A place with the true beauty and vivid memories of Asian yesteryear dating from well before colonial times, Luang Prabang, is rightfully the town with best preserved colonial architecture in Indochina. Walk down the memory lane to discover the authentic charm of this city which is hidden away in every corner of every street and every alley. Best things to do in Luang Prabang are the enchanting “Tak Bat ceremony” where hundreds of Buddha monk in beautifully-vibrant-saffron-colored robes are traveling down the street of Luang Prabang before the break of dawn to receive food offerings, cruising down the Mighty Mekong River to experience first handedly the local way of life during the golden hour of the sunset with sundowners, walking through countless exquisitely hand drafted monasteries and temples including the majestic glass mosaic Three of Life at the famous Xieng Thong Temple, hiking those steps up to Mount Phousi to witness the panoramic view of Luang Prabang, and making the journey to Laos’ most beautiful waterfall, Kwang Si, swimming in the crystal clear turquoise natural water, staying at the wonderfully renovated 100-year-old former governor’s residence paradise, Sofitel So Luang Prabang, and having authentic Laos cuisine at Manda des Laos.
Starting off with everyone’s favorite part; what are the best things to do? Where to go? Best places for Instragram? We got you all covered! Best time to explore the city is early morning to beat the crowd and for the ultimate experience. Starting off with the earliest activity that is climbing up those steps to Mount Phousi for the spectacular sunrise. Sunset is equally stunning but way too packed with walls of people, so we recommend going there for Sunrise. Next stop, Tak Bat Ceremony or morning alms which will be happening every morning from 05.30-6.30 AM along all of the main streets while main procession being around Xienngthong temple, primary school, and National Musuem. This is truly not to be missed as it could not be seen or experience anywhere. You are welcome whether to politely observe or take part in. Tak Bat is a long-standing Buddhist tradition please do participate with respect.
To continue the momentum we will continue with temple hopping. We recommend 3 temples that you must visit. Starting with Xiangthong temple. It is one of the most important monasteries, famous as a place for coronations to Laos Kings and for its all mosaic made tree of life. The unique vibrant green roof tips, the sparkling mosaics, black painted wall with golden drawings make this temple very unique. Next stop, Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham, this is a lovely more low key kind of temple. It has the most impressive golden wall, fully hand craved from top to bottom telling a story of every day life in Luang Prabang with temples, animals, houses, and festivities. And last but not least “Royal temple” or “Haw Phra Bang” which was built to house the laos’ most sacred Phra Bang Buddha, for which the city of Luang Prabang is named after. It is very beautiful and photogenic. Best photos are to be taken from the stairs or from the high white wall just outside the temple.
Another activity that is must is a trip to Kwang Si waterfall, about 45 mins ride. You can access by hiring the car from the hotel (with the driver), tuk tuk, or rent the motorcycle to get there. This 3 layered waterfall with a powerful 50m drop of dreamy turquoise water tumbling from the thick tropical jungle above into the divinely sculptures yellow limestones below, layers after layers. The closer you get to the waterfall the more beautiful it gets. There are many perfect Instagram spots here. Be sure to arrive as and when it opens at 8 AM to have the place by yourself. Do pack your swimwear, towel, picnic snacks, and of cause your camera!
Quick stop before heading back to our hotel at the hippie/ gypsy bar, Utopia. Absolutely love this place. The riverside bamboo platform floor, relaxing cushions and sofa, and sun deck in lush green environment with view overlooking Nam Khan. Here we had few beers Laos white (for me) and dark (for Patrick). Then heading back home at Sofitel So. Behinds the high white wall reveals only 26 suite each equipped with beautiful high ceiling, four/posters, billowing white mosquito nets, long corridors, walk-in slower, over sized bubble bath tube (comfortable fitting for two), his and hers sinks, ornamental garden, and own swimming pool. Just in time for late lunch where we headed to Governor’s grill, the main restaurant that sits in this romantic safari tent in the lush green garden. If you are luck, you will be accompanied by Mano and Manee, one white one brown, one male one female. These two fluffy rabbits are the loveliest. They were so crazy cute and calmingly kind. You can pet and feed both of them. They love carrot but not so much the cucumber.
Sun is getting low and at 4.15 PM our phone rings, hotel front office informed us that our driver is ready to send us go to the pier for the fantastic sunset cruise with Mekong Kingdom. The ride was only few minutes from Sofitel So. At 4.30 PM the boat departures, for the 2 hours sunset cruise down the mighty Mekong River. If we had more time we definitely would do the cruise from here all the way to Chiangmai (North of Thailand). Definitely for next time :) Sipping champagne on the sun deck. The view is mesmerizing, watching the clear blue sky turning into golden yellow then bright orange and then fury red with the backdrop of Mekong River and it’s beautiful surroundings. After the cruise, it’s dinner time. We were picked up and dropped off at our dinner venue, 3 Nagas, Sofitel So sister boutique hotels. The first thing we spot was this incredibly beautiful vintage burgundy Citroen parked outside. The hotel itself is equally stunning, this charming wooden house situated in city center. The restaurant is specialist in authentic Laotian food. Do try “Laap” – minced pork mixed with roasted ground rice, fresh herbs, lime, and spices and “Khoua Sine Ngous Sai Kathiem” – sautéed beef with garlic and onion in oyster sauce. Another recommended dinner place is no other than Mandas de Laos, the restaurant 3 gigantic lotus ponds has been listed under UNESCO heritage. Food, drinks, and ambiance are the killer. If you are looking for date night or fine dining with friends and family. This is the place to be. So that’s the wrap up for our 4 days 3 nights birthday weekend for Patrick. Happy Birthday Baby and Thank you Luang Prabang! You have been so amazing. Until next time.
Jybby & Patrick