Luang Prabang Bucket List: Top 15 Best Things to do in Luang Prabang, Laos

Temple in Luang Prabang
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Luang Prabang Tourist Attractions and Best Things to do in Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang is the first UNESCO Site that is listed in the country of Laos and the town has a lot to offer. There are many things to do in Luang Prabang, whether you are interested in communing with nature, walk through beautiful temples, learn more about local culture, shopping, you will have many options to choose at this town.

DIY Itinerary and Best Things to do in Luang Prabang, Laos
DIY Itinerary and Best Things to do in Luang Prabang, Laos

Top 15 things to do in Luang Prabang

Go hiking at Mount Phousi

The gilded stupa of Wat Chom Si on the summit of Mount Phou Si by Allie Caufield via Wikipedia CC
The gilded stupa of Wat Chom Si on the summit of Mount Phou Si By Allie Caulfield , CC BY 2.0
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This hill is located literally in the middle of Luang Prabang and Phousi mean sacred mountain. This is one of the first things to do as you arrive in Luang Prabang. You will climb the 355 steps to the summit where you will find a temple, Buddha’s giant footprint, and Wat Chom Si golden stupa. The highlight of the hill is that you will get a panoramic view of the town. You can visit at dawn to avoid the crowds or at dusk if you are willing to battle with the crowds for the golden hour stunning view.

Explore Wat Xieng Thong

Wat Xieng Thong
Wat Xieng Thong

There are many temple complexes around the town and tourists are welcome to explore around as long as they are respectful and they cover up inside the building. You should ensure you visit the Wat Xieng Thong which is located at the northern end of the old town peninsula where royal coronations traditionally took place. The highlight of the trip here is the gold and intricate mosaics that covered the temple and you will get a stunning insight into the Buddhist religion.

Visit the Royal Palace Museum

Royal Palace Museum by Alcyon via Wikipedia CC
Royal Palace Museum By Alcyon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

This was a formerly used as a royal palace and it was built in 1904 before it as abdicated in 1975 as Pathet Lao took over Laos’ government. It is now a museum and you are not allowed to take personal belongings and photographs inside the museum. The highlight of the museum is the Phabang Buddha statue which dates back to the 14th century.

Have fun and climb waterfalls at Kuang Si

Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls in Luang Prabang
Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls in Luang Prabang

A trip to Kuang Si Waterfalls is one of the things that you should ensure you try out while in Luang Prabang. This is a tourist hotspot and you can get there by bicycle, tuk-tuk or as part of a tour and the best time to go is in the morning as it is not crowded. The waterfalls are in several stages and it begins with a hidden jungle plunge pool which is at the top and it ends with a staggering series of emerald pools that you can swim in at the bottom.

Relax at the Utopia

Utopia Bar in Luang Prabang photo via FB Page
Utopia Bar in Luang Prabang photo via FB Page

After a tired sightseeing activity, you can unwind at the Utopia bar which overlooks the Nam Khan River. You will have a relaxing time here as you grab a chilled beverage and a bowl of olives while you settle down on the colorful pile of cushions as you enjoy the scenic view of the area. The staffs are friendly and they will even encourage you to have a siesta if you like.

Have lunch at the Kuang Si Butterfly Park

Kuang Si Butterfly Park
Kuang Si Butterfly Park

The park is run by Dutch couple Olef and Ineska and this is a stunning and delightful place to spend a few hours. There are three ticket options, which are just entry, entry plus lunch, and entry plus coffee and cake. At this park, you can have a relaxing time as you dip your feet in the water that is filled with carp while you enjoy your treats. You can also see the different species of butterflies that live in the enclosed portion of the butterfly gardens.

Have fun ploughing rice fields with Water Buffalo

Water Buffalo
Water Buffalo

One of the coolest things you can try out while in Luang Prabang is to become a rice farmer for a day at the living land Rice Farm which is just outside Luang Prabang. At this farm, you will take part in all 13 stages of rice production and crushing sugar cane for the juice, you will also forge tools and weave bamboo with the farm workers. The highlight of the tour when you have to keep up with a water buffalo as you plough the field.

Go hiking at Tat Sae waterfalls

Tat Sae Waterfalls photo by Farruquitown via Flickr CC
Tat Sae Waterfalls photo by Farruquitown via Flickr CC

You can go for a full day or half day tour at Tat Sae waterfall and you will be glad you do. You can try and visit during the weekday so as to minimize the crowds. If you are interested in hiking, there are many streams and trails that you can explore. The best time to visit is between August and November where you will get the best view and also dress modestly if you want to swim here as you will see the local Lao people swimming fully clothed or covered in a sarong.

Explore Pak Ou Caves

Pak Ou Caves photo via Wikipedia CC
Pak Ou Caves By Wikipedia – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

There are two caves at the mouth of Ou Rivers and they are Tham Theung and Tham Ting. The caves are a spiritual place for centuries and they were believed to be occupied by spirits by the animists in the region before Buddhists even bring wooden Buddha statues to the cave. You should bring a headlamp with you while you will like the stunning river views on the way up and down the Mekong.

Go for a river cruise

Luang Prabang Mekong River Cruise photo by taylorandayumi via Flickr CC
Luang Prabang Mekong River Cruise photo by taylorandayumi via Flickr CC

This is one of the ways that you can use to explore the town, you can either go on a 10 minutes’ cruise from Luang Prabang to the Botanical gardens or you can go 11 days while traveling up the Mekong from Luang Prabang to the Golden Triangle, you will surely appreciate Southeast Asia’s largest river. The highlight of the tour is that you can catch the sunset and you will also watch the fishermen as they cast their nets against the karst mountain backdrop.

Try out traditional Lao Cuisine

Food Trip in Luang Prabang
Food Trip in Luang Prabang

Most of the restaurants in Lao cater for the tourist who is used to the egg fried rice and noodles of Thailand and it is difficult to find one that serves true Lao dishes. If you want to try out a traditional Lao Cuisine, then you should book a table at the popular Tamarind Restaurant. You will learn how to eat the dishes from the menu as well and also what the dishes are. So you should ensure you try out this delicious dishes.

Learn how to Cook Lao Style

Lao Cuisine
Lao Cuisine

The best cooking school in Luang Prabang is just 20-minute tuk-tuk ride out of town and it is deep in the spectacular countryside. In the day class, you will go on a trip to the local market for products with your teacher and this is a way to learn about and also taste about some of the unusual ingredients. You will be amazed by what you can cook like Jeow (spicy dipping sauce), Laap (a traditional minced buffalo and herb salad.

Watch early morning alms at Tak Bat

Early morning alms at Tak Bat
Early morning alms at Tak Bat

There is an early morning alms ceremony which takes place at the Tak Bat temple and this is a ritual of the monk processions receiving their daily alms. You will be humbled by this activity and the best way to enjoy the ritual is to sit quietly on the opposite side of the street and watch.

Buy souvenirs at the Night Market

Souvenirs at Luang Prabang Night Market
Souvenirs at Luang Prabang Night Market

Before you leave Luang Prabang, you should ensure that you get some souvenirs for your friends and family and the best place to get those are at the night market and you will also get them at a great price. The vendors here are lovely people and you can stroll through with any issue, some of the things you can buy are the iconic umbrellas, an elephant made out of a bomb from the Vietnam war.

Have a chat with a monk

Chat with a monk in Luang Prabang
Chat with a monk in Luang Prabang

Most males in Laos will be a monk at some point in their lives and even many rural families to send their young sons to the temple so as to have a good education and better quality of life. While you visit the temple complexes at Luang Prabang you can talk to monks if they are not busy and most of them will love to speak with you as they want to practice their English.

Temple in Luang Prabang
Temple in Luang Prabang

There are many things that you can do in Luang Prabang and the town also offers a spectacular array of culture, mouthwatering food, nature, etc. Even if you just explore the streets, you will have a glimpse of life at this town.

Luang Prabang Travel and Tour Packages

Luang Prabang Half Day City Tour + Pak Ou Caves

Luang Prabang Half Day City Tour photo via KLOOK
Luang Prabang Half Day City Tour photo via KLOOK

Luang Prabang is rich with the cultural heritage that Laos is so well known for. From its ancient temples to its natural beauty, there is so much to explore within it that it would take days to experience it all.

Luang Prabang Half Day City Tour + Pak Ou CavesBOOK THIS TOUR

Luang Prabang Cultural Exploration

Luang Prabang Cultural Tour Guide photo via KLOOK
Luang Prabang Cultural Tour Guide photo via KLOOK

Enjoy a day trip up the hills to remote villages occupied by Hmong and Khmu tribes. Walk through paddy fields and forests taking in the beautiful hilly scenery typical for northern Laos.

Luang Prabang Cultural ExplorationBOOK THIS TOUR

Do you have other recommended fun and interesting things to do in Luang Prabang? Please feel free to share by posting a comment below.

Find Best Hotels in Luang Prabang according to your budget via Agoda.

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