International Destinations: Luang Prabang, Laos

by Jeff Liebsch
Busan Haps Magazine
Luang Prabang in Laos is an absolute treasure that should be on any traveler’s destinations list.
 
The quiet, touristy town in eastern Laos only has a local population of around 5,000 but its quiet, hometown feel makes it feel like anywhere in the world, but with an Asian charm.
 
It’s no ordinary town however, as its bustling morning and night markets along Sisavangvong Road and beautiful views along the Mekong river helps it attract thousands of tourists and backpackers from around the world.
 
The town is currently rebuilding a lot of its infrastructure, from the entrance to the city coming from the airport, to higher-quality guesthouses to meet the demand of tourists, while maintaining its UNESCO Heritage status which it received in 1995.
 
Even though the prices in Luang Prabang are higher than other touristy places in Laos, its still a relative bargain for what you get. A lahp, Laos’s national dish, will run you around 30,000 kip, about 3,500 won (15,000 kip if you stay away from the touristy areas), and a big beer Lao will cost you about 15,000 kip, or just under 2,000 won.
 
If you do intend to spend a few days, keep in mind that everything closes early — this is not a party place like many other Asian destinations — everything shuts down around 10 p.m. and begins early, around 5 a.m.
 
If you do intend to travel to this magical town, here’s a few spots to put on your to-see list.
 
Night Market
 
 
The night markets in Luang Prabang are huge, and offer everything from snake juice to traditional Lao decorations and clothing. Taking up nearly a kilometer, Sisavangvong Road
transforms around 6 p.m. into a shoppers and eaters paradise. The fresh fruit juices, famous Lao baguette sandwiches and bakery items are all around 15,000 kip and are absolutely amazing. The market has various things for sale — from crafts, artwork, knick-knacks, and clothes all for very affordable prices.
 
Kuang Si Waterfalls
 
 
The largest waterfall in the area, the three-tiered waterfall has absolutely stunning views and great swimming opportunities. Jump into the swimming holes to cool off from the trek through the lush jungles, and be wondered by nature’s beauty.
 
It’s a 29 km trip from downtown, so you’ll more than likely need to take a minibus taxi there. It’s easy to find a place to do this — it usually costs between 15,000 to 20,000 kip. Please note the van will stop outside the gate and they will ask you for an additional $2 to get into the park.
 
The Temples
 
Luang Prabang has its fair share of temples — 33 to be exact. Wat Long Khuan near the Mekong River, Wat Xieng Thong and Wat Wisunarat are three worth ticking off your list if you are looking to check a few out.
 
Night Market Food Stalls
 
 
Down a narrow lane near the end of Sisavangvong Road and the beginning of Settathilat Road, the Night Market Food Stalls are the place to eat dinner. Choose from the many buffet-style restaurants where you buy a bowl for about 10,000-20,000 kip and fill it with a wide variety of amazing food. The bbq fish and sausages are out-of-this-world delicious as well. If you’re looking for a late night snack, hit the row of sandwich stalls across the road for one of the best sandwiches you will ever eat in your life.

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