Encircled by mountains, the town of Luang Prabang in northern Laos is a picturesque discovery of lush greenery, French-inspired architecture and tranquility.
With its gleaming temples and bustling markets, not to mention azure waterfalls, it is easy to see why the former Laotian capital was named as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO.
What to See in Luang Prabang: Natural Beauty
Popular with locals and tourists alike, the Luang Prabang waterfall known as Kuang Si Falls are the perfect antidote to a hot Laotian afternoon. English-speaking guides are on hand to explain the cultural significance of the area where Hmong and Khmu communities sell a host of different handicrafts — the perfect holiday souvenir.
The Falls are not the only natural beauty in the area; Kuang Si Butterfly Park offers curious visitors a glimpse into the country’s memorable flora and fauna.
What to See in Luang Prabang: Culture
Home to the former royal palace, ornate temples and stunning architecture, there is no shortage of things to do in Luang Prabang. It is the ideal destination for cultural exploration, whether one wishes to discover Buddhist temples or admire the French colonial architecture in the Old Quarter.
Done with expanding your collection of photos of beautiful buildings and wondering what to do next in Luang Prabang? For a truly immersive Luang Prabang experience, get up before sunrise and head to the town’s morning market for a chance to observe tak bat — a morning ritual of local monks walking in single file through the city streets to collect alms. After this peaceful start the market comes alive. Stroll amongst stalls of freshly caught fish and local vegetables, and perhaps breakfast on khao nom kok: tiny cakes made from flour and coconut cream, eaten piping hot, straight from the pan.
Where to Go in Luang Prabang: Food
Traditional Laotian cuisine is a feast for all the senses, marrying the light, fragrant touch of Vietnamese dishes with the rich aromas of Thailand.
Luang Prabang also has its own signature dishes, ranging from sai oua, a type of spicy sausage that can be seen air-drying all over town, to Luang Prabang salad, a leafy throwback to French colonial times: a creation of cucumber and hard-boiled eggs livened up with local ingredients such as watercress, peanuts and fried shallots.
As for where to go in Luang Prabang to try these local dishes, Dyen Sabai Restaurant is a hidden gem across the Nam Khan river, accessible by bamboo bridge or boat, depending on the season. Its signature dish is Laotian fondue, where meats are grilled over a barbecue and the resulting juices are allowed to flow into the surrounding hotpot.
For picturesque riverside dining, Tamarindboasts seasonal menus that showcase the wide variety of flavours Laotian cuisine has to offer. The restaurant also hosts cooking classes where you can learn to cook local delicacies such as herbed fish steamed in banana leaves, known as mok pa.
Where to Go in Luang Prabang: Drink
When the sun goes down it’s worth heading over to Utopia, where drinks are iterally a laid-back experience — the bar comes complete with reclining chairs that overlook the river. The venue hosts yoga classes in the morning and live music in the evenings for a day-long Utopic experience.
Continue your evening with a cocktail or two at the warmly lit Icon Klub, where a quick stop for a dirty martini could spontaneously unfold into a night of song, dance or poetry.
Set apart from other bars by its classy, monochrome setting, a night of cocktails and tapas at 525 Baris bound to be memorable. Pick your poison from an impressive selection of spirits and be sure to sample the bar snacks on offer.
An institution on the Luang Prabang nightlife scene, Dao Fah is the place where locals let their hair down. Be prepared for a neon-lit night of live music, impromptu karaoke and DJs spinning a mix of both English and Laotian tunes.
Night or day, Luang Prabang has plenty to offer every traveller.