Luang Prabang – Laos

This old French Colonial town in northern Laos is so beautiful that it’s earned UNESCO world heritage status year after year. (Think HoiAn in Vietnam but without the crowds and inflated prices.)

Things To Do: (Daytime)

The Bamboo Experience was the most expensive thing we did in Laos, though it was worth every penny. You’ll learn all about the uses for Bamboo and how local people use it in their every day life, for building, hunting, cooking and crafts etc. A half day trip costs 336,000 kip per person and includes hotel pick up, lunch and you get to make your own souvenir to take home. Click HERE for their website.

That Phu Si, the walk to the top of the hill takes around 15 minutes each way and visitors need to pay 20,000 each. Apparently sun rise and sun set gets busy but we visited during the day and enjoyed the place to ourselves, the views of the city are worth the short but steep walk.

For 6 months during the year there is a bamboo bridge that provides access over the river for local people. Visitors are asked to pay 5,000 each to support the family who rebuild the bridge each year. When tides get too high the bridge needs to be removed.

The Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre highlights the crafts and cultural difference between the many ethnic minorities within Laos today. The museum is small but fits a lot in and it’s really interesting.

The Royal Palace is interesting if you can get in, the opening times seem to change regularly. Tickets are 30,000 per person, they are very strict about not taking photos inside. The palace grounds are also impressive.

The Tad Sae Waterfall is about 30 minutes from the town centre in a tuk-tuk, from the parking area you need to take a very short boat ride to the base of the falls. Unfortunately we visited during dry season so there wasn’t much of a waterfall but in wet season this is by far one of the best things to do in Laos. Boat trips cost 10,000 the entry to the falls is 15,000.

The mighty Mekong Rover runs along side town, either hire a bike and cycle as far as you can or hire a boat for 1 hour, there are lots of people trying to sell boat trips as you walk past. This is also a really good spot for sunset photographs.

Thing To Do. : (Nighttime)

The night market in Luang Prabang is huge, it’s completely catered toward tourists (think elephant pattern trousers and Laos flag t-shirts), if you plan on picking up any souvenirs in Laos, wait until you get to this market.

There is a free black and white movie played at the Victoria Xiengthong Palace Hotel, ‘Chang 1925’ was the first movie about Laos, filmed in a documentary style following one local family for 18 months. The movie plays every day at 7pm, it’s free but they expect you to buy a drink (and every drink comes with free popcorn).

The town theatre is inside the royal palace complex, we went to see a traditional dance show but their performance schedule changes all the time so it’s best to visit the ticket office during the daytime. The cheapest seats we 100,000 but we still had a perfect view of the stage.

L’Etronger Books and Tea store play a different movie every night in their lounge area, the movie is free but your expected to buy a drink. Check out their Facebook page to find out what they are playing that week.

Where To Eat:

Indian – Chennai Restaurant is not only delicious but it’s also the perfect place to watch the sun set on the Mekong river.

Local – House 47/5, B Xieng Mouane (it’s on the weekend walking street), the local food here is cooked fresh and each dish is around 20,000 kip.

Getting There:

From the airport a taxi will cost around 50,000. A mini bus from Vang Vieng takes around 5 hours and costs 105,000 per person. Night buses travel to Vientiane every night but we heard a few horror stories about those.

Where To Stay:

The Nocknoy Lanexang Guesthouse was a beautiful little place, the rooms were clean and the cocked to order breakfast was good. Located in a lovely street just a few minutes walk from the town centre. We paid £17 per night through hotels.com.

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