I went to Luang Prabang and with a broken heart. And this small, quiet and peaceful town healed it! So every time I heard this place, I will remember how this small town mended my broken heart. And do note, that they also have the friendliest immigration officer I’ve ever encountered. Not those ones with robotic faces, but the ones who can actually smile and asked about your trip. There are not very many things to see here in Luang Prabang. It is small. And the life revolves around its main road, Vivasong Rd. But certainly you need to visit this place for 3-4 days.
Kuang Xi Waterfalls
This is the most picturesque view in Luang Prabang. Located 29 km from the center of the town, this is definitely a must-see. The water falling from the rock creates a series of greenish pools. You can bathe in, in some parts. During rainy season or even in the mornings, the area surrounding the pools is very slippery, so use proper footwear such as Teva-like sandals. Or do like locals, barefoot, if you feel more comfortable. If you are in a group, travel to this waterfalls is quite cheap because you can hire a tuk tuk or rickshaw. A return trip to Kuang Xi cost US$14. And like always, do bargain down!
Park Ou Caves
Or the Buddha caves, is about an hour drive or one and a half hour on a boat. There are two caves – one on the entry level and another – the upper caves – on top of the hill. A very steep climb, but worth the effort. A candle or torch recommended to see the upper cave, as it is dark.
The center of the town is a hill where you have a good view of the whole town. It’s not a very steep climb from the bottom and sunrise and sunset are the most sensible and rewarding times to go up. There is a near-panoramic view from the top. Entrance fee 20,000 kip.
Night market is there every night along the main road up to Phou Si. You can get any souvenirs from shirts, T-shirts, bed sheet, traditional hand bags. Just make sure that they are not made in Thailand. You can pay in kip, Thai baht or US dollars. Alms Ceremony Only for early-rising tourists. It is a very interesting rituals at dawn when the monks collecting alms from kneeling villagers. Stand and take pictures from a far, do not disturb the ritual itself. If you wish to participate, make sure you bring good fruit or food to give to the monks.
How to get there
Bangkok Airways fly Bangkok-Luang Prabang everyday. The air travel takes 1 hours 40 minutes in a 67-seater ATR aircraft. And yes, no need to be so surprise if you see it looks like a toy plane. They fly just fine. They provides free meal, and on flight from Luang Prabang you would almost certainly get Lao dish i.e. sticky rice. A lot of people opt to fly from Vientiene using Lao Airlines, or by bus via Vang Vieng.
Hotels line up along the main road and some smaller streets. I stayed in Sayo River Guesthouse which offer a view to Mekong River for $25/night. The place is clean and you get free coffee anytime of the day. It’s a good 10 minutes stroll from the main road and at night you will have to cross a slightly dark bridge. For you who travel in a group, this is no problem. I was travelling alone, and it was also alright. Some people may want to be closer to the party, which is the Vivasong Rd. There are many options. Sayo River has a twin on this road. You don’t have to book in advance as there are always room for you.
I did not remember any ATMs there, but there are a lot of money changers. So bring your dollars or baht and there will be no problem f0r you. Visa on arrival costs from US$ 20 to US$ 40, depending on your country of origin.