There is SO much to do in Luang Prabang we decided we wouldn’t even bother trying to list all of them. We visited twice during our time in Laos (once before and once after Nom Kiaw) and we loved it, so here’s a couple of our favourite LP activities.
Visiting the Elephants of Laos
Much like our encounter with Tigers in Thailand, the elephant riding in Laos is a difficult experience to describe. It was incredible being able to touch, wash and even ride the gentle giants, but it all comes down to the way the elephants are treated and the guilt one feels as a tourist seeing metal chairs strapped to their (albeit strong) backs.
They didn’t seem to be mistreated, and the life they have now is certainly better than being slaves for the logging industry, but carrying tourists around for long hours doesn’t seem idyllic. Do your research, read reviews of the sanctuaries, and hopefully your elephants will be as happy as these ones:
Sunset Cruise on the Mekong River
Buy a couple of cold beers, grab your camera and head down to the rivers edge. The banks are teeming with longboat captains trying to round-up passengers for a sunset cruise on the iconic Mekong river. The asking price starts at around 50,000 Kip (£4) per person but if you’re really trying to tighten your belt, harden your resolve, wait until the last minute and you’ll haggle the price down to something closer to 20,000 Kip (£1.60).
Luang Prabang Night Market
It’s easy to kill a couple of hours pacing the market; after nightfall the main streets of Luang Prabang are packed with hundreds and hundreds of stalls selling clothing, mementos and local handicrafts. What more could you want? A bite to eat, maybe!
When you’re wearied by the half mile of souvenir opportunities, there is an undercover food market with the most incredible selection of, well… everything.
Feed the Buddha
One of the most popular activities in Luang Prabang is to get up early (something like 5am) and watch the locals giving food to row after row of Buddhist monks.
Whilst this is pretty cool to see, it has to be said that the volume of tourists there snapping pictures seems to have turned to ritual into a bit of a circus. We felt so uncomfortable with the intrusiveness of the tourists there we didn’t even want to any a picture of our own (thanks to wikimedia.org for the one below).
None-the-less, if you want to experience it for yourself, ask your hotel/hostel what time the monks will be in your street – at least then you don’t need to wander the city looking for them. Just don’t stick your camera in anyone’s face!
Luang Prabang Breakfast Market
After an early morning monk-spotting session you’ll probably be ready for a hearty breakfast! Fortunately, the breakfast market in Luang Prabang is a Western traveller’s dream – it’s essentially a row of 30 identical stalls all selling fruit smoothies and breakfast baguettes.
After a couple of months on the road there’s nothing wrong with shunning the local fare and digging into a banana and Nutella baguette! If that doesn’t strike your fancy, there is pretty much everything else on offer, for only 10,000 – 20,000 Kip; that’s 75p to £1.50!
Dinner or Drinks by the Mekong
There are a couple of decent restaurants down by the rivers edge and, surprisingly, some of them are very reasonably priced. If you have a little wander along the road adjacent to the river you can check out the menus and if you’re feeling really brave, same some snake vodka as an aperitif.
Head down before sunset for some fantastic views while you tuck in.
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