Laos in Brief – A Quick Guide to Luang Prubang
A Quick Guide to Luang Prubang
Incredibly romantic Luang Prabang should be considered a must see, with its shimmering temples, saffron-robed monks, unique cuisine and culture in a stunning stetting. Once the capital of Laos and still considered to be its spiritual heart, with a rich meld of French Indochinese architecture, Buddhist temples, slick cafes and chic boutiques showcasing the best Laotian handicrafts.
What to do and see in Luang Prubang
Temples & Sunset on Mt Phousi
Whether you’re into seeing the shimmering temples you’ve glimpsed in tourist brochures or simply want to chill out under a frangipani tree, watching the monks go about their daily routines in a secluded spot, Luang Prabang has it all. Climb the 300 steps to the summit, where you will be rewarded with panoramic views over Luang Prabang and the Mekong at sunset.
Daily Almsgiving at Sunrise
As the sun rises in Luang Prabang around 200 Buddhist monks depart from their various temples to gather their daily meal from locals who wait quietly by the roadside. This daily ceremony is both peaceful and spiritual and gives you a wonderful opportunity to experience an ancient Lao tradition.
Luang Prabang night market
One of the best handicraft markets in Southeast Asia; we’d also award it the title of most relaxed. Shoppers can browse without hassle and bargaining is a peaceful, easy-going experience.
Pak Ou Caves and Whiskey Village
A scenic two hour upstream boat journey from Luang Prabang are the holy Pak Ou Caves that are filled with thousands of Buddha images in varying sizes and styles. Stop at Ban Xang Hai handicraft village (aka Whiskey Village) where you can sample some Lao Lao, the potent local brew.
Kuang Si Waterfalls
Take a refreshing swim in the turquoise waterfalls at Kuang Si. Here there is also the Australian initiated “Free the Bears” project where you can see the freed beautiful Asian bears in a more natural environment.
Lao Massage and Herbal Sauna
Head to the Lao Red Cross for a traditional Lao massage where all therapists have been trained by Madame Ohn who has worked there for almost two decades. Also try the traditional sauna with steam infused with an aromatic mixture of plants and herbs, a local experience we recommend.
Day classes typically begin with a visit to the fresh market for shopping and an introduction to all the herbs and spices essential to Lao cuisine. Participants then prepare four to six dishes along with the essential sticky rice and jeow (Lao dips) and get the recipes in paper to take home.
Living Land Organic Farm
Living Land Farm’s “Rice Experience” teaches both young and old about rice growing and let’s you try each of the 14 steps. We’ve heard parents and kids rave about what a fun, educational experience it was.
How’s the food?
Spicy meat salads, sticky rice, noodles, curries and fish tempt your taste buds, right alongside culinary remnants of French colonial occupation. Crunchy baguettes stuffed with pate and salads to high-end French restaurants offer tasty delights at reasonable prices. And of course, ice-cold Beerlao to wash it down which is considered Asia’s best beer.
Dress modestly, especially when visiting temples or the royal palace, shorts should be below the knees and shoulders need to be covered. A hat or umbrella is useful against the sun or put on sun block before leaving your hotel. A good pair of shoes is recommended, if exploring on foot.
Is Luang Prubangy for you?
If you’re seeking an exotic yet safe holiday the city has a newfound popularity with older travellers and families for its laid back pace of life and friendly inhabitants. The town boasts an exceptional range of restaurants, guesthouses, luxury resorts and hotels to suit any taste and budget.
The best time to go to Luang Prubang
Pi Mai, or New Year, occurs in mid-April and is the most elaborate and vibrant of the festivals dotting the Lao calendar year, seducing all that are lucky enough to be there.
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