Luang Prabang is the former capital of Laos and the center of culture and religion of Laotian people with monasteries, monuments, traditional costumes, old French houses and beautiful scenery. Every year, Luang Prabang attracts thousands of both domestic and international tourists, especially during its yearly celebration called Pimai Lao (or Laos New Year) in mid April. The people are hospitalized, the atmosphere is typical, and the cultures are unspoiled. In 1996, Luang Prabang was voted as the World Heritage site
What to do?
If time is limited, top priority should go to the old city, marked by UNESCO as a ‘historic preservation zone’. You can tour the sights, from vibrant Dala Market to Wat Xieng Thong, one of the oldest and largest temples in the town. Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham is worth a visit, especially at dusk when you are likely to hear the murmuring chants of monks praying. Next to Wat Mai is the Royal Palace Museum, which is housed in a mansion that was once the royal palace. Its interesting to see how humble and sparsely royal families once lived. Standing like a guardian above Luang Prabang is the Phou Si Hill, surrounded by smaller temples at the lower level. A 15-minute climb to the summit leads to That Comsi, a stupa where some royal remains are kept. Sun rise or sunset is the best time to visit Phou Si. The views of the town, the Mekong River and its tributary, the Khan River, and the surrounding mountains are most striking at this vantage point. Dont forget your camera. The following day, enjoy some of the sights around Luang Phabang by taking a boat up the Mekong River and contemplating the hundreds of Buddhas within the holy Pak Ou caves, or travelling south through the surrounding hills to one of the area’s two major waterfalls, Kuang Si and Tad Se. Luang Nam Tha is a good base for trekking and river trips, although the town itself doesn’t have much to offer. Make sure you soak up the town’s languid atmosphere by wandering the streets of the old quarter at dawn, when the town’s legion of monks receive alms, or at dusk, when the air fills with otherworldly chants wafting from the temples.
Dress decently, especially when visiting temples and mosques. If you wish to wear khakis, they should be long enough to cover the knees. A hat or umbrella is useful against the sun. Put on sun block and moisturizer before leaving your hotel. A good pair of shoes is recommended, if you wish to explore on foot.