The Town Between Two Rivers

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is a relaxed backwater town sandwiched between the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers. Once an ancient capital to Laos, the UNESCO World Heritage City is blessed with a charming historical and natural environment! Spend sunny days exploring the quaint town and its surrounding natural wonders; then, wind down on slow-paced afternoons watching the sun set over the Mekong. You will definitely get a true sense of quiet, rural life here; motorbikes and pedestrians dominate the streets instead of cars and monks casually walk the streets clad in their orange robes. Make the most of your riverside retreat in the simple joys Luang Prabang has to offer.

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lemi

Updated a year ago

Luang Prabang Morning Market

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Luang Prabang, Laos • Recommendation • 

Start your day in Luang Prabang at the Morning Market and join locals doing their daily shopping! Even before the sun rises, merchants start laying out colorful spreads of everything from wild mushrooms to freshwater fish on the covered ground. There’s plenty to see (and eat!) while you wind through the alleyways and narrow side streets branching out from the Main Road (Sisavangvong Road). Munch to your heart’s content on the various ready-to-eat snacks made fresh and on-the-spot!

  • Alleys between Sisavangvong Road and Mekong River, Luang Prabang, Laos

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Luang Prabang Night Market (Handicraft Night Market)

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Luang Prabang, Laos • Recommendation • 

When night falls, the town’s Main Road is closed off to cars and taken over by a flea market! Locals sell all sorts of handicrafts from their tents, often arranging their wares over the tarpaulin-carpeted street. You’ll find something to bring home for everybody, whether it’s an embroidered bag, a silk scarf, or paper lanterns! On the more exotic side, a few stalls offer tortoise shells, tiger teeth, and reptile-infused liquor. Shop at your own discretion, though. It’s best to check your country’s own regulations and local customs policies before making any purchases!

  • Sisavangvong Road, Luang Prabang, Laos

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National Museum of Luang Prabang (Former Royal Palace)

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Luang Prabang, Laos • Recommendation • 

National Museum of Luang Prabang was once the Royal Palace where King Sisavang Vong and his family lived. It was built in 1904 during the French colonial era, endowing the stately home with a fusion of local and beaux-arts design. During his 55-year reign, the King was a supporter of French rule in the nation. Gain an intimate peek into the royal family’s private living quarters, Throne Room, and Car Collection. The entire complex houses many important religious and royal relics, from busts of the monarchs to the golden Buddha that the town is named after (Phra Bang)! You may even catch a cultural show at the Phralak Phralam Theater tucked in the Museum’s left wing! Just remember: dress appropriately (no shorts or sleeveless tops) and refrain from taking photos during your visit.

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Wat Xieng Thong

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Luang Prabang, Laos • Recommendation • 

Wat Xieng Thong (Temple of the Golden City) is Luang Prabang’s foremost Buddhist place of worship. It was richly decorated to fit the coronations and annual festivals that it would host. Admire the elaborate details that adorn the Wat, from the intricately carved scenes of Buddha’s life on the wooden doors to the “Tree of Life” mosaic on the rear wall! The tree depicts an early legend of how the temple came to be; two hermits decided to establish the monastery next to a flaming tree where Luang Prabang’s two rivers meet. According to temple etiquette, take off your shoes upon entering any of the temple buildings. Wear modest clothing that covers your upper arms and legs. Traditional sarongs are available for rent here, as well!

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Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham

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Luang Prabang, Laos • Recommendation • 

The sacred beauty of Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham has saved the temple from the ravages of time and foreign invasion. Marvel at gilded reliefs that render rural life, the Ramayana (an ancient Indian epic), and Buddha’s birth in glorious detail! The ornate carvings continue on inside, surrounding a golden Buddha as he sits in meditation. In addition, an Emerald Buddha looks out from its shrine onto Wat Mai’s visitors.

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Mount Phou Si

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Luang Prabang, Laos • Recommendation • 

Enjoy the sunset at the heart town on Mount Phou Si! The hill’s summit is the tallest point around, boasting a 360-degree view of the land. On clear days, the mountains, rivers, and buildings stretch their magnificence as far as the eyes can see. Tourists, monks, and vendors crowd the area during peak hours, but even the lively hubbub holds its charm. Sunrise might be a more peaceful time to visit in case you’re looking for some solitude. During your ascent, pass by the numerous Buddhist shrines and temples that sprinkle the way, especially Buddha’s footprint!

  • Luang Prabang, Laos
    ຫຼວງພະບາງ

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Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre

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Luang Prabang, Laos • Recommendation • 

The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC) is dedicated to the different ethnic cultures that emerged from Luang Prabang’s hill-tribes. Its museum is small but packs a perfect introduction to visitors within its three rooms! Traditional attire and practical handicrafts lend museum-goers a peek into local heritage. Take a free tour (either Fridays or Tuesdays) at 3:00PM for the full experience. Snag fair-trade textiles and other souvenirs at their shop, then cap off your visit at the café nestled inside TAEC!

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Ock Pop Tok Living Crafts Centre

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Luang Prabang, Laos • Recommendation • 

Luang Prabang’s artisans weave the days away and share their expertise at Ock Pop Tock Living Crafts Centre! There are free tours every half hour to get you started on your exploration of Laos’ textile traditions. Take a class, purchase their products, or simply while away the hours at the riverside café. They even serve a pretty interesting cup of tea infused with silkworm droppings for those daring enough to try! The traditional-styled house that hosts the Centre is stationed by the Mekong River, presenting a pleasant view to match the friendly community.

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Elephant Village

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Luang Prabang, Laos • Recommendation • 

Commune with Laos’ gentle giants at the Elephant Village Sanctuary! The organization is committed to elephant welfare, paying heed to Luang Prabang’s history as “The Land of a Million Elephants.” They’ve rescued a few elephants from the timber-logging industry, as well as ditched harmful practices. The use of heavy howdahs (a carriage or saddle) during back-rides is a common practice that the Sanctuary prohibits. A visit to the Elephant Village usually entails meeting the herd in their natural habitat, then an unforgettable ride through the serene wetlands!

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Shompoo Cruise

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Luang Prabang, Laos • Recommendation • 

Bask in all the natural beauty Luang Prabang has to offer by coasting along its main waterway: the Mekong River! Shompoo Cruise offers special packages that take you on a one- or two-day voyage by a quaint longtail boat. Dine, sleep, and relax on-board for the duration of the trip! The Mekong Upstream experience begins at Luang Prabang toward Houay Xai, a town at the border of Laos and Thailand. The journey is only a tiny fraction when you consider how long the Mekong truly is. From a glacial spring in Tibet to the open South China Sea, the Mekong River cuts through much of Southeast Asia (including Laos)!

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About Laos

Laos’ harrowing past is what makes it the exquisite country that it is today. Witness its eclectic beauty and discover what the land of a million elephants has in store for you.

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