Luang Prabang is one of those hidden treasures. It’s a place you may have read about in your Lonely Planet book or heard whispers of through the traveling community or via travel blogs, but it doesn’t seem to be on the main-stream tourist agenda quite yet. It’s getting there, I’m afraid. It’s hard to keep such a magical place a secret for very long.
I think our Adventures Resource Guide sums up the city perfectly (therefor I need not change a single word): “Luang Prabang is the splendid old capital of Laos, featuring a cluster of shimmering royal temples and remnants of the faded grandeur of the Lao Monarchy. The town is often described as jewel-like – tiny and compact. It is one of those Southeast Asian cities that most people have heard of, with preconceptions surpassed once visited. The unique character and charm of Luang Prabang helps to make it one of the most popular destinations in the country, with its laid-back lifestyle, numerous temples and friendly people.”
Experience Laos through the Royal Palace Museum
Learn a bit about the history of your host country as you spend an hour or two checking out the Royal Palace Museum. The museum is the former royal residence and also the only time I ever recall being barefoot at a museum, as you’re not allowed to wear shoes inside the museum! Apart from the Royal Museum, other Wats (temples) like Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Long Khoun and Wat Wisunarat are also worth visiting.
Learn to Cook Laotian Food
Luang Prabang is known as the best place in all of Laos to learn to cook traditional dishes. Classes are either full or half day and most classes begin with a trip to the local market to shop for fresh ingredients. Next, you’ll return to the class to begin learning how to prepare the dishes you’ve chosen.
Portions are large so the best thing to do is for everyone to choose a different dish to learn, prepare and then share with others in class. This way you’ll be able to try a bit of everything! Most schools include a cookbook in the price of the class so you can (attempt to) make the dishes for friends when you’re back home. Best way to experience Laos.
Visit to the Pak Ou Caves
One of Luang Prabang’s most famous sites, these limestone caves near the Mekong have been a place of worship for more than a thousand years.
A trip down to see the many Buddha structures varying in shapes and sizes is also a highlight when in Luang Prabang. You can get a glimpse of the mighty Mekong River while you’re at it. You can either join a tour or rent a motorcycle and drive yourself to the port where you can catch a local boat to the cave.
Hopefully, this post has given you a glimpse into the many awesome things to do around Luang Prabang. This city is a real highlight in my Southeast Asian travels and is a place that I urge everyone to visit.