During a recent trip to Southeast Asia, my family wanted to visit one of the more mysterious countries we have left unexplored. This guide will help you plan a productive 24-hour visit to beautiful, Luang Prabang, Laos.
How to Get to Luang Prabang
Cutting through the mountains from nearby Bangkok was a delightful entrance to Luang Prabang. Now offering visa-on-arrival for many westerners, the airport is the fastest and easiest way to come to the city (bring passport-sized photos and about $25-35 USD.)
Major Alliances (Skyteam: Vietnam Airlines, China Eastern, Star Alliance: Thai)
If you are flying in from overseas you will have a connection elsewhere in Asia. Some carriers partner with Lao Airlines, others with Bangkok Airways from BKK.
Consider the discounters
Flying from Don Muang Airport (DMK) just north of Bangkok proper, Air Asia was our chosen carrier and offered roundtrips close-in to our travel dates for around $150USD roundtrip.
Kuang Si Waterfall
Just a little outside of the city (less than 20 miles from the Sofitel, 15 from the Pullman – about 45-60 minute drive) is the stunning Kuang Si Falls. Outside the complex are a series of restaurants and tourist shops with local goods, admission to the falls is 20,000 kip (about $2.30.) At the base of the Falls is a bear rescue and educational facility.
Mount Phou Si Sunset
The climb to the top of Mount Phou Si is just over 300 stairs at an incline of 100 meters. The steps wind visitors to the top where they will be treated to Wat Chom Si, a working Buddhist temple and accompanying Stupa. High over the Mekong river, it’s the perfect place to catch the sunset, however, those who want an unobstructed view should arrive early as crowds pack the area from an hour before sunset.
Night markets of Southeast Asia are a fond tradition for my family. Conveniently located in the middle of the old city and at the base exit from Mount Phou Si, visitors will find local food, souvenirs from handmade to made in China. Like the rest of Asian night markets, expect to haggle some, at least one third from the starting price (if not more.)
3 Nagas Restaurant
A favorite restaurant in the city was the 3 Nagas restaurant, offered by M Gallery hotels. The restaurant offers Laos cuisine with some French fusion in spots. Handmade ice cream and premium cocktails accompany teak from top to bottom. Snag a seat outside to dine under the lanterns that hang in the trees and people watch amongst locals and classic foreign luxury cars.
Stay: Sofitel Luang Prabang
Step back in time in the former French Governor’s mansion, the Sofitel Luang Prabang. Colonial heritage with modern amenities makes it the ultimate place to wind down after a busy day at the sights. The hotel, which offers less than 30 rooms and suites and excellent service is also a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.
Have you been to Luang Prabang, Laos? What should we add to our list for our next visit?