"Saffron City" Luang Prabang by sieffron

Luang Prabang Travel Guide: 1,075 reviews and 2,742 photos

Surrounded by lush, steep, 2000 meter mountains, Luang Prabang sits at the point where the Nam Khan River joins the Mekong. Considered the cultural capital of Laos, this city of about 20,000 inhabitants is dotted with numerous Buddhist temples and greatly populated by monks draped in bright saffron robes. It is also one of the best towns in Southeast Asia to witness the history of French imperialism through architecture as Luang Prabang's many French colonial buildings combine with golden wats to contribute to its understated beauty.
Luang Prabang has many other draws in addition to its rich mix of colonial and religious architecture. Outside the city await outdoor adventures including experimental hill-tribe treks, river rafting and kayaking, mountain biking, and visits to gorgeous waterfalls. Not just some backwater, middle of the jungle town, Luang Prabang comes up with the goods when you need to reward yourself for your efforts in the great outdoors. There's plenty of massage/spa treatments, good eats, and relaxed shopping at crafts and clothing shops and the night market, all tended by the friendly and welcoming inhabitants of Luang Prabang.
This diverse city is now easier than ever to reach. You no longer have to sit on a bus for nine hours, staring nervously 1000 meters down into valleys from narrow switchbacks, or meander down the Mekong from Northern Thailand for two days (which I've heard can be nice in its own right, but not for the traveler on a tight schedule). Flights now arrive directly from Bangkok, giving visitors to the region no excuse to miss Luang Prabang.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Lots of attractions for visitors seeking culture, nature sports, or both.
  • Cons:It's time consuming and grueling to get there for travelers on a tight budget.
  • In a nutshell:Luang Prabang's got it all for visitors with either little or lots to spend.
  • Last visit to Luang Prabang: Oct 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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