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12 Things to do in Luang Prabang, Laos, UNESCO World Heritage City

Now to get back to Luang Prabang (after a New York time out), one of my new favorite places on Earth. If you are interested in, or planning on, traveling to Southeast Asia, you MUST put Luang Prabang on your destination list (and plan on spending at least three days there, if not a week)!

  1. Spend a day visiting some of Luang Prabang’s 32 shimmering temples, most notably Vat Vixoun, Vat Xieng Thong (pictured below), and Vat Sene.


  2. Climb Mount Phousi for sweeping panoramic views of this World Heritage City. Mount Phousi is located in the center of town. Climb the 300 steps to the summit, where golden-spired Wat Chomsi sits, in the late afternoon to watch the sunset over Luang Prabang and the Mekong.


  3. Visit the stunning Kuang Sii Waterfalls and Bear Rescue Center. [wpvideo k9wRGEFr]© The Traveluster
  4. Eat by candlelight with friends, exploring some of LP’s many cafes and bars with lovely outdoor spaces. Some of our favorites include: JoMa Bakery Cafe, Lao Lao Garden, Tangor, and Hive Bar.

    Candlelight dinner at Lao Lao Garden.

    ©The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.comIMG_8481Breakdance show at the Hive Bar [wpvideo yG31IwGm]

  5. Channel the Hmong and other mountain tribes at the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center. As you exit through the gift shop, be sure to pick up some really cool hand-made gifts. The proceeds go to the hill-tribe people who crafted them. © The Traveluster© The Traveluster

    © The Traveluster

  6. © The Traveluster© The Traveluster© The Traveluster© The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.comSpend the day (or half a day) washing, riding and learning to train elephants at the Elephant Village.

  7. Shop till you drop at the local markets while cruising the streets of LP. Markets include the Phousy Market and the Hmong Night Market. ©The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.comIMG_3068 ©The Traveluster©The Traveluster©The Traveluster©The Traveluster©The Traveluster©The Traveluster©The Traveluster©The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.comIMG_8534
  8. For the actively inclined: Cycle, Kayak or Trek. Some local outfitters include: Green Discovery LaosWhite Elephant Adventures, or Action Max Laos.
  9. Get your grub on at the night street food market. This food is no-joke. Fill your plate up, all-you-can eat for $1.00 USD!!! ©The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.comIMG_3070IMG_3072IMG_3073

    Yes, that’s a pig’s head

  10. Wake up before dawn to pay homage to the monks, young and old alike. ©The Traveluster©The Traveluster©The Traveluster©The Traveluster©The Traveluster©The Traveluster©The Traveluster©The Traveluster©The Traveluster www.thetraveluster.comIMG_8547
  11. Tour the Royal Palace Museum to see an impressive collection of Buddhist art and royal Lao artifacts.
  12. Visit the famous Pak Ou Caves.


As stated in the title, the entire city of Luang Prabang is protected as a World Heritage Site (#479).

As I write this post, I am itching to go back to this jewel-like town in Laos to do all the things I didn’t have time to do. I yearn to spend weeks there, just relaxing and taking in the laid-back, magical atmosphere, like so many people we met decided to do when they came for a week and stayed for six… or more!

So, I’m curious. Do you want to head to Luang Prabang?

For my next post, we’ll move on to Vang Vieng, the outdoor-adventure mecca, nestled in the most stunning karst mountain scenery!!

Thanks for stopping by!

♥ Lindsay

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26 Responses to 12 Things to do in Luang Prabang, Laos, UNESCO World Heritage City

  1. l-jeezy February 6, 2013 at 8:11 AM #

    these pics are AWESOME!

  2. Alison February 6, 2013 at 8:51 AM #

    We’re in LP right now. Have done all on your list except see the alms giving – going tomorrow morning.
    Need to see a few more temples (we love the temples).
    Also going to get the ferry across the Mekong river and explore around there for while – there’s a 25 min walk to a pottery-making village over there.
    Also there’s a fabulous restaurant across the little river (cross on the bamboo bridge) called Dyen Sabai – really cool place to hang out.
    And we’re going to do a day trip to the Plain of Jars – it looks amazing.
    *Best* place to see the traditional dress of all the different ethnic groups of northern Laos is the performance/fashion-show every Tues-Sat night at the Hive – followed by some really fun hip-hop boys.
    Love Luang Prabang. It’s a really special place.

    • The Traveluster February 6, 2013 at 10:15 AM #

      That is so neat that y’all are there right now! How long are you staying in total? I wish I was back there! Hope you continue enjoying that special place!! I really wanted to go to the Plain of Jars (next time!!) Let me know how it was!

      • Alison February 6, 2013 at 10:23 AM #

        We have 12 days total. Originally six but we like it so much we decided to stay longer.
        Unfortunately we won’t be going to the Plain of Jars either as we’ve found out it takes a whole day to get there 🙁
        But everything else is wonderful.
        We did a day trek to some Hmong villages that was fantastic.

  3. Jherson Jaya March 1, 2013 at 11:06 PM #

    wow! luang prabang 🙂 im planning a SEA Backpacking and for the reason that i dont know LP always strikes my heart whenever i research 🙂 i cant skip that city … i love your compilation… it will help me a lot! happy travels 🙂

    • The Traveluster March 3, 2013 at 10:22 AM #

      Definitely do NOT skip Luang Prabang! It is such a magical place! Enjoy, and let me know what you think about it after you get there!!

  4. aldo June 22, 2013 at 12:52 AM #

    Joma Cafe is the worst bakery in Luang Prabang’

  5. Dan September 7, 2013 at 1:39 AM #

    Nice article Lindsay. Next time you come to LP you must visit us at Ock Pop Tok and take a tour of our weaving centre on the Mekong or visit one of our shops in town. Contact us when you’re next back in town.

    On a side note, I think that saying Joma is the worst bakery is a little harsh- bearing in mind where we are, at least someone does bagels and wholewheat! But for best baguettes Le Bannetton is the hands down winner

    • Lindsay September 8, 2013 at 6:57 PM #

      Hey Dan! I’m so glad you liked my article, and I will definitely look Ock Pop Tok up when I am back (and I can’t wait to get back!) I actually said that Joma bakery was one of our favorite places. I think someone else may have said it was the worst in the comments section, which I disagree with! I love that place! I’ll have to check out La Bannetton too!!

  6. Nat February 10, 2014 at 12:58 AM #

    We are here right now to and There’s no denying its a stunning place but one thing no-one seems to be mentioning is how unhappy some of the locals appear to be with visitors which is a big shock after Thailand and I’m sorry to say is why I would not recommend it unless you are happy to ignore the sour straight faced looks you get if you smile or say hello. It’s really disheartened our mood and enjoyment of LP- a place we were really looking forward to visiting. Most we speak to who have been enjoying it also seem to be drinking beers as they go so maybe this is where we are going wrong. Oh and the fill your plate thing looks ok but all is cold and lacking flavour we found, to be honest we were grateful not to have been ill afterwards! Normally I am an upbeat traveller but as you can see I feel LP is squashing our positivity as soon as you smile at a local passing by

    • Lindsay February 10, 2014 at 3:47 PM #

      Hi Natalie- Wow, that’s interesting. I didn’t pick up on that so much when I was there a year ago. I can definitely see where there would be a disconnect if resources from tourism aren’t making it back in to the community. It’s such a “nice” town which seems to accommodate the Western traveling community with boutiques, trendy nice restaurants and pretty hotels. I was also only there a few days, so I wonder if I would pick up more of those nuances being there longer. It’s definitely a place I’d like to spend more time, but now I’m curious… do the local residents resent the visitors? I’d like to do some research in to this!

  7. Ingrid February 12, 2015 at 10:53 AM #

    Beautiful pictures! I’m going to LP next week and can’t wait to see all of this in real life.

    • Lindsay March 14, 2015 at 12:38 PM #

      Share your pics when you go, Ingrid!

  8. Rebecca June 21, 2015 at 11:27 PM #

    I have been there on March’15. I went to Viantiane, Vang vieng and then Luang Prabang.. And i’m falling in love with Laos..
    I want to visit Luang Prabang for second time and want to spending time for 1 week or more just to relax..

    • Lindsay February 5, 2016 at 10:42 PM #

      Rebecca, I totally agree with you! If I could go back to SE Asia right now, Luang Prabang is one of those places I would want to go and spend a week!

  9. amanda August 3, 2015 at 5:31 AM #

    nice tips! I’m going in a month 🙂

    but it makes me sad to see that people still ride elephants (animal cruelty) and also taking pictures of the monks with flashlight (disrespectful to their culture and morning ritual).. they do not look very happy 🙁

    • Lindsay February 5, 2016 at 10:54 PM #

      Hey Amanda! How was your trip? As far as the monks go, I think tourism has definitely become part of that dynamic for them. I didn’t get the sense that they were being disrespected by tourists. But, yes, with the elephants. That’s a different matter. I wasn’t aware of what went on with “mahouts” in the elephant sanctuaries, and the extent of abuse that happens at most of them, until after I returned from this trip. And I feel foolish about not knowing. It’s not something that I’ve studied in great depth, other than some basic research (and I have to pick my causes/battles – not able to champion them all), but if/when I return to the region, I would definitely want to explore the other side of that issue, as many bloggers and journalists have started doing.

  10. hanoiboutiquehotel October 8, 2015 at 3:55 AM #

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  11. Laos Tours Smile May 29, 2016 at 5:39 AM #

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    • Lindsay July 4, 2016 at 1:27 PM #

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