Luang Prabang - The Place You must visit when arrive Laos
When talking of Luang Prabang it is hard not to employ superlatives, and pretty much everyone who has spent time in the town does. The ancient town of Luang Prabang situated in northern Laos, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
Luang Prabang, Laos
Luang Prabang is a place where history, atmosphere, and terrain combine to create something of astonishing beauty. Set in the northern mountains where the Nam Khan tributary joins the Mekong, the surrounding hills are rugged, jungle clad, and spectacular. The town itself is a magical mixture of some of the most ancient and exquisite Buddhist temples in the region combined with the sort of intimate French colonial architecture that often makes towns in Indochina so atmospheric.
Luang Prabang is located in the north of Laos. It was the antique royal capital of Lan Xang Kingdom until King Phothisarat moved the capital to Vientiane in 1545. It was inscribed as the UNESCO World Heritage in 1995.This ancient and gorgeous town is where to learn about Laos’ tradition, culture, and history. Travel to Luang Prabang to see the pretty town, Mekong River, French colonial buildings, the intact natural landscapes and dozens of religious monuments scattered throughout. Since the year of 1989, this town has been opened to tourism and trade, which showers it with the chances to transform from the old capital to the attractive “Jewel in Laos Crown.” The impression of the town’s nature, monk community, and religious monuments lasts long.
Some of the most visited sites in Luang Prabang Town are Wat Xieng Thong, Mount Phou Si, Wat Visounnarath (the former Royal Palace) and Wat Manolom. Equally beautiful are the lesser known temples across the Mekong River in Chomphet District. You can take a 1,5 hour walk through the hills and forest opposite the main town to explore the old temple sites and peaceful environment. Just outside of the main town are the beautiful Tad Kwang Si Waterfall, Tham Ting Caves, Ban Xang Hai Village and the tiered Tad Sae Waterfall. Further out is Muang Ngoi Kao, a quiet village located on the banks of the Nam Ou River surrounded by high karst mountains and sheer limestone cliffs. You can visit these sites on your own or use the services of one of the many tour operators based in town.
Kuang Si Waterfall
Kuang Si Waterfall, Luang Prabang, Laos
Kuang Si Waterfall is the biggest in the Luang Prabang area with three tiers leading to a 50-metre drop into spectacular azure pools before flowing downstream. The pools also make great swimming holes and are very popular with both tourists and locals. You can change clothes for swimming at the wooden huts located close to the entrance.
Pak Ou Caves
Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang, Laos
One of the most respected holy sites in Lao; Pak Ou Caves have a history dating back thousands of years. Packed with over 4,000 Buddha icons, the caves, a shrine to the river spirit and Lord Buddha, are set in a dramatic limestone cliff at the point where the Mekong joins the Nam Ou River. There are two caves to visit, the lower cave called Tham Ting and the upper cave Tham Theung, both boasting miniature Buddhist figures that are mostly made from wood.
Tad Sae Waterfall
Tad Sae Waterfall, Luang Prabang, Laos
Tad Sae Waterfall is best seen in the wet season (from August to November is the perfect period) when nature is truly picturesque with natural pools, limestone formations, and transparent streams. The ideal way to reach the peaceful Tad Sae is by boating, which provides the countless opportunities for photographing and sightseeing. People come to swim, have a picnic and relax peacefully here. Tad Sae is also nearby the Ban Amen Village for the new guests to cherish both nature and culture.
Royal Palace Museum
Royal Palace Museum
Set in a spacious, well-tended garden just off one of Luang Prabang’s main boulevards (Thanon Sisavangvong), you will find the fascinating Royal Palace Museum, which is also known as Haw Kham. The museum is well worth a couple of hours of your time if you want to learn more about Lao history and culture.
Wat Xieng Thong
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos
Luang Prabang is renowned for Buddhist temples of outstanding beauty with Wat Xieng Thong an outstanding example. A symbol of great historic importance, this magnificent masterpiece is characteristic of the Luang Prabang style and features an elaborate tree of life mosaic, intricately carved walls, rare Buddhist deities and a 12-metre high funeral carriage. Also known as the ‘Golden Tree Monastery’, Wat Xieng Thong acts as a gateway to Luang Prabang as it is strategically situated close to where the Mekong joins the Nam Khan River.
Wat Long Khoun
Wat Long Khoun, Luang Prabang, Laos
Resting close to the river on the banks of the Mekong, Buddhist temple Wat Long Khoun has long and historically significant connections to the Luang Prabang royal family. Also known as the ‘Monastery of the Happy’ the temple once served as a sanctuary for those seeking spiritual rejuvenation including any new king who would retreat to the Wat for three days cleansing and meditation prior to his coronation at Wat Xieng Thong.
Wat Wisunarat, Luang Prabang, Laos
Dating back to 1513 and the reign of King Wisunarat (Visoun), Wat Wisunarat is Luang Prabang’s oldest temple and was once home to the Prabang Buddhas. The history of the temple is colourful with it being originally crafted from wood before being burned by Black Haw riders in 1887. The Black Haw riders were part of the Black Flag military rebel group led by a Chinese commander at the end of the 1880s. Post invasion, it was rebuilt using stucco and brick and retains some original pieces including a stupa that was created in 1503 along with some other small Buddha icons although many were stolen during the Haw raid.
Elephant Village Sanctuary
Elephant Village Sanctuary, Luang Prabang, Laos
Close to the banks of the Nam Khan River, the Elephant Village Sanctuary (also known as the Elephant Park Project) works towards providing a peaceful future for rescued Lao elephants. Starting by saving the elephants from often brutal logging work, they are then given a home in the jungle where they can rest and recover. Some of the elephants at the sanctuary are disabled and are offered a chance of rehabilitation with an onsite fulltime vet to help those in need.
Ban Phanom, Luang Prabang, Laos
Ban Phanom is a village steeped in traditional textile making with all families in the village working their looms to provide goods for sale at the night markets. The woven products were once supplied to the royal family and weavers today use the same techniques and patterns, resulting in a distinctly old-fashioned look. Cotton and silk materials with a range of coloured threads are intertwined to produce a shimmering effect whilst silk is added to create a pattern.
Luang Prabang Library
Luang Prabang Library, Luang Prabang, Laos
The UNESCO World Heritage City of Luang Prabang is the perfect place to see one of the most sacred Lao traditions, the Buddhist Alms Giving Ceremony. Despite being a highly revered ritual for locals, visitors are encouraged to be involved as long as a level of respect is maintained throughout. Alms giving takes place daily as the sun rises, beginning on the main street of Luang Prabang before spreading out to all the side streets. You should buy your offerings (usually food) in advance and arrive with plenty of time to spare as it’s considered very offensive to disrupt the ceremony once it has commenced.
When the best time to visit Luang Prabang?
Luang Prabang has the tropical climate, with the dry (November – April) and wet seasons (May – October). The average temperatures range from 150C to 380C. Broadly speaking, the best periods to visit Luang Prabang are between November and March, when the condition is dry, cool, and comfortable. Especially, January showers Luang Prabang with the festive and crowded atmosphere. Then, when it comes to the rainiest months (August and September), the town might get flooded but still charming.