Luang Prabang is one of the most charming and best preserved cities in Asia. To ensure this quaint and very picturesque town was conserved, languid Luang Prabang became a UNESCO World Heritage city in 1995, to guarantee preservation of the classic French colonial architecture along with the traditional Lao buildings and culture.
In 2017 it was ranked at No 10 on the prestigious Travel + Leisure‘s 15 Best Cities in the world and climbed the ranks to No 7 in 2018.
You may well wonder why? Well, apart from its exotic colonial charm, serenity, and laid back, languid lifestyle, its magnificent location on the peninsula between the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers, there’s also so much to see and do in Luang Prabang and its surrounds all year round.
After living and guiding in Laos for a combined total of more than 50 years, we have a wealth of experience and in-depth knowledge on the city and region, to identify what we believe are the top or 10 Best Things to do in Luang Prabang.
Which is unlike many so-called travel writers and bloggers, who flit in and out on a sponsored trip with a guide book, with no in-depth experience or cultural immersion whatsoever.
These 10 Best Things to do in Luang Prabang attractions are listed in no particular order, some are free, while for others there may be a small entrance fee.
Please note Mekong Kayaks accepts no payment or goods in-kind for listing these attractions. It is purely our team’s personal list of the 10 Best Things to do in Luang Prabang, which will change depending on the seasons and events, and is by no means exhaustive.
1. Tak Bat – Rise early and see the early morning monk procession as they walk barefoot around the city seeking alms
2. Mount Phousi – Climb Mt Phousi for fabulous views out over the city and Mekong and Nam Kham rivers especially at sunset
3. Café Croissant d’Or – for the best fresh croissants and coffee in Luang Prabang for breakfast
4. Tangor Bistro Indochinois – a fabulous bar/restaurant for just chilling in the evenings and people watching
5. Somjith Guest House – centrally located, inexpensive and clean
6. Drinking ice cold beer with freshly roasted cashews, beside the river at the south western end of Khem Khong Rd. Just chill by the river watching the sunset and the fishermen returning home
7. Phosi Fresh Market – in Luang Prabang where the locals shop for fresh fruit vegetables, fish, meat, and household goods
8. Tad Sae Waterfalls – A spectacular, massive cascade of rushing water especially during the wet season about 18 kms outside Luang Prabang.
10. Henri Mouhot’s – grave and tomb
Luang Prabang stands today where the ancient capital of the Lan Xang kingdom stood from the 13th to 16th centuries, which was founded by Fa Ngoum.
It was known as the “land of a million elephants and the white parasol” or Lan Xang Hôm Khao.
Lan Xang (a million elephants) to signify military might, and Hôm Khao (the white parasol or umbrella), a symbol of Buddhist royalty.
The highest royal order or knighthood of the Kingdom of Laos is the Order of the Million Elephants and the White Parasol. This royal order with accompanying decoration has not been awarded since the monarchy was abolished in 1975, when the Communist Pathet Lao movement came to power.