Laos, Travel Advice, Year of Travel

Luang Prabang – How to hit the highlights in 3 days

So you’ve got 3 days in Luang Prabang, Laos? Perfect, because that’s enough time to see all the good stuff and chill out. Here are some highlights – which days you fit them into is up to you!

Food

Budget: Head to the night-market, you can’t miss it. There’s a specific alleyway for food, and you can get everything from fresh fruit to beautiful cakes. Our suggestion is that you head to the end and pay 20,000kip for the vegetarian buffet, and then fill your plate! Best to go around sixish, when the food is being cooked fresh, purely because it’ll be nice and warm.

For pudding we recommend coconut pancakes. 5,000 for five, that’s a delicious bargain.

Fancy: Got some cash to splash (or just in need of a treat)? The Coconut Garden has a vegetarian (or meat version, for those of you who aren’t here for plant-based tips) tasting menu. It includes some delicious glass noodles, salads, banana fritters, and plenty more – for around 110,000kip. It’s worth it for that one off splurge – after all, it’s rare that a veggie gets to try a tasting menu in Asia

Coffee

One place is the best, and that’s Saffron Coffee. You can sit and look our at the Mekong, bask in the quiet of nature, and enjoy a pretty cracking flat white or filter. They also do coffee tours taking you on a journey from bean to cup, with tasters and treats on the way.

Boozing

Laos (and perhaps more specifically Vang Vieng) was once known as a party place and still has a little bit of that reputation. We’re here to tell you that it’s no longer really the case. There are cocktail bars that do great choices at reasonable prices (try the Lao Cocktail for a treat), and there’s also banana whiskey which we would personally recommend. We aren’t party people, and haven’t been for a long time, but if you are you’ll find that past 11pm the city of Luang Prabang stops dancing. More a night-owl? All the cool kids talk about going bowling, outside of the city. Apparently it’s the only place you can get a drink after closing time. We wouldn’t know about that though, because we’ll be in bed enjoying a jasmine tea.

Sights

Luang Prabang can be walked around and you can hit those main sights by foot alone – so unless you’re heading for the waterfall (an hour’s drive away) you won’t need a tuk tuk. There are some lovely things to see, the morning & night markets are great, the many temples are beautiful, the two bamboo bridges are fun to cross (though cost money), but over and above all this – literally – we would recommend going to the top of Mount Phousi. It’s not a difficult climb, and is around 185 meters up. The legend is that the Monkey King (yeah, he gets capitals) brought the Queen the top of this mountain from Sri Lanka so that she could enjoy the rare ‘monkey ear’ mushrooms that grew on top. It’s been in front of the palace ever since.

Swimming

Go to the Kouang Si Waterfall to witness the most incredible water you’ll ever see. You can swim here, and even on a busy Saturday it’s a dream. It costs 20,000 to enter (well worth it), and if you join a minibus will cost 40,000 to get there. To go privately will cost much more, so join a minibus.

Shopping

The night market is ideal for shoppers of clothing and souvenirs – they have everything you could need, including some very delicious local coffee.

Something a little different…

If you have a spare evening and want to learn more about the beautiful Laos, we recommend visiting the Traditional Storytelling Theatre. They perform every evening at 6.30pm. Arrive at 6.00pm for tickets (50,000) and good seats. The performance lasts around an hour and will take you on a delightful journey of local folktales, accompanied by some excellent traditional music.

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