The town of Luang Prabang in northern Laos stands out as a throwback to simpler times – think lush greenery, colonial style housing and tranquil environments. Find out why this city was named as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO with our guide to exploring this picturesque city and the surrounding area.
Popular with locals and tourists alike, the refreshing, azure waters of the Kuang Si Waterfall are the perfect antidote to a hot Laotian afternoon. English speaking guides are on hand to explain the cultural significance of the area surrounding the waterfall, and the surrounding Hmong and Khmu communities sell a host of different handicrafts – the perfect place to pick up a holiday souvenir.
Once you’re done exploring the waterfalls, drop by Kuang Si Butterfly Park to observe local flora and fauna. Why not consider dipping your toes in the park’s open-air fish spa, where fish nibble away at your feet?
Wat Xien Thong, otherwise known as the Golden City Temple is Laos’s most significant Buddhist monastery. The temple is adorned with carvings that depict the life of Buddha, and the ceilings of its congregation hall are home to beautifully depicted symbols of Buddhist law and the Circle of Reincarnation.
You can discover more about the diverse culture of Laos at the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre, which houses permanent exhibitions on ethnic groups such as the Akha, Hmong, Tai Lue and Kmhmu.
Set your alarm for an early start and head to Luang Prabang’s Morning Market for a chance to observe tak bat - a morning ritual that sees local monks walk in single-file throughout the city streets to collect alms in return for flowers and incense. Once you’re done, soak up the hustle and bustle of the market, and break your fast with some local produce. Skewer of barbequed buffalo meat anyone?
Dyen Sabai Restaurant is hidden gem across the Nam Khan River, accessible by bamboo bridge or a free boat ride depending on the season. Be sure to try their Laotian Fondue, where meats are grilled over a barbecue as its juices flow into an attached hotpot.
Situated next to by the Nam Khan River, Tamarind boasts seasonal, degustation-styled menus to navigate your taste buds through a primer on the wide array of flavours Laotian cuisines has to offer. The restaurant also hosts cooking classes where you’ll learn to cook fare such as herbed fish steamed in banana leaves, otherwise known as Mok Pa.
Dinner in the lush courtyard setting of Blue Lagoon is also a memorable dinner location, serving up both local and Swiss (yes, you heard us correctly) cuisine with a comprehensive wine list to boot.
Fusion cuisine at affordable prices is what Bouang does. This tiny eatery serves up innovative fare such as green curry gnocchi, pumpkin curry alongside a fine selection of vegan-friendly fare.
Those seeking familiar comfort food should grab a few slices over at Secret Pizza. Using imported ingredients, they attract locals and tourists alike with their range of reasonably priced Italian pizzas, pastas and lasagnas.
Drinks at Utopia Laos are literally a laid back experience – the bar comes complete with reclining chairs that overlook the Nam Khan River. In line with their ‘zen by day, groovy by night’ slogan, the venue also hosts yoga classes in the morning and live music in the evenings should you want to commit an entire day to a Utopic experience.
Continue your evening with a cocktail or two at the warmly lit Icon Klub, where chatty bartender and owner Liza has served customers since 2009. On top of serving up a mean Dirty Martini, don’t be surprised if the evening unfolds spontaneously into a night of song, dance or poetry!
Set apart from other bars with its classy, monochrome atmosphere, a night of cocktails and tapas at 525 Bar is bound to be memorable. Pick your poision from an impressive selection of spirits and be sure to sample their sliders and aubergine caviar.
An institution in Luang Prabang nightlife, Dao Fah is definitely the place to experience how 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.
Those willing to venture out of the city center should hail a tuk tuk and head down to Luang Prabang Bowling Alley. While most bars in the city close around 11pm, Luang Prabhang’s one and only bowling venue serves booze until it closes up at 2am, making it a popular local spot for late night drinks.
What better way to wrap up your time in Luang Prabang than to cruise down the Mekong River with a glass of champagne in hand? Mekong Kingdoms offers a variety of luxury boat tours, ranging from a 2-hour champagne sunset cruise to 3 night cruise from Luang Prabang to Chiang Rai.
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