This place is a gem! It’s a stunning little town on the edges of the Mekong with almost as many Buddhist monks as tourists. Actually that’s a lie, there are way more foreigners getting around the streets then anyone else, somehow despite the huge tourism the streets are clean and the place feels welcoming. This might have to do with the 32UNESCO heritage listed temples and monks wandering the streets offering soft caring smiles to everyone.
Where to stay
I didn’t really stay at anywhere else then Kounsavan Guest House (LINK) mainly because it had a pool and it was really clean, organised and the free breakfast was pretty good! I like it when you get what you and given that at a reasonable price at 50,000kip per night. I got recommended from a traveler in Vang Vieng and it seemed like every other backpacker in town had done the same. In saying that the only thing that it lacked was atmosphere, with the common room filled with people on their iphones.
As for other accommodation there are literally hundreds of guesthouses along the river of different levels of comfort for different styles of traveler. but I’m broke, cheap and only need somewhere to store my gear while I’m having a beer or a swim.
Getting there from Vang Vieng is really quite easy and cost between 80,000 and 100,000kip. Getting away is also very easy and quite comfortable on busses. This can be arranged at almost any hostel or anywhere on the main street next to mount Phusi which is tourist central and easy to walk to any of the hostels, hotels and guesthouses.
Food here is a strange mixture of traditional Laos food and amazing baguettes because of the early French influence. Laap, its the closest thing Laos has to a national dish and is slightly different where you get it. Generally it consists of a minced meat commonly duck or pork with cilantro, mint, lemon grass, other herbs, spices and accompanied with sticky rice. However thank to the early French influence baguettes are also a big part of the cuisine in Luang Prabang. From the street vendors these baguettes will cost between 15,000kip and 25,000kip depending on what what’s in it.
There are also a plethora of street meats cooking over coals all along the streets. Try the sausage on a sick, they are homemade with fresh ingredients and stacked with herbs and spices. I’m going to pissoff a few of my German friends saying this but they are the best sausages I’ve ever had! There is a little street food alley at the very start of the night markets. If you are walking in from the roundabout head into the markets for about 100m and then on your left you’ll see a tiny ally filled with people. Down there you can get an empty bowl to fill with as much vegetarian as you can fit for 15,000kip but beware it isn’t exactly fresh or hot but for the cheapest feed in town you know where to go.
Bars and restaurants
Almost all the tourists go to a place called Utopia which is more then impossible to explain how to get to. however, some other traveler in town within arms reach is sure to know the way down the alleys to find this little place. When that closes at midnight everyone goes bowling… yes bowling and its far cheaper to drink there then utopia where buying a whole bottle of whisky for your table will cost you roughly 40,000kip. From there enjoy the hangover 😉
What to do in Luang Prabang
The big thing to see around Luang Prabang is temples, there are 32 UNESCO heritage listed temples through out the city. Its most important to be respectful while visiting these temples and cover up appropriately and respect all signage and privacy. Remember you are a guest in a sacred place and people do live there. The most popular is probably Vat Xieng Thong and costs 10,000kip to enter and is lovely to wander around for a little while.
Mount Phusi is something stunning to climb especially at sunrise or sunset. You’ll see it as soon as you arrive in town and it looks intimidating but isn’t really much of a climb. It’ll cost you 20,000kip for your entry but that goes to keeping it clean and maintained
My favourite thing to do in town was to simply enjoy the sunset down by the river. I’d watch the fisherman work their magic throwing huge nets. Watch the boats pass by in the river. watch the monks spend time wandering the shores. I’d just watch, when I say it aloud it sounds creepy but people watching is one of my favourite things to do and this is a great spot for it