Luang Prabang is a city located in north central Laos, on the Mekong River about 425 km north of Vientiane, and the capital of Louangphrabang Province. The current population of the city is about 22,000.
The city was formerly the capital of a kingdom of the same name. Until the communist takeover in 1975, it was the royal capital and seat of government of the Kingdom of Laos. The city is also notable as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Luang Prabang has a tropical monsoon climate with rainy season from May to October and a drier climate from November to April. The annual average temperature is approximately 25 degrees centigrade and the annual precipitation is approximately 1300 mm.
How to get there
Luang Prabang is served by Luang Prabang International Airport with non-stop flights to
- Laos : Phongsaly, Vientiane, Xieng Khuang
- Thailand: Bangkok, Chiang Mai
- Cambodia: Siem Reap
- Vietnam: Ha Noi
Luang Prabang is linked by road to
- Route 13: Vang Vieng and Vientiane
- Route 1: Muang Xay
Slow boats travel between Vientiane and Luang Prabang and between Luang Prabang and Houay Xai. Taking a slow boat is an adventure for seasoned travellers only. Expect no toilets, no comfort and expect to take your time. This is the real way to see old Indochina.
Wat Xieng Thong
The temple is the most stunning in Luang Prabang, richly decorated with coloured glass and gold.
Mount Phousi and Wat That Chom Sii - situated 150m and 300 steps up above the peninsula with spectacular views of the city and surrounding countryside. The climb is tiring, but the views from the top are certainly worth it. From the top, you can see the old Royal Palace, now the Palace Museum, the rivers and surrounding villages. The temple has a gold spired stupa that can be seen from most parts of the city.
The Royal Palace, now a museum houses a collection of artefacts belonging to former rulers of the Kingdom of Lane Xang. Photography is not allowed in the museum.
Ban Lu (or Lu village of Ban Phanom)
2.5 km from the centre of Luang Prabang
Ban Lu is famous for cotton and silk weaving and some beautifully hand-crafted souvenirs. The Lu people of Ban Phanom originally came from Sip Song Panna in the southern Chinese province of Yunnan, having been invited by King Kitsarath.
Kuang Si Waterfall
About 30km from Luang Prabang
These beautiful, multi-level falls are popular with tourists and locals alike as picnic grounds and photo opportunities. The falls tumble down over 60 m, through a series of pools and the spray keeps the surrounding picnic grounds cool throughout the hottest times of the year.
Note: During the dry season, from November to May, don't waste your time as the falls are only a trickle.
Tad Se Falls
21km southeast of the city
Tad Se Falls are on a much smaller scale than Kuang Si, though often you do have a good chance of a private viewing, as most tourists haven't discovered them yet. Like Kuang Si, they are many small tiered formations rather than one huge stream. Drivers charge about 50,000 kip (US$6.58) for up to three or four passengers.
Note: As with the Kuang Si Falls, during the dry season, from November to May, don't waste your time as the falls are only a trickle.