Luang Prabang is a very nice town in Northern Laos. You’ll need about one or two days for the town itself and minimally one day for the nature around it. On this page I’m telling you what to see, where to eat and where to sleep in Luang Prabang. And I’m telling you more about sights and activities in the area of Luang Prabang in North Laos.
What to see in Luang Prabang
The Royal Palace is probably the top sight in Luang Prabang. The Royal Palace can be found right in the center of the town, quite close to the river. The palace was build in 1904 during the French colonial era. The palace now functions as a museum.
Wherever you are in Luang Prabang, you can always see Phousi Hill. Yes you can laugh about the name, I did it constantly. It’s sometimes called Mount Phousi, but it’s definitely a hill. The stairs up to the hill can be found on two sides, one of the stairs is opposite the Royal Palace. The hill is free to enter. From the top of the hill you’ve got a beautiful view over the city and the nature around it. I recommend going down on the other side for some nice buddha statues.
Wat Xieng Mouane
Wat Xieng Mouane is a temple in Luang Prabang. It’s not very big, but it’s worth walking by to have a look.
Handicraft Night Market
Every night at 5pm the Handicraft Night Market opens up in the main street of Luang Prabang. The stalls sell all kinds of arts and crafts, from bags to postcards. Although several stands sell the same, the quality is quite high. It closes around 11pm.
It’s quite the mouthful but Sisavangvong road is the nicest street in Luang Prabang to go out for dinner or drinks. There are many restaurants, most of them have a small terrace as well, which is great for people watching. This is also the street where you’ll find ATM’s, massage salons and tour operators.
Every year at the beginning of the dry season a Lao family builds a bamboo bridge so you can cross the Nam Khan river. You pay a small ticket fee before you cross. It’s nice to have something to eat on the other side of the water.
Where to eat in Luang Prabang
I loved restaurant Bouang in Luang Prabang. It had a cosy interior with exposed brick walls and colorful attributes. There are three vegetarian main dishes on the menu of Bouang: pumpkin and mango fried rice, pumpkin red curry and the gnocchi green curry pictured above. I never had the combination of gnocchi and curry before, but it actually tasted great together. The Parmezan cheese and crushed cashew nuts made a nice topping to this fusion dish.
If you want to get a taste of Lao cuisine in an authentic restaurant you should go to Yongkhoune. This family owned restaurant has been around since 1960’s, it’s apparently the oldest family owned restaurant in Luang Prabang. They serve all kinds of Lao dishes as well as some other Asian dishes. There are also vegetarian options.
Coconut Garden actually has two gardens. One is quite close to the main road, but you can also walk through the restaurant to the garden in te back. This garden is extra cosy with colored lanterns and many plants. We went to Coconut Garden for cake. They have all kinds of cakes available in the showcase, so it’s a great spot to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Right on the other side of the river you’ll find Dyen Sabai restaurant. This restaurant has several plateaus where you can sit down. This way you’ll (almost always) have your own plateau with riverside views. Take off your shoes, sit down on the cushions and admire the view. It’s a great spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Don’t be confused with the energy drink, Redbull in Luang Prabang is a bar/restaurant. Alltough it’s located in the centre of Luang Prabang you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of the jungle when you’re enjoying your cocktail and some bar snacks. The outside terrace is covered with plants. Try their Lao version of the Mojito with a pizza bread.
Where to stay in Luang Prabang
We stayed at Luang Prabang Residence. This hotel has spacious rooms and a very good location. You can find it in the city center right next to the Royal Palace. They offer a pick up from Luang Prabang airport.
Click here to book your room at Luang Prabang Residence.
Renting a motor bike in Luang Prabang
Renting a motor bike in Luang Prabang is a great way to discover the area. It’s cheap, you don’t need a motor drivers license and it gives you a lot of freedom. We read some blogs about theft scams, but if you pick an agency with good reviews you don’t have to worry about it. Don’t forget to bring your pasport as you almost always have to leave it there as a deposit. We rented two motorbikes at Anousay in Luang Prabang, you can find it in an unnamed side street of Kingkitsarath road, just turn in the street with the Australian sports bar on the corner.
What to see around Luang Prabang
Kuang Si Falls
It was definitely my highlight of my trip to Luang Prabang, perhaps even of my trip to Northern Laos in general: the Kuang Si Falls. These waterfalls are easily reached by motor bike from Luang Prabang. It’s about 30 kilometers South from the city so it makes a great side trip or half day tour. You pay a small entrance fee at the bottom of the hill. You walk past a nice bear park, where they take care of rescued bears. You’ll first see a bright blue lake with a small waterfall at Kuang Si Falls, here you can go into the water. When we were there there weren’t many people in the water. There were two guys in before I went in, and I had the water all to myself.
But the highlight of the Kuang Si Falls is the main waterfall. I loved it how the water doesn’t simply fall down, but it falls via the rocks. Giving a beautiful show that hardly comes across on a picture.
There’s a walking pad up the hill on the left side and down again on the right side. It’s not always easy and sometimes quite steep but it’s very doable.
Pak Ou Caves
North of Luang Prabang you can find the Pak Ou Caves. The caves are located 25 kilometers North of Luang Prabang. These caves are a popular tour from Luang Prabang and they’re easy to reach by motor bike. The ride itself is truly magnificent with beautiful views of high hills and the occasional elephant along the way.
To get to the caves you’ll have to buy your boat ticket at a street stand where you also park your motorbike. You’ll walk to the boats where a captain will take you across the water. The caves themselves (there are two right next to each other) weren’t super impressive (or maybe I’m spoiled). You can’t really walk far into them, so you’ll be in and out in just a few minutes.
If you’re traveling to the Pak Ou Caves from Luang Prabang by motorbike you can make a stop right before the caves at Sang Ha. Sang Ha is a touristic little town mostly known for its whiskey, although they also sell a lot of scarves and fabrics nowadays.
Do you like my pictures of Luang Prabang? I took them all with my digital SLR camera from Nikon. I’ve got the Nikon D5600. We always take two lenses with us, the general lens that is included when you buy the camera and I’ve got a special 35mm lens for my food pictures. This lens takes in a lot of light, so you still get pretty pictures even if you’re having dinner in a restaurant where there’s little light.