Introducing the city

£1.00 | 10,500₭

GBP | LAK

Gasoline £0.79 | 8,249₭

One-way ticket £0.20 | 2,062₭

Beer £0.73 | 7,630₭

Main Course £1.57 | 16,498₭

About Luang Prabang

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang is Laos' cultural hub boasting untouched rural scenery, religious temples and riverside charm.

Built on a peninsula formed by the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, Luang Prabang is sometimes referred to as 'the jewel of the Mekong'. And while most travellers spend much of their time looking for a diamond in the rough, the ones who've visited this tiny, spiritual town - with a population of under 500,000 - may argue they already found one.

Luang Prabang is the most popular town to visit in Laos and with vast natural beauty, an array of temples and a fascinating Buddhist-inspired culture, it's easy to see why. Traditional timber homes sit among French colonial structures, while further afield wonders like the alluring multi-level Kuang Si Waterfalls provide some of the most visually spectacular sights in Asia. Essentially Luang Prabang is a peaceful place, where the locals are in bed by 10 p.m. and a spiritual ambiance offers a cultural insight into the real Laos. And after you've seen it all up-close, you'll find this town is a far bigger gem than you first saw in the shop window.

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Weather

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When Should You Visit?

November to May is dry season, although the peak season is between November and January because temperatures are slightly more bearable than the latter months of the dry season.

There are two seasons in Luang Prabang. Dry season falls between November and May and the hottest month is April with an average high temperature of around 35 degrees Celsius. High humidity at this time of year can make your visit slightly uncomfortable. The wet season runs from June to October although this is when the stunning waterfalls and jungle vegetation are at their most impressive. August and September are the rainiest months and during this time the Mekong River can see some flooding. The average high temperature in Luang Prabang rarely falls below 25 degrees Celsius all year round. The coolest month is December.

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Travioor top tips

Bowling
Getting Around
Arriving

Insider Info

  • Luang Prabang's bars have a curfew and shut very early on in the night. However, there is a bowling alley a short tuk tuk ride away from the town centre that is renowned on the backpacker circuit and known by all taxi drivers. Head here for late night fun and more drinks.
  • There are no motorbike taxis in Luang Prabang, only tuk tuks. You can rent a scooter for around £10 a day and explore the surrounding area yourself, although the roads are heavily damaged so beware of potholes.
  • Many people opt to travel over to Laos from Thailand via boat (usually from Chaing Mai, Chaing Rai or Pai) with Luang Prabang their first destination of real interest. You'll have the option of the fast or slow boat but go for the latter as the fast boat is a rather uncomfortable ride; the slow boat may take a little longer but it's a great opportunity to meet many people and offers a relaxing ride along the river.

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Food and drink

Main Course £1.57 | 16,498₭

3-Course Meal £7.07 | 74,241₭

Cappuccino £1.47 | 15,467₭

Beer £0.73 | 7,630₭

The Scene

Sometimes the Laos food can carry a negative reputation when it is compared to neighbouring Thailand. Yet, some excellent cuisine can be enjoyed in Luang Prabang. As expected at the markets and street food stalls, food is very cheap and cooked before your eyes using fresh produce and a selection of herbs. Luang Prabang is different from some other Asian towns as it carries a European influence, particularly French, which can be seen in many restaurants and dishes. At the authentic Laos eateries however, you may expect to find staples such as sai oua (a fatty pork sausage with chilli, garlic and herbs), khao soi noodle soup and orlam (a spicy meat curry).

The nightlife scene here is pretty quiet considering all the bars in the town centre close no later than 11:30 p.m. However, if you wish to carry on drinking the cheap spirits or local beer (Beerlao), all backpackers head for the bowling alley just outside of town.

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History

Luang Prabang’s Story

Archaeological evidence suggests that Luang Prabang has been inhabited since 8000 BC. In the 14th century, the first Laos Kingdom (Lane Xang) was founded here and prior to 1545 - when King Phothisarat moved the administrative seat to the current capital Vientiane - Luang Prabang stood as the royal capital of this kingdom. Despite this, the town still remained the country's primary religious centre and source of monarchical power. In 1694 however, Lane Xang fell apart forcing Luang Prabang to stand on its own as an independent kingdom in years to come, and by 1887, it had to accept French protection before establishing a French commissariat. This is why today there is a strong French influence in the town.

Following Japan's invasion of south-east Asia in WWII, Luang Prabang wriggled form the clutches of the French and Laos declared its independence from France in 1945, although it still remained a part of the French Union until 1954. Some time later in 1989, Laos' tourism industry was about to kick off. Despite not pulling in the same numbers as other popular towns or cities in south-east Asia, Luang Prabang is still slowly establishing itself as a must-visit destination on the backpacker circuit. Helped by its UNESCO World Heritage title in 1995, it remains one of Laos' most visited towns and a great hub for religion, culture and natural beauty.

Language

Sába̖ai-di̖i | Hello
Khàwp ja̖i | Thank you

Lao

The official language in Luang Prabang is Lao, although a significant number of people (particularly the older generation) speak French. In restaurants, guesthouses, bars and shops English is also understood by most given the increase in tourism over the last 20 years. You can get by fine with English, however it may be of use to know a few simple phrases such as the ones below:

  • Goodbye: Sôhk dii der
  • My name is: Kháwy seu
  • Excuse me: Khãw thôht

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Need to know

+856 Dialling Code
191 | 195 Emergency Services

Get The Low-Down

  • Watch out for potholes in the roads.
  • Take care of your valuables in busy areas, particularly the night market.
  • Prices in Luang Prabang are slightly higher than in the capital.
  • Bars in the town centre usually have a strict curfew of no later than 11:30 p.m.
  • Appropriate clothing should be worn when visiting temples and places of worship.
  • US Dollars are usually widely accepted.


VISA INFORMATION

Find out about the visa requirements for Laos here.

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Travioor Recommends

1. Kuang Si Falls

Visit one of the most visually spectacular waterfalls in Asia and take a dip in the turquoise waters.

2. Elephant Village

Enjoy a half or full day experience at the Elephant Village complete with elephant bathing, trekking and training.

3. Old Quarter

Explore the charm, atmosphere and character of the Luang Prabang Old Quarter.

4. Buddhist Temples

There are many Buddhist temples in Luang Prabang but perhaps the most significant is Wat Xieng Thong which depicts the Luang Prabang style.

5. Pak Ou Caves

Visit the fascinating Pak Ou Caves which are packed with Buddha images, located in a dramatic limestone cliff.


See What's On In Luang Prabang  


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