In last week’s post I covered the first five of the Top 10 things to do in magical Luang Prabang. As I have said before, this is my favorite little city in all of Asia, and that’s saying a lot! If you ever have the opportunity to go there, I really can’t recommend it enough. It’s one of those places that pretty much everyone loves. So without further ado, here are the other five things that you shouldn’t miss if you are fortunate enough to go there.
6. Royal Palace Museum And Wat Ho Pha Bang
The former royal palace is a tasteful and well-executed blending of traditional Lao and French beaux-arts styles. Visitors are allowed to wander throughout the majority of the building where you can see all sorts of traditional Lao art pieces, images of Bhudda, and gifts from various overseas dignitaries scattered through what were the living spaces of the royal family and the exhibition halls. Located within the same grounds is Wat Ho Pha Bang which is an incredibly elaborate (some might say too much so), multi-roofed, structure covered in shiny red, gold and green colors both inside and out. The palm trees surrounding it help give it that simple extra touch that makes you really feel you are without a doubt in Southeast Asia.
7. Phu Si
Located right in the middle of the old city centre and toped off by a gilded stupa named That Chomsi, the 100 meter tall hill of Phu Si is the best place to get good views of the entire city. Like the Pak Ou caves you’ll have plenty of stairs to walk up to get there, but it’s worth it. You’ll see the Mekong on one side and the Nam Khan River on the other with everything else in between and beyond. It’s most heavily visited for sunsets, but I prefer early mornings for the peace and quiet. Besides, there are better places to view the sunset in Luang Prabang in my opinion (see next).
8. Sunset Viewed From The Banks Of The Mekong
Again, I don’t think Phu Si is the best place to see the sunset in Luang Prabang. There are too many people up there in a relatively small space, and besides that there are some nearby trees and unfortunate placement of radio towers that kind of ruin the view and the ambiance. Instead, head to one of the cafes along the bank of the Mekong, and have an ice cold beer or freshly made fruit shake after a long day of walking around seeing the sights. Or better yet, during the dry season you can walk across the Nam Khan River via a temporary bamboo bridge, and from the banks near the Mekong you can get by far the best views of all. The orange-ish light glowing over the mountains and into the waters of the Mekon is a stunning sight to behold.
9.Tat Kuang Si Jungle Park and Waterfalls
About a 45 minute drive outside the city of Luang Prabang lies the intriguing and beautiful Tat Kuang Si. This jungle park is full of virgin growth forest that surrounds a very impressive, multi-tiered waterfall with opal-blue pools of water scattered all about that you can swim in. There are decent paths and walkways that enable you to engage in various sections of the falls if you care to make the effort. If you do go higher up you will be rewarded with picturesque views across the cascading waters with lush, green mountains in the background. The park likewise houses a zoo-like bear enclosure whose inmates were saved from certain death from the poachers who had captured them and would likely recapture them if the bears were let back out into the wild.
10. Morning Market
Unlike the handicraft night market that caters to tourists, the morning market is there for the locals to shop for their everyday dietary needs. Try to get there early in the morning when things are really bustling. You’re guaranteed to see some pretty interesting foods, some cooked, most in the raw. There are the typical fruits and vegetables, rice, and chicken and fish that you’d likely expect, but there are also frogs, Mekong seewead, giant bugs, snakes and the like – yes, all for eventual consumption! And don’t be afraid to try some of the freshly made cakes and pastries while you are there. They go great with a fresh cup of Lao coffee on a cool morning.
Oh my, writing this makes me want to go back just that much sooner. Laidback and beautiful Luang Prabang, I already miss you so…