Luang PrabangNestled amidst the mountains of northern Laos, Luang Prabang is a strong contender for the title of Southeast Asia's best-kept secret. Here, in the heart of the country, life moves in sync with the sun and nature, in a beautiful symbiosis of old and new. With its unspoilt natural wonders and golden temples glistening in the sun, Laos’ former royal capital has emerged as one of the most captivating and enchanting destinations in Southeast Asia. Little wonder that it draws in more than a million visitors each year.
The CityLuang Prabang is a true cornucopia of treasures, full of beautifully well-preserved French architecture lined up alongside old wooden structures that blend together in a charming combination of styles, interjected with golden Buddhist temples, and topped off with plenty of things to experience. Distinguished as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, the "royal Buddha image" city (the meaning of its name) and former royal capital of Laos will awaken your senses and offer a chance to temporarily dive into the past, where life seemingly runs slower and in full contact with nature. Today, despite the picturesque city of Luang Prabang being well-established on the tourist routes of many travellers to the region, it still preserves much of its pristine beauty and uncharted quality.
RestaurantsLuang Prabang's dining scene offers a great variety of eateries to choose from. Internationally-oriented food outlets that offer western-inspired dishes (try Tangor) to home cooked-style Laotian cuisine (e.g. Manda de Laos), you're sure to embark on a fantastic culinary journey.
Do & See
There are a plethora of things to do in Luang Prabang, even if ambling around the city's beautifully preserved Old Town where French colonial buildings blend with secular wooden structures. Some of the highlights include climbing the 355 steps that lead to Phou Si Mountain, crossing the meandering rivers, and splashing in the mesmerising turquoise waters of Kuang Si Waterfalls, its pièce de résistance.
Laos is known in the world for its rich, strong, top-notch coffee: Robusta and Arabica grown at high altitudes, which distinguishes them from varieties elsewhere. With most of its coffee harvested in the Bolaven Plateau, it's Laos' 5th largest export product, with 20,000 tons produced annually. No trip to Luang Prabang would be complete without paying a visit to some of the coffee shops listed below. Dig into the fascinating Lao coffee culture and history with a guided coffee tour which supports local farmers.
Bars & Nightlife
Although the magical city of Luang Prabang is known primarily for its cultural and historical heritage, there are many spots to chill and mingle with fellow travelers. Three major hot spots are Icon Klub, LPMC, and 525 Cocktails & Tapas; each offers great cocktails and delectable food to suit all tastes. Note that the party shuts down at midnight as days start very early in the morning (around 5 am).
The World Heritage City of Luang Prabang is a haven for lovers of handicrafts, fabrics like silk and Laotian cotton, woodcarving, jewellery, and more. The Handicraft Night Market is the most popular place for shopping enthusiasts, but if hidden gems are what you are looking for, read on and find out some of the most interesting spots to shop for charming souvenirs and local products.