Landlocked Laos is often overlooked in favour of its neighbours; the postcard-perfect Thailand and Cambodia with the Angkhor Wat. It may not have big name tourist attractions but the country is filled with stunning natural scenery, and nowhere more so than Luang Prabang.
While Vientiane is the capital of the country, it is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang that is the main attraction. In the north of the country, soaring mountains surround this former royal kingdom. It is a small city found where the Mekong River and Nam Khan river meet and is popular for its historical and natural sites. Luang Prabang is compact enough that you can tour the city on foot and with small buildings of French colonial architecture; it is a beautiful and unique place.
There are 32 temples, many with gold roofs, to visit and enjoy. The most notable of these are the Golden City Temple which is one of the oldest and most fascinating temples, Wat Xieng Mouane which is the centrepiece amongst many smaller Buddhist temples on the banks of the river and Wat Mai Suwannapumaram which is both elaborate and peaceful.
The history is well preserved in the city but the beauty of the surrounding hillside is even more impressive. Here are a few things to see and do:
– If you’re looking for a panoramic view of the city then getting up the 300 steps to the stop of this mountain is the perfect place to see it. Wat Chomsi, complete with its golden spire sits up there and is a great place to watch the sunset over the Mekong river and Luang Prabang.
– There are a number of beautiful locations around the likes of Tad Sae and Tad Thong, complete with clear blue ponds and smaller waterfalls, are great for a refreshing swim in the jungle. The most well-known place though is the Kuang Sii waterfall. Complete with a bear sanctuary and butterfly park, this has grown in popularity and boasts several gorgeous cascades. The water may be cold but the hike is breath-taking.
–When you see pictures of trips to Asia, they tend to include a few with people riding elephants. There is a project a little out of town that is great for half day trekking in mountainous surroundings.
– The journey along the Mekong River to get to the Pak Ou caves is perfect to see everyday life in the villages on the banks of the water, and when you get to the end the Buddha Caves are incredible. The thousands of statues on the inside have to be seen to be believed. Consider a short stop at the Whisky Village en-route where you can try local whisky that is mixed with anything from bugs to snakes
These spots are great trips from the city, but back in Luang Prabang there is still plenty to see. The nights are vibrant with a number of markets on show as well as numerous cafes and bars offering al fresco dining. Asia is synonymous with street food and this city is no different. If you’re feeling adventurous then plate up and get involved with cheap all-you-can-eat food from the market stalls.
Flights from the United Kingdom need a stopover and take around 15 hours. Try to miss the monsoon season and start of the summer by going between December and January.
Off the beaten track in Southeast Asia, Luang Prabang is still something of a hidden gem. There’s a laid back vibe to the city that was a tiny mountain kingdom for many years and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
With Buddhist temples around every corner and picture perfect natural scenery, there is plenty to see and do. Whether you are here for a few days or a week, the French-Indochinese architecture-filled old city along with the surrounding mountains and rivers means you will never be short of something to explore.
If you’re looking for a carnival atmosphere then the Lao New Year is the biggest festival in April although the Festival of Lights and boat races at the end of monsoon season see Luang Prabang lit up.
Things to do in Luang Prabang
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Located in Laos, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang is one of the country’s most in-demand locations. The national park is stunning from every angle, with waterfalls, rivers and temples to explore. You can also meet and greet elephants here – an event that you’ll never forget.
When packing for Luang Prabang, remembering the climate is key to enjoying yourself. The weather can be hot and sticky – with humidity a common occurrence year round. Packing quick-drying clothes will definitely help combat any uncomfortable moments, and packing a hat and sunglasses is definitely advised too.
Another thing you’ll want to bring with you is bug repellent. As much of Luang Prabang is located in the depth of the jungle and it won’t be long before you’ll notice the mosquitoes buzzing around. Don’t let them get to you – and make sure you have a strong repellent (and soother just in case).
Luang Prabang has a warm and tropical climate but you’ll notice the months of December and January being slightly cooler – they’re easier to manage. The wet season here lasts from May to October – and you’ll find during these months that humidity will be extremely high – and unbearable for some. Temperatures year round can reach up to 35º C with the average being around 29º C.
Check out our Blog to see some of the amazing experiences Luang Prabang has to offer
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