Luang Prabang – A Little Slice Of European Decadence In Laos

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by Anna Lynch

Luang Prabang Markets

Charm is not a word I use loosely (or often) when describing Asia…

But if I were to use it at all, I would do so in the hope of accurately portraying the quaint little UNESCO World Heritage Listed town of Luang Prabang in Laos.

The picturesque horizon views & European influenced architecture, blend seamlessly with what seems to be the most popular pastime in town… lounging the day away in one of the many coffee shops, doing little more than watching the local life pass you by.

Morning Alms For The Early Risers

Between 5.45am and 6.15am each morning, monks from the local temples gather in singular fashion & march through the town in a spectacular display of bright orange and sunburnt red robes…


Monks Collect Alms Early in Luang Prabang Laos

Collecting their daily alms…

… usually a donation of fruit or vegetables from the local residents who rise just as early to ensure they’re in position to present their offerings to the sage like monks.


Monks Luang Prabang

Monks Collect Alms When Were Usually Still Tucked In Bed In Luang Prabang

That Phu Si/Wat Tham Pho Si

Now I’m not one to persist in investigating every temple I encounter while abroad… but if I were to choose one temple to visit in Luang Prabang, I’d recommend That Phu Si/Wat Tham Pho Si.

Your reward for conquering the many stairs that lead to the temple…


Views Over Luang Prabang

Panoramic Views Over Luang Prabang

… are the spectacular 360 degree views of the town below & its idyllic mountainous surroundings – you may even find yourself in conversation with a local monk also making the journey to the top.

Kwang Si Waterfalls and The Lucky Bears

Located approx an hour’s scenic drive out of town, is the Kwang Si Waterfalls and Bear Rescue Centre – a half day trip I highly recommend.


Kwang Si Waterfalls Loas

Stunning Scenes At Kwang Si

A remarkably peaceful spot with beautiful cascading falls breaking into breathtaking turquoise pools below… a great spot for swimming – there’s even a rope swing for the kids or the young at heart.

Nestled into a quiet spot near the waterfalls to enjoy your picnic lunch…

… taking some time to relax before enjoying any afternoon adventures that may come your way.


Rope Swing At Kwang Si Waterfalls Laos

Graceful Swing?

Be sure to check out the local bear rescue centre at the bottom of the falls – they’re doing some amazing work, saving & enriching the lives of bears rescued from hideous fates.

Spared from miserable lives spent in small cages at bile farms, the pet trade, and performing for audiences.


One Of The Lucky Bears

One Of The Lucky Bears In The Free The Bears Rescue Centre, Near Luang Prabang

Tip – on the way home skip the ‘free village tour’ that may be offered to you by your driver… as it’s nothing more than a 5 sec walk through a touristed village site where children scramble over to offer their dusty trinkets as their mothers watch from afar.

The Desserts – Ohhh the Desserts – Quite Possibly the Dessert Capital of South East Asia

I don’t think I have seen that many bakeries and cake stands in such high concentration outside of Paris… Nutella chocolate crepes and gourmet homemade biscuits, sticky buns, bagels and ice-cream treats, accompanied of course by great coffee…. delicious!


Luang Prabang's Delicious Food

After spending many months travelling in South East Asia, I had come to the disappointing conclusion that dessert consisted of either ‘fruit’ (and anyone who knows me knows what I think of fruit as a dessert) or if you were REALLY lucky sweetened rice with fruit…

… not exactly getting my tastebuds tingling.

I can safely say, one of the biggest problems you’ll face in Luang Prabang… will be deciding between the copious choices of decadent deserts at your finger tips…

The deliciously, rich & moist looking chocolate brownie?  Or a slightly warmed slice of mango crumble accompanied by vanilla ice cream?

Hungry anyone?

Joma Chocolate Tart Luang Prabang

Joma Cafe Luang Prabang

Be sure to include in your travels in Luang Prabang:

  • a coffee and indulgent slice of warmed, crumbly homemade mango crumble and ice-cream from JOMA bakery
  • a decadent ice-cream sundae with caramel chunks, chocolate sauce, nuts, cream and cookies from SAFFRON
  • a tasty – ‘just like mum would make’ home made cookie from the nightly market.

It Wouldn’t Be Asia Without A Night Market

Be sure to stroll through Luang Prabang’s massive nightly markets – where you’ll find everything from silks to immaculate wooden carvings… brightly displayed paper umbrellas, all sorts of home made trinkets, and a huge outdoor feast!


Night Markets Luang Prabang

One Way To Spend A Warm Evening In Luang Prabang

Allow at least 3 days of indulgence and relaxation in Luang Prabang… enjoy a relaxing Laos massage, rise early one morning to take in the incredible sight of 50 brightly clothed monks collecting alms, and consume more than your fair share of great coffee & cake – you won’t be sorry for a second that you did!


We stayed at and recommend Mekong Holiday Villa by Xandria.

We found this quite little guesthouse on the river to be very well priced, excellently located and with helpful staff. Further you are entitled to limitless daily tea, coffee and bananas.

Getting To Luang Prabang

We took a 2 day slow boat from Huay Xai in Thailand – where you can stand on the river bank in Thailand and look across the river to Laos on the other side.

You can take a speedboat that makes the journey in 1 day but it looks a little scary.


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