Luang Prabang Things to Do Tips by Rodan44
Luang Prabang Things to Do: 427 reviews and 891 photos
Lotus Stupa of Wat Visoun
Wat Visoun, also called Wat Wisunalat, was constructed in the early sixteenth century, making it one of the oldest surviving temples in Luang Prabang. Inside is a very large seated Buddha figure with many smaller standing Buddhas on each side. The temple's most notable feature is the large stupa in front known formally as That Pathum (Lotus Stupa) but more commonly as That Makmo (Watermelon Stupa) because of it's rounded top.
Directions: A couple blocks south of Mount Phousi along the main road out of town.
Large Seated Buddha in Wat Mai
Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham, or Wat Mai for short, is an early nineteenth century temple and definitely one of the most beautiful in Luang Prabang. The most impressive feature of the temple is the gilded relief panels that cover the front outer wall and main doors, which depict the story of the highest incarnation of the Buddha, Vessentara. There is elaborate gold stenciling covering the temple inside and out, and there is a large gold seated Buddhaon the alter inside.
Directions: Sisavong Vang Road next to the Royal Palace Museum. A small entrance fee is required.
View of Khan River from Mount Phousi
Mount Phousi (also spelled Phu Si) rises 150m up from the center of Lunag Prabang. A steep climb of 300 steps and small admission fee will take you to the top, where you will be rewarded with spectacular panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside. Wat That Chom Sii sits on top of the hill, and its gold stupa is lit up at night, making for a bright beakon visible from anywhere in the city. In addition, there are several small shrines and a monastery on the hill.
I recommend climbing Mount Phousi as your first activity in Luang Prabang, as it gives you an excellent lay of the land.
Directions: Right in the center of town, you can't miss it.
Kuang Si Waterfalls
30km south of Luang Prabang are the impressive Kuang Si Waterfalls. They are in a remote area surrounded by several ethnic minority villages. The area around the falls has been developed into a pleasant park, with an area for picnics, and there are several food and drink vendors nearby. There are trails that allow you to hike to the top of the falls and you can swim in the pools at the bottom. Makes for a very pleasant daytrip if you stop at the villages on the way.
Directions: 30km south of Luang Prabang. Hire a car in town to take you there and back and allow at least half a day.
Lao Lao vendor in Ban Xang Hai
A common stop for tourists travelling up the Mekong from Luang Prabang to the Pak Ou Caves is the village of Ban Xang Hai, which is famous for the production of moonshine rice whiskey, known locally as Lao Lao. The rice whiskey is made by soaking rice in large jars with water brought directly from the Mekong. The rice ferments for several days after which it can be drunk as is or distilled to greatly increase the alcohol content.
Almost everyone in the village sells Lao Lao on the streets, and a bottle cost about US$3-5.
Directions: Along Mekong upriver from Luang Prabang on route to Pak Ou Caves. Boats can be hired along the riverbank in Luang Prabang to take you there, or you can hire a taxi to take you on the overland route.
Pak Ou Caves as seen from Mekong
25km up the Mekong river from Luang Prabang are the Pak Ou Caves. There are actually two caves, Tham Ting and Tham Phun, and each houses countless small Buddha statues that have been left at the caves by devotees over several hundred years.
The lower cave looks out across the Mekong itself and can be accessed by boat from the pier below. The upper cave requires a short hike up a flight of stairs and is much deeper and darker inside. So dark in fact, that you need a flashlight to see anything towards the back (you can rent a flashlight at the cave entrance for a small fee).
Directions: Confluence of the Ou and Mekong rivers, 25km north of Luang Prabang. A slow boat or speedboat can be hired on the riverbank in Luang Prabang for the scenic journey there and back. The boat can also stop at a couple of craft villages on the way up.
Wat Xieng Thong
Luang Prabang was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site primarily because of the large number of traditional old Buddhist temples, or wats, in the city. Wat Xieng Thong is the most important of all the city's temples. It was built in 1560 and represents the most classic example of Luang Prabang temple architecture. It has a gracefully curved three-tier roof and is elaborately decorated in gold and glass. The outer rear wall of the temple has an impressive Tree of Life mosaic, and there are several other smaller buildings surrounding the main temple. Inside the temple is a large gold sitting Buddha surrounding by many smaller Buddhas.
Directions: Tip of the penninsula where the Mekong and Khan rivers converge, central Luang Prabang.
The former royal palace in Luang Prabang has been converted into a very fascinating national museum. The palace itself was built a century ago by King Sisavangvong and was the seat of the Lan Xang kingdom monarchy until the current communist government came into power in 1975.
The museum displays much of the original furnishings and decorations from the palace, including the King's throne. The walls are adorned with many elaborate mosaic murals depicting life in the former kingdom.
Photos are not allowed inside the museum.
Directions: Nestled between Mount Phousi and the Mekong River, central Luang Prabang.
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