre of the city. Visitors can climb to the top of the hill via a staircase with over 300 steps. Along the way, there are several resting spots where you can catch your breath and admire the surrounding scenery.
After the first few stairs, to the right, there is a footprint of Buddha. As you climb the stair you’ll come across another sacred site on the second part and there, there’s a small cave that you can visit by passing to the right of the Buddha.
At the top of Phousi Hill, you’ll find a beautiful golden stupa, Wat Chom Si, and several other small temples. The panoramic view from the top of the hill is breathtaking, and it’s stunning during sunrise or sunset.
It’s best to visit Phousi Hill early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the heat of the day. Admission fees apply. ( 25,000 Kips/50 baths).
Luang Prabang Night Market
Luang Prabang Night Market is a popular market held every night from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. It is located in the city centre on Sisavangvong Street and spans several blocks.
The night market offers a variety of local handicrafts, such as clothes, bags, jewellery, wood carvings and traditional Lao fabrics. There are also many food stalls offering local dishes such as khao soi (a noodle curry), meat skewers, sticky rice and exotic fruits.
This market attracts a large number of tourists, so it’s advisable to arrive early if you plan to eat there. The most delicious food can be found on a small street nestled between the Indigo Cafe and the tourism office.
Food and Drinks Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang’s cuisine reflects the cultural heritage of Laos as well as influences from neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and China. Local dishes are often prepared with fresh and healthy ingredients, such as aromatic herbs, vegetables, spices and grilled meats.
Sticky rice is an important staple of Lao cuisine and is often served with spicy meat or fish dishes. Khao soi, a noodle curry, is also very popular, as are grilled meat skewers and green papaya salads.
As for drinks, coffee and tea are very popular in Luang Prabang. Coffee is often served with sweetened condensed milk, while tea is usually consumed without sugar and sometimes flavoured with local herbs. Fresh fruit juices, especially tamarind juice and coconut juice, are also popular.
Also, Luang Prabang is known for its production of Lao rice whiskey, called “lao lao”. This drink is flavoured with local herbs and is usually consumed during celebrations and festive events.
Beer lovers, you have to taste local beers like the Lao or the Luang Prabang beer. T56 is a great spot to have a cold beer and watch the sunset…
Recommended place to go:
To eat a Khao Soi: The Lao Noodle, Map: https://goo.gl/maps/tWqRavxiqTJJmWXV6
The best place to have a beer is at Sunset… T56 bar
Cool coffee shop in the morning … the small coffee shop in front of Sala Prabang guesthouse… Map: https://goo.gl/maps/AKTpddgiEPazaPYh8
Gelato del Lao (ice cream)
There are many temples in Luang Prabang, a city known for its rich cultural and religious heritage. Here are a few notable ones:
- Wat Xiengthong is one of the oldest and most important temples in Luang Prabang. On the north bank of the Mekong River and known for its elegant architecture and gold and red decorations.
- Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham located in the city centre is one of the best-known and most visited temples. Famous for its five-tiered roof decorated with gold and red patterns.
- Wat Wisunarat was built in the 14th century and is known for its unusually shaped stupa, which looks like a watermelon cut in half. It is located in the city centre and is easily accessible on foot.
- Wat Sensoukharam is located near the night market and is famous for its golden walls and beautifully decorated interior.
- Wat Aham small temple located near Wat Mai and known for its sacred tree and detailed wooden carvings
Walking or biking the town
Luang Prabang is a beautiful town in Laos; walking and biking are great ways to explore the town. Walking allows you to take your time and appreciate the town at a slower pace. You can easily explore any shops, cafes, or temples that catch your eye.
It’s nice to walk at the end of the afternoon along the shores of the Mekong or the Kham River. By walking or biking, you will appreciate the architecture of some of the houses or building there, sidewalks are very empty of any kind of business and easy to walk on.
However, keep in mind that Luang Prabang is quite hilly in places, so be prepared for some uphill climbs. Luang Prabang has several bike rental shops, and bikes are relatively inexpensive to rent.
..best place to walk… along the shores of the Mekong River along all the bars, restaurants and guesthouses…
Two days in Luang Prabang simply isn’t enough – we’ll have to return for at least a week! There’s just so much to see and do in this fantastic town, which is quiet during the day and lively in the evening. Nestled between the Mekong River and the Nam Khan River, we believe it to be one of the most beautiful cities in Laos.
Stay tuned to this blog as we share the best addresses in Luang Prabang.
Our return to Thailand was a classic – we took an Air Asia flight to Bangkok but then opted for something that not many tourists know about. We took the Bangkok-Khon Kaen bus service provided by Nackhonchai Air. It’s not an airline, but a VIP bus service that offers a 6-hour drive for 625 baht. It’s an excellent alternative to taking a flight or train.
Luang Prabang is a city located in northern Laos, on the banks of the Mekong River.
The best time to visit Luang Prabang is during the dry season, from November to March. The weather is cool and pleasant during this time, making it ideal for sightseeing and outdoor activities.
Luang Prabang is known for its stunning Buddhist temples, including Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham, and Wat Visounnarath. Other popular attractions include the Kuang Si Waterfalls, the Royal Palace Museum, and the Night Market.
The local cuisine in Luang Prabang is influenced by both Lao and French cooking. Some popular dishes include larb (a spicy minced meat salad), khao soi (a noodle soup with coconut milk and meat), and baguette sandwiches.
The currency used in Luang Prabang is the Lao kip (LAK). US dollars and Thai baht are also widely accepted.
Luang Prabang has an international airport with direct flights from several Asian cities. You can also reach Luang Prabang by bus or boat from other parts of Laos and neighbouring countries.
The best way… the bullet train The Boten–Vientiane ( Vientiane- Luang Prabang +/- 2 hours for 1100 Baht.