The scenic city of Luang Prabang is as serene and holy as it is alive with warmth and energy. Three days in this hillside area is just enough to discover the rich culture and diverse communities of Laos, as well as some of Luang Prabang’s nearby natural wonders.
Day 1: The Holy City
Rise early and head to the main street of Luang Prabang, where young monks studying at local monasteries march through town carrying large drums and asking for alms. This parade of vibrant orange robes takes place every morning just as the sun rises and is a must-see moment for anyone visiting the city.
Afterwards, wander through the aisles of one of the numerous street markets (the enormous and lively Phousi Market, perhaps) and grab a fresh baguette to chew on as you explore the area futher.
Next, head to Wat Xieng Thong, also known as the Golden City Temple. Built in 1560 where the Mekong meets the Nam Khan River, this is one of the most important monasteries in all of Laos, where monks venture from around the country to study.
Day 2: Hike to Great Heights
Start the day with a sunrise hike to the top of Mount Phousi. Located in the heart of Luang Prabang, hundreds of steps lead to the top of this hillside, where travelers are rewarded with incredible sweeping views of the city streets and the rivers of Luang Prabang. Allow about two hours to climb the winding path to Mount Phousi’s peak.
Then relax on a tuk tuk ride to Kuang Si Falls before hiking the wooded paths to the top of this three-tier turquoise waterfall. Rushing blue waters cascade more than 60 meters down rocky cliffs to form calm pools perfect for a refreshing dip.
Day 3: Local Culture
The whole city is rich with diversity and culture. Start the day at the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, a popular destination dedicated to preserving the arts, crafts and shitory of Laos’ diverse population. The museum’s permanent collections showcase crafts, artifacts and wares from a number of Laos’ traditional ethnic communities. Alternately, travelers can visit the ethnic villages directly on tours that provide an authentic experience and the opportunity to interact with the Hmong and Khmu people, among others.
Once you’ve made your way through the center’s halls, head to the Royal Palace Museum. Built in 1904 as a home for King Sisavang Vong, this epic structure seamlessly blends the traditional architecture of Laos with French colonial influence to create one of the most impressive museums in Luang Prabang. Regal marble steps lead travelers into the main entry hall, where gilded Buddhist statues stand to greet them, and massive paintings depicting local life hang along the walls of the King’s Reception Room.