Luang Prabang – the ancient capital of Laos, hiding in the jungles of Upper Laos and the mighty Mekong, Luang Prabang (Luang) welcomes travelers by its cool and graceful atmosphere. The distance from Hanoi to the heritage city of Laos is nearly 900 km long, of which 700 km is the road through passes.
Luang Bus Station is located on the outskirts of the city. We took a tuk tuk ride into the center, arriving at the hotel on Kingkitsarath Street, between Phousi Mountain and the Nam Khan River, opening the window, a cool breeze from the river blew into the room and dispel the heat of the early summer.
The sun rising through the window of my hotel woke me up and my eyes caught the distant mountains hidden away under the cloud of forest. The house combining the French architecture and the traditional architecture of Laos hidden under the coconut shadows can fluctuate your heart any time watching.
Beautiful sunshine through the window of hotel
We were also informed by hotel receptionists about mourning activities of monks around 5-6 am on the central streets. That morning, due to the sunset of the day we missed, the next day we definitely had to take part in this exciting activity.
Having great sightseeing already, we have to find something to fill up our stomachs. The best option is Luang Market. The market locates to the left of the Royal Palace is now the National Museum of Luang Prabang. The bustling market place sells a lot of Lao foods such as grilled chicken, roast pork, bamboo shoots and even vermicelli dishes that are quite similar to Vietnam.
In the center of the market, there is a large noodle shop, mainly indigenous people. We were introduced to Lao noodles with coconut milk vermicelli served with pork and herbs.
Specialties that must be tried here
Along the main path, tropical fruits like watermelon, mango, and pineapple are sold very much. We know, in this market, small traders do not raise the price. The sales people are always on the bright smile and cheerfully answered the very question: “How much?” of visitors with “Sa bai dee” (hello), “Khop chai” (thanks).
Hanging around the market, we are all full stomach with the food of the flavor of the country eleven million elephants. Breakfast is more than enough to explore this beautiful heritage city.
The small city located at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers is the highest density of pagodas in the world, with a 98% of the Buddhist population. If you are standing on the top of Phousi, you can see the four sides of the temple, where the temples with the strong pointed towers, characteristic of Buddhism in Laos are everywhere.
Wat Xieng Thoong temple
When you travel to Luang Prabang, you definitely have to visit the oldest and most famous temple called Wat Xieng Thoong. Built in the reign of Setthathirat in 1559-1560, the temple called Wat Xieng Thoong means the temple of the Golden City. With its curved roof-top architecture and numerous small shrines and sculptured carvings, the carved, elaborately carved sculptures. All created a scene that we have to admire the skillful, meticulous people here.
In addition to the unique temples, Luang attracts visitors by many unique houses, a harmonious combination of traditional Lao and French architecture. It is this unique space that Luang Prabang was recognized by UNESCO as World Cultural Heritage in 1995.
Situated downstream of the Mekong, the Kuang Si Waterfall is about 30 km from the center of Luang Prabang. Taking a tuk tuk, we leave the central area on the shady Teak Road.
Travel around on tuk tuk
In contrast to the burning hot springs of upper Laos, the Kuang Si Waterfall offers a cool backdrop. The waterfall is about 60 m high with many different layers, winding and embracing the primary forest. Some members of our team can not resist the flow of fresh water, they jumped down the mighty waterfall, sometimes hear the cheering screams of tourists back.
At the Kuang Si Waterfall, there is also the Bear Preservation Center, Butterfly Farm which is our attraction for newness and closeness to Mother Nature.
Kuang Si Waterfall
Leaving Kuang Si late in the afternoon, we were driven by a tuk tuk driver to the center, which is the perfect time to look at the sunset. In Luang, where the best sunset view is nowhere else is Phousi Peak located opposite the Royal Palace. We climbed all 328 steps to reach Phousi Peak about 150 meters. Zoom into the west, where the sun is slowly falling on the mountains, sunlight printed silver on the Mekong legend.
Travel Notes Luang Prabang:
– Airplane: Fly directly from Hanoi to Luang Prabang. For those coming from Ho Chi Minh City, you can fly to Bangkok, then catch a flight to Luang Prabang. Price depending on the time, 2 million – 4 million round trip.
– Road: Currently, at the Underground Station (Hanoi) there are many buses to Luang Prabang, prices range from 800,000 to 950,000 VND. In addition, cities such as Vinh, Da Nang or Dien Bien Phu, as well as daily passenger service to and from Luang Prabang.
– Food in Luang is mostly greasy and spicy grilled dishes. Except for the noodles, the meal is quite green vegetables.
– Lao beer is one of the drinks that many tourists prefer. Price is 10,000 – 15,000 kip Laos (27,000-40,000 VND).
– You should enjoy the fish and shrimp dishes caught in the Mekong River near Wat Xieng Thoong.
– Prices usually fluctuate about 15,000 to 35,000 kip Laos / meal / person (40,000 – 100,000).
- Other note:
– Women should pay close attention to your costume when visiting temples and the Royal Palace.
– We should use sunscreen, hat or umbrella because the weather here is sunny and hot.
– Night market sellers often raise the price, so you should ask a reduce about 50-70%.