This waterfall is by far on top of all lists of best places to visit in Luang Prabang. While anyone and everyone comes here, the falls are really amazing, with beautifully mystical azure blue waters and amazing rock formations that make the water flow so nicely in the smaller falls that follows. With an abundance of food options outside the gate, many even stay here for an entire day, basking in the tranquillity of the falls and the refreshing water inside one of the many dipping pools. A favourite for locals too, you’ll find lots of people relaxing by the waterfall on weekends.
There is also a Moon Bear conservation sanctuary right inside the waterfall park and it is just nice to see these cute creatures move around their spacious home which is well equipped with lots of obstacles and interesting features. They even have a feeding session where people get to go into the enclosure and hide food for the bears to find so as to help them keep their foraging instincts. Effective or not i have no idea, but certainly well-intentioned! The most common way this trip is arranged is via a combination tour with Pak Ou Caves in a full day tour. Prices in town can range from $40-$80 per person for a tour. Grab your own minivan for $60 here and have the flexibility to have 6 people and flexible timings for wherever you want to go!
The centre of Luang Prabang, this hill is just 100m high. However, as the entire town is UNESCO designated, very few buildings are over 3 storeys, and from this vantage point you pretty much have the best panorama of entire Luang Prabang. An attraction in itself, many tourists make the fabled 360 steps climb up to the top and enjoy the sweeping views. An easy climb for most, this place will probably take you around 1hour to enjoy and given its close proximity in town, you can easily do it together with the city sights such as the national museum, temples or even the night market if you want to see the lights at night.
National Museum and Royal Palace
Quite unmissable and a treasure trove of photo opportunities, it’s one of the main attractions in Luang Prabang! This is one of the main pillars of Luang Prabang’s UNESCO listing and it’s worth a look inside. 2-3 hours is a reasonable time to cater for this.
The whole town seems to converge on this main road from 5pm onwards. The lifeblood of so many all around Luang Prabang, it’s like their daily pilgrimage where they bring tons of wares painstakingly made by hand and set up stall after stall to sell. One of the best night markets around Indochina, the prices are also very reasonable as the people who sell are very often the ones who make the items themselves, and so they’re able to give you ‘factory-outlet’ price! Try not to bargain so hard though, you’ll come to know how difficult it is to create each item if you take up a course with one of our hosts at Backstreet Academy! Whether it’s a scarf, a recycled cement bag, embroidered purses, carved wooden ornaments, you’ll truly get to experience the creation process and feel the toil behind them after a backstreet experience.
Take some time to check out the street food alley! Located in a really small alley that is quite missable, you need to look out for the first alley to the left when you walk in from the main roundabout. There will be an unmistakable gathering of food stalls just outside of it! Lots of interesting food that you can’t find in the restaurants are done as the locals would have it! We personally recommend having one of the BBQ stations where there’s barbequed tilapia fish, pork ribs and chicken drumsticks! There’re also many buffet stalls which allow you to take as much as you want in one plate for just 15,000 kip! It’s not all that delicious but its an interesting experience if you’re really hungry! What’s more, how often do you get to try 30 dishes for the price of 1?
The Overrated Missables
Pak Ou Caves
The rock formations are pretty and picturesque, but it is not that amazing, really. It was a little too small for our liking and we saw the whole attraction in less than 30mins at our slowest pace. To spend an hour getting here, then getting boats and endless entrance fees to finally see this, its just very underwhelming. However, if you are the type that likes to see a vast amount of Buddha statues of all types and sizes all in one place, then this is a must-visit for you. Or if you are heading for an elephant ride up north, then this is something on the way and you could just take a look!
TAEC (Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre)
Probably the smallest museum in the world, we finished it in less than 15mins. For an entrance fee of 25,000kips, it’s…really… skippable. Again, unless you’re really into ethnic research and traditional anthropological studies, it’s hard for anyone else to find delight in this little space. If you are then it’s probably the most comprehensive collection of all the ethnic groups here in Northern Laos, complete with their traditional costumes, tools and way of life. It’s more like a research base for anthropologists.
Quirky Things you can do
Go Medieval with Backstreet Academy!
We provide the most unique and interesting things to do in Luang Prabang, hands down. No one else is able to provide such activities that’s guaranteed to stick in your minds and the top of your facebook feed! You can go medieval by becoming a blacksmith at Backstreet Academy’s knife-making course, or craft your own crossbow with 84 year-old grandfather Chai Song. Or if you always dreamt of being the farmer class in the feudal ages, then head for the fishing trip where you throw nets and see fish traps in action or the farming experience where you get to experience all 15 stages of growing sticky rice, complete with some bamboo weaving, sugarcane squeezing, flour-making.
Take a maker’s workshop with Backstreet Academy!
With the global maker movement in full steam, Backstreet Academy introduces you to the best makers who inherited their skills from their fathers, passed down for centuries. No fancy laser cutting machine or 3D printing, here you will carve wood with the tools of Angkorian era and weave silk scarfs on ingeniously pieced together wooden mechanical machines! It might sound entirely out of your abilities to complete something functional but you’ll be surprised how the masters can actually help absolute beginners churn out a beautiful handmade item all in half a day’s work (4-5hours).
Explore the beauties of Luang Prabang by Night
In tranquil Luang Prabang, the night brings out a different type of charm. Beautiful lanterns project light patterns onto walls and quaint streets. Outside the main town lies a number of quirky and interesting places your camera would love to devour. Here’s a quick guide on what we found so far! The eery stadium, beautiful colonial structures, a former cinema, cafes, monuments and even a Chinese imported bouncy castle that’s just for locals on the edge of the town. These are just some of the best places to visit in Luang Prabang that we found, explore and you will find more. 🙂
Travel Resources – Great blogs & useful articles
Travel Inspiration 360 – A great blog by Singaporean travel blogger Keith Yuen, who has already travelled to more than 57 countries! His interesting articles, travel tips and way of travel is a cool way to read about any city!