Luang Prabang had some pretty big shoes to fill after our love affair with Vang Vieng. The travel bible ‘Lonely Planet’ described Luang Prabang as an old colonial town with many historical sites as well as natural wonders, mainly waterfalls and caves but more importantly lots of french style bakeries!
We were fortunate enough to spend 4 days in the former capital of Laos, however I definitely could have spent longer and I’m sure restless Steve could have done it in two days!
Here is a list of some of the things that we would recommend you see or do when visiting LP and maybe some of the things you should avoid based on our own experiences;
Do eat at the Night Market. They charge you 10,000 Kip (less than 1 gbp) per plate and you can pile as much stuff on from the buffet as you like. There is also some amazing meat available, grilled chicken, sausages and fish, which you are charged an additional 10,000 Kip for, but the price is ridiculously cheap for what you are getting and the atmosphere is great!
Do shop at the Night Market! We have been to our fair share of night markets so far in South East Asia but Luang Prabang’s was definitely up there with the best, they have everything you could ever need or don’t need but will buy anyway and the prices were much better than in Vientiane.
Do go on the Walking Tour as recommended by Lonely Planet. In all honesty some of the sights aren’t that exciting but it is a great way to cover the whole city. You can spend more time at your favourite parts and very little time in the not so exciting parts. The view from the top of Phou Si is pretty incredible.
Do pay the money to cross the bamboo bridge and head to Dyen Sabai and try the Lao platter. This included all Laos delicacies in tapas form, Laos spicy sausage, dried Buffalo, Mekong Riverweed and chilly dip, Eggplant Dip and purple sticky rice. It’s also buy one get one free on cocktails all day until 7pm : )
Do go to the beautiful handmade jewellery store next to Dyen Sabai!
Do eat, drink, play games and smoke shisha at Utopia.
Do go to Kuang Si waterfall, it is as amazing as they say and make sure you don’t leave it too late in the day as you could spend hours there! Also stop by the Bear enclosure on the way and see the adorable animals that have been rescued from a worser fate.
Do sample one of the gorgeous local dishes at Lao Lao garden and you get a free shot of Lao Lao (local rice whisky)
Do spend hours watching the world go by in one of Luang Prabang’s infamous bakery’s. Joma’s, The Scandinavian Bakery and The Antique Hotel Cafe have the best options! (I know what you’re thinking but I have to check out all the coffees and cakes for our readers! )
Do go to handicraft village if you have the time, there is not a great deal to see but they have some amazing bargains if you’re in the market for anything silk.
Do wake up at 5am (we didn’t but heard it was great) and watch the people giving almost to the Monks by the monastery
Do sample the Smiley breakfast at Delilah’s!
Don’t get fooled by the Tuk Tuk drivers. They will try to con you into paying for a tour to Kuang Si Waterfall and Pak Ou cave and charge you over and above for the privilege but these two sites are in completely different directions and therefore should be seen on different days.
Don’t stay at Khammany Inn and don’t book your hotel through Agoda.
Don’t miss sampling some Lao food
Don’t rush your time in Luang Prabang, there may not be too much to do but this is a mellow town with a great vibe and it should be enjoyed at a leisurely pace.
Don’t miss one of the outdoor movie nights at Utopia
Don’t go to Luang Prabang Bowling Centre, even though it seems like such a good idea when Utopia is closing (its the only place open after 11!) It’s full of over excitable, overly drunk teenagers.