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Looking for an itinerary of Luang Prabang, the top destination of Laos? Luang Prabang presents travelers with several options – from ancient pagodas to gurgling waterfalls.
I will suggest 3 days in Luang Prabang is an ideal time to experience the ancient city as well as its surroundings. To break it down – keep 2 days for sightseeing in Luang Parbang, and one day for a day trip from Luang Pabang. Here’s a complete three days Luang Prabang itinerary:
Day 1: Luang Prabang Itinerary
- Visit Wat Xiang Thong in the morning
- Climb up Mount Phousi for Sunset
1. Wat Xiang Thong
Also known as Golden City temple, Wat Xiang Thong remains one of the most important temples in the entire Laos. The incredible history of the Wat Xiang Thong dates back to the mid 16th century when it was constructed under the reign of the king Setthathirat. The temple’s significant is compounded further with the coronation ceremonies (kings of Laos) that took place here. The temples are stunningly decorated both from outside and inside.
The temple is located at the junction of Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, and makes for a nice stroll in the evening through the Old French architecture.
- Entrance fee: 20,000 kip/ $2.50. You can avoid it if you go just before the closing time.
2. Mount Phousi
Mount Phousi which is more of a hill than a mountain, sits right in the center of town. Take the short climb up the stairs, the sweat is worth the panoramic views of the town, the meandering Mekong river and the surrounding woods.
The main entrance is on the Sisavangvong Road. Come here for the sunrise and sunset, though it gets overcrowded at the sunset time.
- Cost: 20,000 kip/ $2.50
Day 2: Luang Prabang Itinerary
- Alms Giving Ceremony in early morning
- Exploring the countless temples of Luang Prabang in afternoon
3. Tak bat or Alms Giving Ceremony
Tak bat is something very unique which is also the main draw of the city. You must have already seen the trademark/ iconic pictures of the saffron robed monks with a bowl walking on the street in a single line.
Get up early at around 6 and you too can be a witness to the ceremony, better still buy some sticky rice and participate in the donation. Not to mention it is considered auspicious to give alms to the monks.
The procession starts from Wat Xiang Thong and goes along the Sisavangvong Road. You’ll see lot of locals taking part, and it is best to be respectful to the tradition. No selfies, no flash, no touching.
4. Temples of Luang Prabang
Just walk on the main street along the river you will stumble upon temples after temples. Each one has its own significance, and I will recommend you choose ones based on your interest and time.
Day 3: Luang Prabang Itinerary
On your third day, take a day trip from Luang Prabang.
- Combine a day trip to Kuang Si Waterfall and Tad Sae Waterfall
5. Kuang Si Waterfall
The most popular waterfall near Luang Prabang is located about 30km southwest of the town. Kuang Si is a cascading waterfall which can be enjoyed round the year (unlike Tad Sae dries up in summer).
There is bear rescue center in the same area that you will pass through on your way to the Kuang Si waterfall. The bears, rescued from traffickers, are kept in a large area behind a fence. You can see the cubs playing or the mothers just sleeping; make a donation or buy their tee shirt if you think its worthwhile to support them.
When you are at Kuang Si, you can take a dip in the pool of the lower fall (it can be super cold though). The water is stunningly blue and you will find a changing room nearby. Also, if you are hungry there are a few restaurants around.
If you have time, I recommend taking a short hike to the top of the Kuang Si. Up there, the bamboo bridge across the stream are lovely to walk on.
- Kuang Si waterfall entrance fee: 20,000 kip/ $2.50
- Getting to Kuang Si: You can easily get here by a tuk-tuk or by renting out a motorbike (recommended). Tuktuk costs about 180,000 kips/ $25 but if you take a shared one it will cost you about 40,000 kips.
6. Tad Sae Waterfall
Lesser visited as compared to Kuang Si, Tad Sae lies across the river and one needs to take a boat to cross. You can take an elephant ride near the entrance (Personally, I think elephant tourism is animal cruelty but if you already eat animals, well…)
Tip: Avoid the dry season the as Tad sae falls disappear.
Getting there: The distance between Luang Prabang and Tad Sae Waterfall is 15 km, plus you have to take a 10-15 minutes boat ride to the other side.
- Boat fare – 10,000 kip.
- Tuk-tuk round trip with wait time: Around 140,000 kips.
Day 4: Optional
7. Pak Ou Caves
If you are staying long enough in Luang Prabang, consider a trip to the Pak Ou Caves, located 30 km down the river Mekong. You can easily reach here on a boat or by a tuk-tuk.
Pak Ou Caves are essentially limestone cave which is a place of worship for the locals for over thousand years. Today, you will find an endless barrage of Buddha statues in the caves, some of them in good condition while some not.
The two caves Tham Ting (lower) and Tham Theung (upper) are connected you can easily get between each other. A series of steep steps from Tham Ting will take you to the upper cave, remember to carry a flashlight as it pitch dark inside.
You can either take a tuk-tuk (much faster) or take a boat along the river (much better experience). Alternatively, you can book a tour which will also include a visit to the nearby village.
- Entrance fee: 20, 000 kips.
- Boat ticket: 60, 000 kips
- Tuk-tuk: 40,000 kips per person