Most of us are not familiar with the city of Luang Prabang. But for those who have traveler and backpacker friends, this city is often mentioned for its heritage charm and tourist-friendly vibe on top of its old-world colonial draw. Luang Prabang is the heritage pride of Laos.
There are several ways to reach Luang Prabang. By land, there are sleeper buses from Hanoi, Vietnam or other places. There is no existing train network heading to Luang Prabang. Please do note that the distance from Hanoi to Luang Prabang is almost 900km and the trip might take forever to reach Laos. I had a terrible experience with the sleeper bus from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap so I put this one as the last resort.
Luang Prabang can also be reached via the Mekong River. Depending on the type of boat and the distance from Luang Prabang, this will have a travel time between 6 hours to 2 days. The Mekong River is regarded as an important river for transportation. It is the main waterway of Laos, it being a land-locked country with borders shared with Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, Thailand to the west, and to the north, Myanmar and China.
Located 5km from the city
Welcome to Laos
Flying in to Luang Prabang is the best travel option. Luang Prabang International Airport is located 5km east of the old town proper. There are flights from major cities in the southeast asian region, china and others. Cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai in Thailand, Hanoi in Vietnam, Siem Reap in Cambodia and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia via Air Asia flight.
Luang Prabang International Airport
It is to be my first time to visit Luang Prabang and Laos as a whole. I reached Luang Prabang via an Air Asia flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was a 2-hr flight with a time difference of 1 hr (behind) of KL time. For Philippine passport holders, there is no visa fee since Laos belongs to the ASEAN. We are allowed to stay in Laos for 30 days.
Luang Prabang has an extensive number of places to stay, ranging from high-end accommodation to backpacker’s hostel. Since it is a UNESCO WHS listed city, there are a lot of foreign tourists who come and visit Luang Prabang. The businesses in this city are mostly catered to foreign tourists,hence the cost of accommodation is higher than anywhere else.
Noradech Road Ban That Luang
I stayed at Luang Prabang Legend Hotel, a few blocks away from the main road of Sisavangvong. A room for 3 is about $65 a night depending on the season. Hotels along Sisavangvong is more expensive.
Common question asked is how many days is needed to visit and explore Luang Prabang. My recommendation is 2-3 days. Below is my suggestion and sample itinerary.
Arrive Luang Prabang in the afternoon
Explore Sisavangvong Road
Climb Mt. Phousi
Dinner along Khem Khong and sunset viewing over Mekong River
Night Market at Sakkaline Road
Mekong River Cruise to Pak Ou Caves
Traditional Lao Wine Village
Visit to Kuang Si Falls
Dinner at Sakkaline Road
Shopping at Night Market
Witness Tak Bat (Alms-giving Ceremony)
Visit Wat Xieng Thong
Visit Royal Palace Museum
Depart Luang Prabang
Best to book a hotel that is near to the main road. In Luang Prabang, people opt to walk instead of hailing a tuktuk. A single ride is 30,000LAK or 3.6USD. If the distance is short, you can try to haggle with the tuktuk driver and bring down the price to 15,000LAK or less.
Except for Pak Ou Caves, Lao Wine-making village and Kuang Si Falls, all places can be visited on foot. Luang Prabang gets a bit hotter during the months of April to December. Just don’t forget to bring hats, umbrellas or sunscreen. Most visitors arrange for a trip to Pak Ou Caves and Kuang Si Falls with an optional visit to the wine-making village. Our group booked a tour with KLOOK weeks before the trip. It is a one-day tour, inclusive of lunch and entrance fees to Pak Ou Caves and Kuang Si Falls.
You will never run out of food options in Luang Prabang. There are restaurants along Sisavangvong and Sakkaline Road. The Night Market also have food stalls at the side roads.
The city has also a lot of automated teller machines (ATMs) and there are money-changer shops in the town proper as well. We changed money at the Luang Prabang airport before we proceed to our hotel. US Dollars, Thai Baht and other major currencies are accepted.
Sunset View along the Mekong River
Vat Pramahathat Rajbovoravihane
My Luang Prabang experience will be on the next post.