While many not think of Laos as a great vacation getaway destination, the truth is that it is an unbelievable place to visit. Despite being one of the last four countries on the planet that embraces socialism as its primary form of government, the stability of the nation and its natural beauty make it one of the nicest and most exciting places on earth to visit, especially for those who are looking for a tropical getaway that can’t be beat.
One of the cities that many are finding is an incredible place to visit is Luang Prabang. The city comes together are two rivers converge and sits beneath a hill where a large temple sits atop. With a series of patchwork neighborhoods are traditional Lao wooden homes are built as well as finding French colonial and other European architecture scattered throughout the city, this is truly a spectacular area where people will find magnificent displays of culture, history, and art all of the natural wonder that is Laos.
Demographics and Geography
Luang Prabang has a population of about 50,000 people. Because Laos is a country that is completely landlocked, there are no large bodies of water that border the nation in any area. However, there are large rivers that travel through the nation, and two of these, the Mekong and the Nam Khan Rivers, come together at the banks of the city.
Because of its location it can be extremely hot for most of the year in Luang Prabang. The average temperature from January through October is greater than 80°, with only November and December averaging lower than that range, but still in the mid to high 70s.
Large downpours of rain are quite common in the city, but are most prevalent during the months of June, July, and August. During these months it is not uncommon for Luang Prabang to see more than 10 inches of rain during the month. Because the city is so close to the two rivers there is occasional flooding, so tourists should be aware that this is a real possibility if you go to visit this area during this time of the year.
Getting to Luang Prabang Is a Snap —> BOOK FLIGHT
Most people come to the city by using the airport located about 3 miles from downtown Luang Prabang. There are five different airlines that fly internationally into the city, with most making connections in other Southeast Asian nations.
If you have not obtained a visa prior to coming to Luang Prabang, you can get one at the airport. Cost is typically around US $35. There may also be a processing fee included on this which can cost about one dollar. Visas are for a 30-day stay can be extended for an additional two dollar fee.
Getting from the airport to downtown is quite easy. There is a large taxi system the cost about six dollars and can carry up to three people. Many of the guest houses also have shuttles they provide to visitors staying with them.
If you are staying in Laos and decide to visit Luang Prabang, you can catch a bus that typically leaves from several different locations around the country for day or overnight trips to the city. Cost is usually around $25 round-trip. Some also choose the option of taking a boat up either river to the city. Cost may vary depending upon the type of boat and the accommodations.
Great places to see
There are great places and sites to see in the city of Luang Prabang. One of the favorites of tourists from all over the world is the Alms Ceremony. This is a public ceremony that occurs every day at dawn where the monks collect rice and giveaway the alms to tourists and kneeling villagers. To find the location of this all you need to do is look for the long row of rice baskets and stools that have been laid out for tourists.
The Haw Kham is a former royal palace that is now been turned into a national Museum. For just a few dollars you can enter this beautiful museum and see some of the artifacts and artwork that date back centuries. The Royal Ballet often appears here as well.
From Phou Si/Chomsy Hill you are able to get a great view of the whole city. It is a rather steep climbs and takes a little bit of time to get to the top, but once there you get one of the most spectacular views imaginable. Just so you are aware, those who do not have a particularly well developed fitness level should still be able to make the climb.
The Wat Xieng Thong is the oldest monastery in the city and is a spectacular place to visit. The main entrance is right along the Mekong River, and once inside you will love how truly beautiful this location is. It is a must see for sure.
One of the great places to be able to see from Phou Si is the Vipassana Temple and park. You get a great view of this Golden Temple from at top the hill, that you really do have to come up close to see it. It is absolutely spectacular.
Just outside the city is the Elephant Village Sanctuary & Resort. This is not only a great place to find elephants that are being cared for, but is also a resort area where you are able to stay. Currently there are 14 elephants being cared for their that are being abused in some way or another, and now have a safe place to stay. Elephant rides are offered and you will be taught how to give the proper command to control these large beasts.
If you are looking for a truly spectacular place to see then the Kuang Si Falls is a great location. This is accessible either by boat or by truck, and offers you a chance to see a multistage waterfall that is really spectacular to enjoy. You can even enjoy the water down below.
Not very far from this is the famous Buddha caves, also known as the Pak Ou Caves. This is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists each year it is a great set of caves are you can find statues of Buddha encased in the walls.