Travel Guide: Luang Prabang

UNESCO World Heritage city Luang Prabang was the third city that my friend Kyle and I visited during our week in Laos. We spent two nights in Vientiane, another two nights in Vang Vieng, and the final three nights here in Luang Prabang, which was definitely my favorite of the three cities we visited. It was serene and beautiful with good cafés and a bar that served a delicious spicy cocktail. It was truly a wonderful way to end an amazing week full of good conversation and exciting travelling experiences.

To get there, we took the most beautiful bus ride that I have ever experienced. It was over seven hours long, a bit crowded, and not as ventilated as we would have liked but I am so glad we were able to see so much of Laos during our travels. The country is very rural, very agricultural, and absolutely stunning. The higher we climbed into mountains and the more we were able to see, the more humbled I felt for being so privileged to be where I was, seeing what I was seeing.

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Like much of former French Indochina, Luang Prabang maintains colonial charm with a distinctly Asian vibe. Mopeds and bikes are the preferred means of transport for locals and many tourists, and tuk tuks and songthaews are easy to come by to get around. Also located on the Mekong River and surrounded by mountains, Luang Prabang is beautiful as well as historic.

Kyle and I spent much of our time in Luang Prabang exploring the delicious Asian and French foods, coffees, and other sorts of beverages that the city had to offer. We walked through a very busy night market selling souvenirs of all sorts, as well as various fruit juices and snacks. Mostly, though, we just enjoyed being in the quiet outdoors, particularly welcome after the more raucous town of Vang Vieng.

By far my favorite experience in Luang Prabang was our trip to Tat Kuang Si, which I’ve seen described as Laos’ “most spectacular waterfall”. I haven’t seen all the Laotian waterfalls, but this one certainly deserved the top-shelf adjective. Even young monks were playing in the water!

Unsurprisingly, this waterfall came with a story:

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I have to thank an Israeli tourist who we met, too, for making this a particularly memorable experience. Moral of the story: My Hebrew used to be a lot better! I understood everything she said but responded mostly in English. She, of course, understood perfectly and responded mostly in Hebrew. Small world just gets smaller the more of it I experience.

As a UNESCO World Heritage city, we expected Luang Prabang to have a range of temples to explore, in addition to its incredible natural beauty. We were not disappointed.

On our final night in Laos, Kyle and I climbed Phu Si Hill at the recommended time (shortly before sunset) to get a look at the entire city:

We passed various Buddhas and temples on the walk down the hill, which was a nice reminder of the values of this beautiful country:

I am so glad to have had such a relaxing, rejuvenating week in Laos with such a good friend. It was really wonderful to explore this country with Kyle, and to get his perspective and ideas on what we were doing, seeing, and experiencing. We had great conversations throughout, which was the best overall part of the week. I’d happily return to Laos at any time – let me know if you’d like to come with me!

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