Nestled on the confluence of two mighty rivers and surrounded by misty mountains, Luang Prabang is a rich medley of spiritual sustenance, Indochinese architecture, verdant nature, and enchanting ambiance.
A meritorious UNESCO World Heritage city, Luang Prabang’s tourism industry has been booming. Maintaining its charming small village personality still, the former capital of Laos is clean, organised, and holds a dream-like atmosphere. Away from the glistening temples and interesting architecture, magnificent nature and its beauty await your discovery.
Being such a picturesque destination, one of the best things to do in Luang Prabang is to explore it by foot, temple hop, or settle down in a café with a cup of coffee, as you immerse yourself the city’s charm. Not to be mistaken as a boring place, you could quench your thirst for an adventure by trekking, mountain biking, kayaking and be awe-struck by Luang Prabang’s natural treasures. With top comfort accommodation and also budget stays, Luang Prabang is ideal for backpackers, seniors, couples, and families alike.
A mere 5 kilometres outside of the city, the Luang Prabang International Airport is served by a handful of local and Asian airlines. The city is also connected by road all the way from Hanoi, Vietnam, in the northeast and the capital city, Vientiane, in the south. Long distance buses are available between these cities though the ride can be long and bumpy. Thanks to the Mekong River, you can travel to Luang Prabang by boat from Huay Xai at the Thai border and Pakbeng, the gateway to the northeast and Chinese border.
Apart from the local currency, Laotian Kip (LAK), US dollars and Thai Baht are widely accepted at Luang Prabang. However, the exchange rate varies between businesses so it might be best to make your purchases in LAK. ATMs that accept foreign credit cards are mainly located at Sisavangvong Road near the night market, while most establishments will not accept credit cards as means of purchase. Money changers are also available at Sisavangvong Road though a lot of their rates are rather unfavourable while some might even try to scam you, so be extra vigilant while using their services.
Luang Prabang’s climate is tropical, which means hot and humid all year round with a distinct dry and wet season. The dry season runs from November to May, with tourism peaking in the months of November to January, before the temperature rises to an unbearable high. May to October marks the wet season, with the rainiest months being August and September when the Mekong River might experience floods. However, the wet season might not be the worst time to visit as you tend to get sunshine all day apart from strong downpours in the afternoons. This is when accommodation prices are cheaper, the city is less crowded, waterfalls and the rivers are more abundant, and greeneries are at their lushest.
Luang Prabang is a place of interesting restaurants and cafés, especially on Sisavangnong Road and the riverside streets. Many restaurants serve traditional Lao cuisines and east-meets-west dishes like the must-try Luang Prabang salad. The morning market is vibrant with myriads of fresh vegetables, dried shrimps, eggs and even live frogs. The night market is great for sampling various Laotian street food, including baguette sandwiches with ample fillings. Unfortunately, you will not be able to find any multi-national fast food joints in Luang Prabang.
UNESCO has invested a lot in Luang Prabang, making it clean, tidy, and an absolute pleasure to visit. Be a witness to the best of east and west as they converge harmoniously in the delightful Luang Prabang, where the city flourishes but seem as if it is standing still in time.