If you are in Luang Prabang, a must do is to climb Mount Phousi (or Mount Phou Si, or Phu Si) for fabulous views out over the city and the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers.
Luang Prabang city is situated on a narrow peninsula hemmed in on the NW side by the Mekong River and on the SE side by the Nam Khan River with the river basin itself surrounded by mountains. The Mount Phousi entrance is right in the middle of the city peninsula at the end of the night market opposite the gates of the Royal Palace (official name is Haw Kham, which is now a museum).
Mount Phousi towers about 100m over the city and there’s 328 steps to climb to the summit, but it’s a relatively easy climb if you are moderately fit.
At the top, the views over the city, Mekong and Nam Khan rivers are spectacular, especially at sunset with the setting sun reflecting off the city’s many temples’ golden spires and stupas, with the misty mountains in the distance as a backdrop.
On the climb up Mount Phousi, amongst the lush vegetation, you may see monks in their blazing saffron-orange robes relaxing in the shade, as there is a small Buddhist temple at the top called Wat That Chomsi.
Its stupa was built in 1804 by King Anourat (1791-1817).
There’s also the remains of an old Russian anti-aircraft gun, that the Pathet Laos had hauled to the top to defend the city during the American War.
You can descend the way you came up, or go down the steps on the SE side to the banks of the Nam Khan river.
On Maps, go to the Royal Palace gates on Sisavangvong Road and walk 50m further north and across the road, to where you see the steps going up to Mt Phousi.
The stupa was built in 1804 by King Anourat and was restored in 1914. One legend with ancient roots in the Ramayana period tells how the mountain was moved from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) by the monkey King Hanuman. The Ramayana is an ancient Indian epic poem of 24,000 verses which tells of the struggles of the divine prince Rama to rescue his wife Sita from the clutches of the evil king Ravana, with the support of an army of monkeys and bears. It’s thought to have been written by Valmiki around 500 BC to 100 BC.