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Luang Prabang literally meaning “Royal Buddha Image”, was listed in 1995 for unique and “remarkably” well preserved architectural, religious and cultural heritage, a blend of the rural and urban developments over several centuries, including the French colonial influences during the 19th and 20th centuries

The center of the city consists of four main roads and is located on a peninsula at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong River. Luang Prabang is well known for its numerous Buddhist temples (33 to be exact) and monasteries.

The city is not only famous for its calm beauty and never fading culture , but also for its beautiful evergreen nature. Not far away from town, we can find plenty nature parks, which help bring you back into the nature, escaping from the busy daily life.

We cannot wait to give more detail of 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang categorized into 5 main categories: Excursion, Culture, Dining, Something different, and Special occasions

Excursions

We have 13 excursions to offer in Luang Prabang from an easy walk along the small streets of Luang Prabang to admire the local life to trying your hands on practicing the traditional methods of Lao farmer; from cruising the might Mekong to trek into the nature at Nahm Dong Park.

All is waiting for your exploration

Easy walk to explore the ancient city of Luang Prabang

There are dozens of temple complexes around town and visitors are welcome to wander around as long as they are respectful and cover up inside the buildings themselves.

We recommend you to start from Wat Xiengthong, which is one of the most important of Lao monasteries and remains a significant monument to the spirit of religion, royalty and traditional art.

There are over 20 structures on the grounds including a sim, shrines, pavilions and residences, in addition to its gardens of flowers, ornamental shrubs, and trees.

From there, we can make a short visit to the old temple of Wat Sene Souk Haram, literally “Temple of a 100 000 treasures”, which is the first monastery in town whose vihan was covered with yellow and red tiles in the modern Thai fashion.

Wat Xiengthong - 40 Best Things to do in Luang Prabang
Wat Xiengthong, Luang Prabang

 

Continue further down the street, you cannot ignore Luang Prabang National Museum, the form Royal Palace, whose architecture has a mixed of traditional Lao motifs and French Beaux Arts styles.

The nearby Wat Mai, built in the 18th century, is the largest and most richly decorated of the temples in Luang Prabang.

In the afternoon, continue the visit with some more unique temple of Wat Visoun and Wat Aham before taking the visit to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center (TAEC).

Established in 2007, TAEC has inspired visitors by exploring, celebrating, and preserving the diverse ethnic cultures and peoples of Laos through professionally curated permanent and special exhibitions, events, and craft workshops.

You can learn more about Lao culture and tradition with its plenty ethnic minorities in the TAEC section below in this article.

You can either ascend mount Phousi to watch the sunset with the panoramic view over the city, or spend a peaceful moment at the riverside temple of Wat Prabaht. Both gives you the unforgettable finish of the day

Cruise the Mekong River

Mekong river is the blood of Laos, which does not only supply the water for daily life, but also the easiest route to connect the different mountainous parts of the country.

Luang Prabang itself has plenty of benefits from the river, especially for tourism. Cruising the mighty Mekong is one of the most exciting experience when travelling to Luang Prabang.

During day time, you can either take the upstream cruise to the mysterious Pak Ou cave in the north of the city; or enjoy the leisure downstream cruise to Kuang Si waterfall in the south.

Along the way, there are plenty of stop to visit the local authentic traditional villages to learn about traditional weaving, saa paper making, or wine distilling.

Before the dust falls over the city, it is also the best time to enjoy a sunset cruise and have dinner on board while watching the traditional dance & folk song. Further detail in the Sunset and Dinner Cruise below.

Read more about the day cruise in Luang Prabang

Mekong River Cruise - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Mekong River Cruise

Nahm Dong Park - Back to nature

Located only 10 Km from the center of Luang Prabang , Nahm Dong Park is 18 hectares of beautiful plants, lush greenery, exquisite flora and fauna and rushing waters.

The area is spotted with cosy picnic places, some under straw huts, some in flower gardens. You could spend an entire day lounging, swimming, trekking and enjoying this natural preserve.

Not only are you immersed with this beautiful greenery that is easy to navigate, but you are also in a self-sustaining destination.

Check more about the activities offered by the park on their website http://nahmdong.com/

Nahm Dong Park - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang-1
Nahm Dong Park

Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden

Pha Tad Ke is the first and only botanical garden in Luang Prabang, offering a collection of tours, workshops and activities for visitors!

The garden locates on the other side of Mekong with a 15-minute boat ride downstream the river. You can spend half day stroll around the garden to learn more about the trees in Laos, take a short hike to the nearby Buddha cave, read a book by the Mekong, or sip a tea by the lotus pond.

Enjoy a beautiful lunch there before joining the boat back to Luang Prabang; or you can either spend the afternoon to join the workshop about the permaculture, herbal tea, or taking the cruise further down to Kuang Si waterfall to refresh with the cool clear water.

Pha Tad Ke Garden - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Pha Tad Ke Garden

Refresh at Kuang Si waterfall

Kuang Si Waterfalls, is a three leveled waterfall about 29 kilometres (18 mi) south of Luang Prabang.

These waterfalls are a favorite side trip for tourists in Luang Prabang. The falls begin in shallow pools atop a steep hillside. These lead to the main fall with a 60 metres (200 ft) drop.

You can spend the whole day exploring the falls, hiking up to the top to enjoy the panoramic view. You can also combine with the visit to some interesting stops along the way including Buffalo Dairy Farm, and Butterflies Park (see below).

Need some adventure? The morning trek from Ban Long Lao through the jungle, ending at the top of the falls is the good choice.

After all, the cool clear natural pool is always calling for your visit. Do not hesitate to take a dip, or you will regret it.

Kuang Si Falls - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Kuang Si waterfalls

Butterflies Park

Situated 300m before the entry of the Kuang Si Waterfall, Butterfly Park is a project that was initiated in January 2014 from 2 passionate Dutch people.

The mission is to create a research center studying and publishing about Laos butterflies, host plants and preservation because of environmental issues in Laos.

The Butterfly Park is open for schools to raise awareness about the beautiful and vulnerable nature in Laos, will provide them with learning materials to educate and understand the importance to preserve their beautiful nature for their health, happiness and financial security in the future.

The Butterfly Park wants to create funding as well for local schools. So those children can come to learn about their local nature.

Butterflies Park - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Butterflies Park

Laos Buffalo Dairy

Have you ever heard of milking the buffalo?

No? Come to watch it at Buffalo Dairy Farm.

Yes? The farm itself has an excellent story to tell you.

Laos, as an agriculture country, full of buffalo, it is quite strange that milking buffalo is something unimaginable some years ago.

This is where the story started.

Buffalo Dairy Farm is  a socially-responsible enterprise consisting of a commercial dairy and production facility to make products such as yogurt, cheese and ice cream for local and overseas customers.

Come and see how they help Lao farmers with having some extra income from milking their buffalo.

Locating on the way to Kuang Si waterfall, you can combine the visit in the morning, then refresh at Kuang Si waterfall.

Say “Cheese!”

Elephant Experience

NO DOUBT! This is one of the most exciting experience you have in Luang Prabang.

There are 6 elephant camps in Luang Prabang for you to choose from depending on your plan and preference.

The first one we recommend is MandaLao Elephant Conservation Center, which focusing on the non-riding elephant tour.

The center offers the half day excursion (morning or afternoon), or full day interaction with the elephant. All starts with a short lecture about the elephant and its living condition in Laos.

The second one is the Elephant Village, which is the first of its kind in Luang Prabang. Here you can enjoy the elephant ride of about 30 minutes and combine with the visit to the exciting Tad Sae waterfalls.

There are the option of (1) full day excursion including some trekking in the nearby area; (2) the option of learning some Mahout skills; or (3) you can also spend 2 to 3 days with the elephant if you wish.

For the one looking for some different experience, learning about making paper from elephant dungs is for you.

There are 2 nearby camps in the area including All Laos Elephant Camp, which offers quite the same excursion with Elephant Village but less professional services; and the small camp with 4-5 elephants near Tad Sae waterfall, where you can enjoy the 30-minute-to-1-hour elephant ride.

For the one with limited time but still wish to enjoy a short elephant ride, we recommend the one in Ban Xanghai to combine with the day to Pak Ou cave. And on the day to Kuang Si waterfall, you can make a short stop at Luang Prabang Elephant Camp to have some interaction.

Worry about the ethical issues? Read the 5 reasons to join the elephant tour in Laos

Elephant Village - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Elephant Village

Rice Experience at Living Land Farm

The best farming experience in Laos, the Living Land Lao company offers you the best the land has to offer and a rare glimpse into the lives of traditional rice farmers in Luang Prabang.

In this course, you will be able to experience how it is like to plough the land, plant rice, harvest them, thresh and eventually cook up a traditional meal!

Set in a beautiful farmland about 20 minutes from town, it is peaceful and serene yet bustling with life as all sorts of plants and animals interact in a thriving ecosystem.

Besides farming, you will also get to see a host of other traditional crafts such as blacksmiths, bird traps, musical instruments and a whole lot more.

Also comprising a zen-like lotus lake, and an organic garden with more than 30 types of vegetables and fruits, it will delight the plant-lover in you, if not inspire the creation of one!

Living Land Farm - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Living Land Farm

Tad Sae waterfall

Tad Sae waterfall is a spectacular natural wonder best appreciated in the wet season.

Despite not being as high as Kuang Si waterfall there are many more streams of water which cascade and make a thunderous sound following plenty of rain.

The falls pour over beautiful limestone formations across a variety of levels into large pools below, which are fantastic to swim in.

Tad Sae is only reached by boat, making it quite an adventure and an opportunity to retreat into nature and get close to the locals who head there in groups over the weekend.

Normally, you can combine Tad Sae waterfall with a 2-hour trek exploring the area with some authentic village.

More adventurous tourists can also enjoy some biking in the morning, spend time at the waterfall, enjoy the picnic, then take part in the kayaking downstream the Nam Khan river back to the town of Luang Prabang

There is a small elephant camp nearby if you want to experience something different.

Explore the other sides of Mekong river

For the one looking for a deeper cut of authenticity, catch a water taxi to the other side of Mekong river, you find yourself half a planet away.

Its simplicity and low-key temples belie the fact that we were only minutes from well-traveled Luang Prabang.

To start, we recommend you to take the cruise to Pha Tad Ke garden and spend half day to explore the bio-system of Laos. See more detail in Pha Tad Ke part above.

On the way back in the afternoon, you can make the stop to visit traditional Ban Chan village, which is famous for its traditional pottery-making, where you can watch pots being hand-thrown and fired in old ovens.

The village’s lamps and pots decorate the small streets of Luang Prabang’s old town, and are known all over northern Laos.

The final stop of the day is at Ban Xiengmene, stroll around the village to watch the life of local people, visit Tham Sakarin cave, and end up with ascending to the summit of the hill, home to Wat Longkhoune, where we can enjoy the panoramic view over the area to see yourself the contrast of the 2 sides of Mekong river.

Looking for adventurous activities? We recommend the visit to the Green Jungle Park below.

Ban Chan - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Ban Chan village

Green Jungle Park - Tad Hoikhua waterfall

Some 15 kilometers from the other side of the Mekong river, you will find Green Jungle Park which is a great slice of greenery in the middle of the countryside.

One of the main activities here is zip lining and there are some 900 meters of zip lines to try out in the park.

As if that wasn’t enough you can also enjoy monkey bridges as well as rope lines which will let you check out the jungle canopy from above.

You will also find a nice cafe here and some gardens that make a good place to go for a stroll in the afternoon.

The park is also studded with limpid pools which make the perfect place to cool off in the afternoon.

The waterfall of Tad Hoikhua is also the reason for the tourist to come here during the raining season.

You can combine the visit to Green Jungle Park with the visit to the local village of Ban Xiengmene on the way back to admire the panoramic view from Wat Longkhoune

Tad Hoikhua Waterfall - Green Jungle Park - 40 Best things to do in Luang Prabang
Tad Hoikhua Waterfall – Green Jungle Park

Kayaking Mekong river & Namkhan river

Kayaking Mekong river???

Yeah! You can!

Instead of sitting lazily on the boat, why don’t we make it more exciting with a kayaking day?!

The kayaking route is the same as you do by boat. Northern route combines with Pak Ou cave; and southern part combine with Kuang Si waterfall and/or Pha Tad Ke Garden.

For us we recommend the one to the south to avoid the sun in the afternoon.

During the raining season, the currents on Mekong river are very strong, so we recommend you to enjoy the kayak on Namkhan river instead, which can be combined with the day trip to Tad Sae waterfall or Elephant Camp nearby.

Kayak Luang Prabang - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Kayak Namkhan river, Luang Prabang

Culture

The culture of Luang Prabang is rich, singular, relatively preserved, probably because of its remoteness and the relative inaccessibility during centuries because of mountain chains all around with the only rivers as path to connect areas and way to exchange goods.

Registered in 1995 as World Heritage Site for its unique harmonious architecture combining 3 styles: Lao, French and Chinese.

The presence of wetlands, real lung of the city, is another specificity.

The city is also a historical Buddhist centre with lot of traditions and rituals mixing animism and ancestor cult.

The city has developed a unique gastronomic culture partly based on bitterness.

On top of the original culture, the city stands in a beautiful geographic and geologic location and historically close to an area well known to host elephants.

Daily Morning Alms Giving

The UNESCO World Heritage City of Luang Prabang is the perfect place to see one of the most sacred Lao traditions, the Buddhist Alms Giving Ceremony.

Despite being a highly revered ritual for locals, visitors are encouraged to be involved as long as a level of respect is maintained throughout.

Alms giving takes place daily as the sun rises, beginning on the main street of Luang Prabang before spreading out to all the side streets.

You should buy your offerings (usually food) in advance and arrive with plenty of time to spare as it’s considered very offensive to disrupt the ceremony once it has commenced.

Follow the guidance of the locals by kneeling down ready to give your offering to the monks; most common gifts include rice, fresh fruit and traditional sweet snacks.

The idea of the alms giving is for the Buddhist monks to make merit and also to collect food for their one meal of a day.

Daily Morning Alms Giving - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Daily Morning Alms Giving

Visit Morning Market to admire daily life

Luang Prabang morning market is where the daily life of Luang Prabang starts.

This small market is the Laotian “supermarket” where they come to buy their fresh fruit, vegetables and meat, which are proposed in showcases which are not always the way we use to see in most of our countries.

Some products are coming from the jungle around and will be for sure highly exotic for travelers from western countries.

Very active as from 8 o’clock in the morning, it is a typical passing spot for Laotians who come to buy and/or to sell.

There’s a lot going on! You can find many unusual foodstuffs like ox-blood which is proposed in gelatinous cubes, serpents, bats, grilled insects (worms, grasshoppers, bee’s larvae, crickets, butterfly chrysalis), giblets covered with flies, caramelised pork’s head, and all sorts of leaves and plants which are used to make the traditional dishes.

You can find Thai products, cultivated in greenhouses, as well as the seasonal Lao products.

Freshly caught fish, bunches of local flowers especially made for leaving in the temples as offerings, as well as many other items … A must see!

Morning market - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Morning market

Stroll around the Night Market

No visit to Luang Prabang is complete without visiting the amazing Luang Prabang Night Markets. It is a place where locals and tourists come together to converse, shop and eat all in one location.

The Evening Market is a nightly event that takes place between 17:00 and 23:00 beginning at Wat Mai and running along Sisavangvong Road to the town centre (Settathilat Road).

The street is closed off to vehicles and the hill-tribe traders emerge with their various apparels, ceramics, bamboo, lamps, blankets, bed covers, handicrafts and silk scarves.

Vendors often quote higher prices than when buying from the shops during day time, so make sure you haggle (politely) or shop around first.

Night market - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Night market

Royal Ballet Theatre

This provincial government troupe of some 60 artists was established in 1999 following a joint project between the Luang Prabang Provincial Service of Information and Culture and the Institute of Cultural Research (ICR) in Vientiane to re-establish the ancient “Lao Ramayana”.

For years now, the Royal Ballet troupe performed Phra-Lak Phra-Lam, the Lao version of the sacred poem, the Ramayana, in the Royal Palace in Luang Prabang.

Then in 1975, after 15 centuries of annual performances, the Theatre was banned and the master artists and teachers had to look for other work.

In 1993, after an absence of more than 15 years, the Institution of Cultural Research and the Provincial Government Office in Luang Prabang established a committee to revive limited performances of Phra-Lak Phra-Lam for festivals.

In 2002, the Theatre was re-established and has been performing at home and abroad since.

This show takes place in the garden of the National Museum, formerly the Royal palace.

The performance starts at 6:00pm during the high season (October to March) and 6:30pm the rest of the year.

Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Attention : the day of representation can change any time.

Royal Ballet Theatre - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Royal Ballet Theatre

Garavek Traditional Storytelling

In Luang Prabang, everything has a story. From Mount Phousi to the Nam Khan River to the town itself, there’s a legend behind how they came to be.

And don’t forget the popular Lao folktales of trickster Xieng Mieng or the first king Fa Ngum.

Garavek gives visitors the opportunity to hear these stories in English.

It’s a simple two-man show, with an animated, engaging storyteller accompanied by a musician on the khene, a bamboo instrument with two rows of bamboo reeds in a hardwood sound box.

This instrument could be called the sound of Laos; no folk music is without it and it is integral to Lao culture.

For an hour and a half, these stories come alive and it’s refreshing to see any sort of stage performance in Luang Prabang.

Theatre, music and dance—once a fixture of the royal court—has slowly been lost over the years.

Music is not written down, it’s passed down aurally and there are very few books on Lao folktales.

This small company is trying to preserve the tradition, so it feels good to give them some support.

Garavek has a daily performance from 18:00-19:30 in an intimate air-conditioned theatre with 30 seats.

Tickets are 50,000 kip and there are some drinks available

Garavek Storytelling - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Garavek Storytelling

Dining

The small town of Luang Prabang is filled with plenty of restaurant from authentic local cuisine to the western style. And in between you cannot ignore the fusion east-meet-west food.

Below you can find the 7 best dining experience in Luang Prabang

You may interested in Top 10 Laos dishes you must try

Learn to Cook Laotian Food

Luang Prabang is known as the best place in all of Laos to learn to cook traditional dishes.

Classes are either full or half day and most classes begin with a trip to the local market to shop for fresh ingredients.

Next, you’ll return to the class to begin learning how to prepare the dishes you’ve chosen.

Portions are large so the best thing to do is for everyone to choose a different dish to learn, prepare and then share with others in class.

This way you’ll be able to try a bit of everything!

Most schools include a cookbook in the price of the class, so you can attempt to make the dishes for friends when you’re back home.

Read more about 10 best cooking classes in Laos

Cooking Class - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Learn to cook Laotian food

Get a drink and hangout at Utopia

Nearly everyone that visits Luang Prabang ends up at Utopia, a traveler’s favorite.

Utopia’s menu has both local and Western choices with impressive river view. Utopia is a chilled-out relaxation spot during the day (they even offer yoga!) before transforming into one of the best lounges/party spots by night!

It’s great place to lay around reading a book during the day before meeting friends to share drinks and swap stories at night.

Nothing is better than grabbing a cold drink and laying down by the river bank whilst the sun is setting behind the mountains.

Utopia Luang Prabang - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Utopia Luang Prabang

Night Market Buffet

Buffet street, just off the main Luang Prabang night market, is a backpackers dream – a narrow laneway just off the night market filled with a market style buffet, with tasty local dishes ranging from fish and meat dishes, to vegetarian.

You pay for a bowl (KIP15,000-20,000 about $2-2.5), and then pick what you want – couple it with a beer and you’re all set. The seating is communal, which is perfect to meet fellow travelers and exchange stories over a decent meal.

Night Market Buffet - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Night Market Buffet

Enjoy the Laos-style BBQ by the river

You can find this kind of meals all over Laos but Luang Prabang has some best spots to enjoy it, especially along the river bank of Namkhan.

Unlike a traditional BBQ restaurant, you’ll cook your own meal. You can call it Laos-style BBQ.

The tabletop cooking device is something between a hot pot and a charcoal grill where you’ll cook whatever meats you choose on the sizzling top while boiling noodles, veggies and seafood in a bubbling broth found below.

Make sure to try the water buffalo – a local specialty that’s actually really delicious!

Laos-style BBQ - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Laos-style BBQ

Dinner at White Lotus Restaurant with Ethnic Fashion Show

White Lotus Restaurant is set amongst a serene Unesco protected lotus pond. Al fresco dining on a wooden deck offers a great place to enjoy a range of both traditional Laos dishes as well as international favorites.

Delicious food in a serene environment, whether you are after a simple snack or a gastronomic feast, your taste buds will be well taken care of.

During the dinner, there is one-of-a-kind ethnic fashion show, which is the show-case of some of traditional dress of some tribe in Laos.

It is the chance to learn some more about Laos culture.

Ethnic Fashion Show - White Lotus Restaurant - Parasol Blanc - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Ethnic Fashion Show – White Lotus Restaurant

Sunset and Dinner Cruise

Before the dust falls over the ancient town of Luang Prabang, it is the best idea to join the boat along the mighty Mekong to admire the sun setting behind the mountains.

There are some boat offering the sunset cruise only in around 1 hour, some others offer the dinner cruise only in also 1 hour.

From our point of view, we recommend to join the boats that offer both sunset and dinner cruise at once. Join the boat before the dust >> cruise along the mighty Mekong >> admire the sunset >> enjoy the dinner on board whilst watching the traditional dance and folk song >> Back in town at around 7:30 PM or 08:00PM.

This will maximize your experience with a little more extra comparing with joining just sunset or dinner cruise.

Some of the recommendation cruise includes Nava Mekong Cruise and Luang Prabang Cruise. In case you wish a private boat, do not hesitate to CONTACT US

Read more about the day cruise in Luang Prabang

Mekong River Cruise - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang (2)
Sunset & Dinner Cruise Luang Prabang

Romantic ever dinner at Manda de Laos

While daily life has changed in Laos and around the world, here at “Manda de Laos”, we carry on the traditions and spirit of “Mama Phiew” (Manda means “Mother” in Laotian), dedicated to sharing how one cooked and ate in the past.

Manda de Laos is enveloped by the historic beauty of three lotus ponds, registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995, creating an immersive tropical ambiance.

The dining area overlooks a magical display of lotus blossoms and floating lilies, while the changing colours of the sky through to dusk, allows guests to dine in candlelit serenity under the stars.

Signature dishes, include “Khoua Sin Kwai” (wok fried buffalo and flambé with Lao Lao alcohol), “Laap Moo” (a special dish inspired by traditional minced pork recipe of Toune’s mother) and “Ping Pa” (grilled famous Pa Nin fish with lemongrass and Lao herbs, served with homemade tomato maklen).

Manda de Laos’ Signature Cocktails feature Lao ingredients and flavors combined with a unique blend of legacy, modernity and innovation, such as the “Laos Parinha” (Champa Kao with cucumber and lime rimmed with local ground rice).

Manda de Laos Restaurant - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang-3
Manda de Laos Restaurant

Something different

We are going to share with you some of the best secrets in Laos, which you may not find anywhere. But it really makes your travel to Luang Prabang a life-time experience.

Chatting with a monk

Whilst visiting temple complexes don’t be shy of the monks, go and have a chat if they’re not busy as many of them enjoy the opportunity to practise their English.

Most males in Laos will be a monk at some point in their lives, and many rural families send their young sons to temples for a good education and better quality of life.

Some remain monks all their lives, whilst others return home after a year or two.

Monk chat - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Monk chat

Join a petanque game with locals

If you are looking for things to do in Luang Prabang and you’re in a sporty mood, want to hang out with locals and drink a few Beer Laos in the evening, head on over to a local Petanque court.

You can find a place to play Petanque almost everywhere in Laos. With 2-6 people, the game can start everywhere and every time of the day.

Of course, the best time for you to join is before sunset and end up with some course of BeerLao.

This is the good chance to share the time and make friend with local people.

Petanque with the locals & 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang-1
Petanque with the locals

Go bowling

Yeah! when all the city goes to sleep, this is where the party begins.

Get a tuk tuk, and tell them “bowling, bowling”, they will know where to bring you to.

Do not worry of your bowling skill or expect to improve it here, grab a bottle of BeerLao and start chitchatting with the fellow travelers.

It’s unusual and it’s fun, and definitely a must-do when you’re in Luang Prabang.

Go bowling - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang Bowling Alley

Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center

Luang Prabang’s Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of the many ethnic groups existing in Laos both today and in the past.

This cultural display of arts and lifestyles reflect a very diverse ethnic population. Permanent exhibitions feature traditional textiles and clothing, jewelry, religious artefacts, handicraft tools, baskets, photography and household objects.

The museum offers visitors a rare glimpse into the life of Laotian people giving a greater understanding to their richly diverse culture with quotes, photos and videos bringing the exhibits to life.

Located in a restored heritage building, it is the only non-profit museum in Laos solely committed to interpreting and preserving the lives of the country’s ethnic groups.

We recommend you to come visit and join a workshop about Ethnic Diversity and Cultural Change in Laos, so you get the deeper view inside the country’s minority groups.

The center is also the family-friendly place, which host a kid corner, where you children can play when you stroll around.

They center also offers a option of Ethnic Sampler Lunch, which includes some authentic dishes, chosen to appeal to the taste buds of tourists, but drawn from real ethnic kitchens in northern Laos.

Check out the tour that includes these activities HERE

Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center

Ock Pop Tock Living Craft Center

Just beyond the extensive Talat Market, a tiny lane leads about 200 meters towards the Mekong, emerging at the excellent Ock Pop Tok Living Crafts Centre, a beautifully laid-out traditionally styled workshop where weavers, spinners and batik makers produce top-quality fabrics.

Free tours of the centre start roughly half-hourly and give a superb insight into silk production and dye-making.

If you’re waiting for a tour, there’s plenty of information to peruse along with a great river-view café serving drinks and excellent Lao food.

Or try a cup of the surprisingly pleasant worm-poo tea-yes, a unique infusion made from silk-worm droppings.

Weaving and dyeing courses are possible here and accommodation is available.

Ock Pop Tock Living Craft Center - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Ock Pop Tock Living Craft Center

UXO Laos visitor Center

Laos is the most heavily bombed country per capita in the world. It’s a fact that’s been repeated over and over again—but what does it really mean?

Thirty minutes at UXO Lao Visitor Centre will open your eyes to the hell the country went through and how, to this day, people are dying.

The visitor centre is part of the UXO National Unexploded Ordnance Programme (UXO Lao), the national UXO clearance operator.

While the room is dimly lit and rather shabby looking, the educational signage is excellent, taking you through the history, impact, current problems, the step-by-step process of de-mining and the overwhelming amount of work that lies ahead.

Come to visit and get some inside information of the secret war in Laos and the problem of UXO to the daily life of Laos people

UXO Visitor center - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
UXO Visitor center

Bamboo Bridge

Cross the Nam Khan River on rickety Bamboo Bridge, which often gets washed away by the rising water during the rainy season.

The small fee you’ll pay to cross helps a local family rebuild this structure each year.

From Luang Prabang, The bamboo bridge leads to another world.

It is a lovely walk, once the weather cools down, particularly in the late afternoon and early evening, this walkway becomes the hangout place for local Lao young adults.

There’s lots of music playing from their phones, talking and giggling.

If you are game, you can ride your motorbike across the bamboo bridge to the other side of Luang Prabang. Or you could just walk the bridge if you are not a dare devil.

The bamboo bridge is the most atmospheric way to cross the Nam Khan River to many open-air restaurant, where you’ll sit on floor cushions at terraces overlooking the water, but the crossing is open during the dry season only.

Bamboo Bridge - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Bamboo Bridge

Admire the sunrise from mount Phousi

Admire the sunset from mount Phousi is very popular and sometimes, it is too crowded during that time.

So why don’t you admire the sunrise from there? Yes, it is completely give you a different experience.

The view of the Luang Prabang sunrise is completely unobstructed when you reach the top of Phou Si Mountain.

The climb is all steps, short but steep, with a few switchbacks. This climb will take anywhere from 10-15 minutes, and there’s a small entry fee of 20,000 kip when you reach the temple.

Seeing the sun come up – it’s an immediate payoff to reward your early morning fitness.

Sunrise Phousi Hill - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Sunrise from Phousi Hill

Join a Yoga Class

Slow down, unwind and sync your spirit to the city’s relaxed vibe with yoga classes taught at serene locations, from lush riverside garden decks at Utopia (daily) to rooftop sunset views.

The city’s yoga cooperative keeps up-to-date information on classes and venues on its website.

In our experience this is a well-run network of qualified teachers. All levels welcome.

If you are really into this, join the relaxing three-day yoga retreats at the delicious Mandala Ou Resort in Nong Khiaw

Keep up-to-date from their website

Yoga Class - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Yoga Class

Architecture and Life in Luang Prabang

Join the tour with UNESCO specialist, Mr Francis Engelmann who take you on an in-depth walking tour of the city.

His walk is oriented towards the lesser known parts of the town including charming lanes showing the more traditional atmosphere of the heritage town, including the four different types of buildings categorized by UNESCO.

The first one is the traditional Lao house which is made from tropical hardwood or bamboo and built on stilts.

The second is a half wood and half cement house built after the arrival of the French.

The third is the traditional French colonial building that are similar to those found in Vietnam and Cambodia.

The last form of architecture you will see is the old Chinese shop houses that were built to be used for both commercial and residential purposes.

Francis will finish his tour at Wat Xieng Thong, perhaps the most photographed temple in Luang Prabang.

Luang Prabang Old Quarter - Francis Engelmann - Architecture and Life - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang Old Quarter

Get a massage at Lao Red Cross

Lao Red Cross Sauna and Massage offers Swedish-Lao massage and a traditional herbal sauna in a stately old mansion beside the Mekong.

The building is located on Visoun Road, in Ban Visoun across from Wat Wisunalat. It’s walking distance, just five minutes down the slope from the backpacker bar area of Ban Aphai.

Recently renovated, this traditional blue Lao house was the original place to come for a sauna and massage before all the fancy ones arrived.

It might be no frills, but well-trained staff give first-rate massages and there’s a terrific sauna infused with medicinal plants that will clear your respiratory system like mentholated Drano! Now with air-con.

Beside, donations go directly to improving the lives of the poorest villages in Laos, that is one more reason for you to come.

Lao Red Cross Sauna and Massage - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Lao Red Cross Sauna and Massage

Special occasions

As many other cities in Asia, Luang Prabang host some of the most fantastic festival that you wish to join once in your lifetime.

You may be interested in Top 10 Laos festivals

Boun Pimay – Lao new year celebration

Although the Lao new year is celebrated in joyous spirit throughout the country, nowhere hosts more ancient traditions and colorful pageantry than the northern heritage city of Luang Prabang.

Although officially a three day festival, the party always goes on for at least a week.

Officially the last day of the year, 13th April is traditionally a day of renewal, the main symbol of which is water. Buddha images are washed, temples repainted and homes cleaned from top to bottom.

In the afternoon, young people pour water on the hands of their elders and ask for their blessing in the year ahead.

Much like a New Year toast in western cultures, this is sometimes followed by a short speech from parents or grandparents.

During the speech, elders give their blessing to their family, as well as highlighting important family events such as births, deaths or marriages.

The blessing of relatives, friends and even strangers with water continues throughout the festival.

Traditionally, you wish someone ‘Happy New Year’ (‘Sok Dii Pimai’), before pouring water over their head, symbolizing the washing away of sins committed in the past year.

These days, water is also shot through water guns or thrown from buckets and pans, creating and enormous water-fight that’s impossible to avoid.

Laos New Year - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Laos New Year

Boun Suang Heua – Boat Racing Festival

Did you know the Boat Racing Festival (others name known as “Boun Souang Heua”), dates back thousands of years?

Boun Souang Heua is a local festival that held during the Buddhist Lent depending on the lunar calendar.

On the main day of the festival, some of Luang Prabang’s finest racing boat teams will take to the Nam Khan River to compete for this year’s title. Are you ready for all the fun and festivities?

There will be a Market Fun Fair in the morning at the same date, will set up along Chao Fa Ngum road which is start from That Luang Ground to Tourism Office.

Locally made textiles, woven bamboo baskets, handmade clay pots, agriculture products, food and so on.

Boun Lhai Heua Fai – Festival of the boats of light

Lhai Heua Fai means “floating boats of light downstream”. This festival is celebrated on the night of the End of Lent.

It is held all over Laos, especially where there is a river. The festival in Vientiane attracts big crowds of devotee and tourists but the one in Luang Prabang is even more spectacular.

In Luang Prabang, each temple and each village send a boat to join the procession on the main street leading to Wat Xieng Thong.

Once at this beautiful 16thcentury temple, the boats are lined up and a jury awards prizes to the most beautiful boats.

After that, one by one, the boats are brought down the staircases of Wat Xieng Thong, reminiscent of a scene from the film Fitzcaraldo when people carry a boat from the mountain down to the river.

Then they are delicatedly put on the water and floated down the Mekong River among thousands of small individual banana leaf skiffs in a breathtaking sea of lights.

Watch Boun Lhai Heua Fai in Luang Prabang in the below video

Hmong new year

As every year, Hmong New year is “the first of the 5 new year days” in Laos (before the Lao Theung, Christian, Chinese and finally Lao new year).

This festival takes usually takes place before the end of the twelfth lunar calendar month, when the harvest is finished and foods are abundant.

The New Year Celebration starts on the morning of the first day of the new year and may last three or more days.

Festivities of the New Year’s celebration include ball tossing, song contests, Qeej performances and sporting activities, such as top playing, kicking, and bull fighting.

Hmong girls are wearing their most elaborately embroidered new outfits.

Around Luang Prabang, the new place to assist these festival is in Ban Jad San.

On this occasion, many Hmong American come in Luang Prabang, to see their relatives…

Hmong new year - 40 best things to do in Luang Prabang
Hmong new year

Summary

I am pretty sure that now you have clearer idea of what to do in Luang Prabang. Do not hesitate to give comment below about your favorite or if you find something missing.

Hoping to hear from you!

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