Things to Do in Luang Prabang, Laos
Aside from the obvious activities of visiting the many temples and soaking up Luang Prabang’s tranquil atmosphere, here are a few favorites to check out.
- Kwang Si Waterfall: You can take a tuk-tuk around 30 kilometers (45 minutes) outside of Luang Prabang to the gorgeous Kwang Si Waterfall. Escape the heat by swimming in the various pools; you’ll find food, drinks, and even a bear rescue center in the vicinity of the waterfall.
- Visit the Night Market: The night market is open nightly from around dusk until 10 p.m. You’ll find great river fish, Khmer food, pho noodles, and lots of souvenirs, including fabulous silk. Arriving early as vendors are setting up will sometimes land you better prices. Avoid purchasing the many environment-unfriendly souvenirs made from animals and insects.
- Phou Si: The large hill in Luang Prabang is known as the “Holy Mountain.” From the top, you can get amazing photographs of the town and Mekong river. Many people choose to take in a mountain sunset after visiting the temple on top of Phou Si. Avoid supporting the merchants who sell small birds in baskets that you can release from the top for good luck.
- See an Alms Ceremony: You’ll have to be up at dawn to see an alms ceremony, but watching scores of monks make their rounds to collect their daily food is an amazing sight. If you participate, bring your own food or fruit, stay low profile, and don’t interfere with the procession in any way.
Money in Luang Prabang
Although Lao Kip (LAK) is the official currency, many merchants and restaurants will accept — and sometimes prefer – US dollars or Thai baht. Mind the exchange rate you are offered if paying with a different currency other than what is listed.
Western-networked ATMs located near the night market dispense Lao Kip. Banks in town are a better choice for changing money than the sketchy money changers.
The Luang Prabang Curfew
Bars begin shutting down around 11 p.m. in Luang Prabang, and all businesses are required by law to be closed by 11:30 p.m. The curfew is strictly enforced, however, a few brave business owners have been known to create impromptu speakeasies with shades drawn and lights dimmed. The only “official” place for nightlife and socializing after 11:30 p.m. is strangely the bowling alley located at the edge of town; any tuk-tuk driver will know about it and take you there. Many guesthouses in Luang Prabang lock exterior gates at curfew. If you didn’t make arrangements with the staff for a late-night return, you may find yourself precariously scaling the gate or security wall to get back inside!
Luang Prabang Weather
Luang Prabang, Laos, receives the most rain during the wet season between April and September. The rest of the year is hot and humid. December, January, and February are the coolest and most pleasant months to visit.
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