A sleepy peninsula at the heart of northern Lao mountains where time stands still, Luang Prabang will slow your pulse and make your holiday unhurried with its easygoing vibe and world-class comfort. If this historic town is on your bucket list, make sure you give it more a couple of days to experience all of its incredible charm, from cultural gems to natural wonders and fun outdoors.
Set at the sacred confluence of the Mekong River and the Nam Khan River that almost surround the city, Luang Prabang is the former capital of Laos and becomes world-famous when its ancient town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. The whole townscape is a delight for taking a stroll and traveling back in time to uncover much of the town’s history past. As a visitor, you cannot help but get amazed by the exceptional fusion of Lao traditional urban architecture and 19th century European colonial style buildings, which is all co-existing in a perfect harmony with the verdant greenery and rugged mountains of the sacred Mount Phousi.
Let’s start your cultural trip in Luang Prabang with an early wake up to witness Tak Bat or the Alms Giving Ceremony. Every morning before the sun rises, the monks in saffron robes will walk barefoot with their alms bowls to silently collect almsgiving from the faithful Theravada Buddhists, from the main street of the town spreading out to all the side streets. The tranquil scene is one of the most meaningful experiences in Laos, and tourists are expected to watch the old tradition respectfully from a distance. Continue your journey towards a collection of historical structures in this beautiful town. The most famous site is Wat Xieng Thong, the oldest monastery in the city built in 1560. The temple is noted for its typical roofs in Lao style and a stunning 'tree of life' mosaic on the western exterior wall. Other noteworthy attractions are Royal Palace Museum, Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham, Wat Pa Phai, and Wat Mahathat. While in the town, you can also spend time exploring local centers like Ock Pop Tok Living Craft Center or Big Brother Mouse to learn more about the culture of Luang Prabang residents and how they try to make the life better. For foodies, participating a cooking class is an excellent option to sample authentic Lao cuisine as well as take home some great recipes.
If you get enough discovery on culture and heritage, venture out of town to the nature. You can choose a host of outdoor activities with varied levels of difficulty, such as taking a swim in the spectacular Kuang Si Falls, river cruising to Pak Ou Caves, trekking with elephants through lush jungle, getting off the beaten path along meandering mountain-bike trails, kayaking or rafting along the river of Nam Xuang.