Mt. Phousi (also written Phu Si or Phou Si) dominates the heart of Luang Prabang, rising around 330 feet (100 meters) above the city. Several temples and shrines adorn the slopes, with That Chomsi stupa at the summit. But the main attractions here are the city and river views, which can extend to the surrounding mountains on a clear day.
There’s a small fee to climb to the top of Mt. Phousi by various sets of stairs and winding paths, although the lower religious monuments can be visited free of charge. Sweeping 360-degree views are the main draw here, with a sunset-viewing session a popular way to round off a Luang Prabang day tour. If Mt. Phousi’s temples interest you, a private guide can explain the meaning of the various murals and relics enshrined here.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Mekong-sunset connoisseurs won’t want to miss the sunsets from Mt. Phousi.
- Mt. Phousi is a low hill, but its paths and steps can prove surprisingly steep.
- Much as you may wish to wash down your sunset with a sundowner, the religious site on the summit means alcohol is not allowed.
- Bring your camera to capture sunset views—but be prepared to come early to stake a tripod claim during high season.
How to Get There
Situated directly in the heart of town, behind the Royal Palace Museum, Mt. Phousi is hard to miss. It can be reached on foot or by bicycle from most central Luang Prabang accommodations. Stepped paths wind up from the northern, eastern, and southern sides of the hill, one of which boasts an impressive 329 steps.
When to Get There
Mt. Phousi is open from sunrise to sunset year-round, and it’s most commonly visited to watch the sun cross the horizon in one direction or another. During Luang Prabang’s tourist peak (November to January), the small summit can get unpleasantly crowded at sunset, so sunrise might be a better bet. Needless to say, climb on a clear day to enjoy the views.
Temples of Mt. Phousi
The temples on Mt. Phousi are not Luang Prabang’s most significant, but some are worth a visit en route to the summit. The 79-foot-high (24-meter-high) golden stupa atop the hill is That Chomsi. Wat Pa Huak includes 19th-century murals, while gold Buddhas surround Wat Thammothayalan. Pick of the religious bunch, however, is a 10-foot-long (3-meter-long) footprint, believed to have been left by Buddha.