A quaint and charming town amidst the rolling green landscape of Northern Laos. It is one of the most laid back places in all of SE Asia, and one my personal favorites. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is no surprise why! There are so many adventurous activities to try in this nature-lovers paradise, not to mention the cute French architecture throughout the town itself. I recommend at least 4 days to get the most out of your time here.
1. Kuang Si Falls
The main attraction in this beautiful city. I bet you've seen that picture a thousand times on your IG feed of the turquoise pools falling into one another, like hundreds of small waterfalls. Yup, this is it! It truly is worth all the hype. It is the most beautiful waterfall I've seen in all my travels thus far. At the bottom you'll see the smaller turquoise pools until you make your way up to the main attraction: the 60 meter high waterfall. It's about a 40 minute drive from town on a paved road, so you could take a motorbike if you wanted. But motorbikes are 80,000 KIP per day and we had a van drive us for 40,000 KIP each, so we figured it's easier to just sit back and enjoy the drive.
Cost: 20,000 KIP entrance + 40,000 KIP transportation
2. Kuang Si Butterfly Park
Hundreds of Lao Butterflies in a beautifully landscaped nature park, just 300m from the Kuang Si Falls entrance. They also have a beautiful lunch terrace with European style food!
Cost: 40,000 KIP ($4.50 USD)
3. Mount Phou Si
A popular "hike" starting right from the main road! I say "hike" because it's actually 300 stairs that lead right to the top. It gives you panoramic views of the city and Mekong river. There is also a golden stupa at the top which is quite beautiful. It only takes about 15 minutes to walk up, so it's definitely a quick and easy thing to do in the city! Cost: 20,000 KIP ($2.30 USD)
4. Mekong River Boat Cruise
This one is pretty self-explanatory- take a cruise up the river! If you go to a tour office they will try to charge you 90,000+ KIP per person or 250,000+ KIP per person for a dinner cruise. DON'T FALL FOR IT! If you simply walk to the river, there are lots of guys just standing around with their own boats and you can bargain with them to get your own private cruise for way cheaper. Our guy started at 150,000 KIP, but we settled on 100,000 KIP for a 1 hr sunset cruise.
Cost: Around 100,000 KIP ($11.50 USD)
5. Pak Ou Caves
Take a boat ride about 25km north of the city along the Mekong River. Buddha images of every shape, size, and style line the caves. It's a historic and sacred site, so please dress and act accordingly!
6. Tak Bak
Also referred to as the "Giving Alms Ceremony." At sunrise monks walk in a single-file line down the main road, and the local people offer food and gifts to them. Please remember this is religious ceremony, so be respectful. Wear respectful clothing, watch from afar, and remain silent. It's becoming more like a paparazzi scene for these monks and that's not what it's about!
A super awesome cafe that overlooks the river. It's a boho-chic or "hipster" vibe, filled with bean bags, fairy lights, and cozy mats. Their motto is "zen by day, groovy by night," and that is completely accurate. They have sunrise yoga for 40,000 KIP ($4.50 USD) and at night enjoy a creative cocktail or Beer Lao with a gorgeous view. The food is delicious and ranges from 40,000-70,000 KIP ($4.50-8 USD), which is honestly a little pricey for the area, but I promise it's worth it. Treat yo'self!
8. Night Market
This night market is awesome! Stands fill the main road with lots of souvenirs and trinkets- clothing, jewelry, bags, artwork- you name it! And there are also food carts at the start of the market- fruit smoothies, desserts, noodles, spring rolls, etc. It's a nice place to take a stroll and admire all of the items that were made! One thing in particular I found very interesting were items made from the aluminum from the bombs dropped during the secret war between 1964-1975. I think it's beautiful how they turned something so horrible and ugly into something beautiful.
9. Lao Massage
Every country has their own typical way of massaging, so I always think it's fun to get one and compare the techniques to other countries! In Laos the massage is more like putting intense pressure on your body through their palm. They use their full body weight to push on you in different places, rather than using their fingers to massage the muscles. It's definitely an interesting experience!
Price: 1 hr full body for 50,000 KIP ($5.73 USD)
10. Work on a Rice Farm
This is an interactive experience where you work on a rice farm for half a day. You get to participate in every step of the process of making rice- from seed to the table! Now this was one of the top things I was interested in doing in Luang Prabang, but unfortunately it was way out of my budget. However, if you have the money I definitely think it would be a once in a lifetime experience.
Price: $52+ USD
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