A Visual Travel Guide to Luang Prabang, Laos

Buddhist offering at Phu Si Buddhist Temple, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Buddhist offering at Phu Si Buddhist Temple, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source

One of Southeast Asia’s most romantic, tranquil, peaceful, charming cities is definitely Luang Prabang, a place packed with Buddhist monks seeking to enhance their spiritual life, and beautiful art expressions that go from the extraordinary intricate and glorifying design of the religious temples, to multiple lovely accessories made by the different craft artists of the region. The city has simple yet elegant Indochinese architecture uniformly followed across town, dominated by white houses with wooden applications.

Laos has no strong national pride because of their ethnic diversity; its population is comprised of 132 different ethnic groups. It even has Siamese, French and Japanese influences (Japan invaded Laos during WWII) that mingle in the already multicultural country. Luang Prabang’s inhabitants are characterized by their kind, tasteful, easy going nature; they have an unusual serenity to them that might be triggered by the Theravada Buddhism (Lao’s official religion), which emphasizes in “controlling extreme emotions by keeping a cool heart and making merit” as well as “doing good in order to receive good”. Most Laotian males go through a period of spiritual training in which they are ordained as Buddhist monks anywhere from one month to a few years. Imagine the effect these religious teachings have on the population….

Laos has very recently been liberated from the USA’s embargo they were submitted to since the communists took control of the country in 1975. It was until 2004 that it was promoted to normal trade relations with the rest of the world.

Luang Prabang's Old Quarter

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter.Tuk Tuk in Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter.Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter.Stupa, Buddhist Temple, Luang Prabang, Laos. Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter.Stupa, Buddhist Temple, Luang Prabang, Laos. Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter.Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter.Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter.Tribal Weaving (Luang Prabang, Laos).
Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter.
Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter. | Source
Tuk Tuk in Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter.
Tuk Tuk in Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter. | Source
Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter.
Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter. | Source
Stupa, Buddhist Temple, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Stupa, Buddhist Temple, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter.
Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter. | Source
Stupa, Buddhist Temple, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Stupa, Buddhist Temple, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter.
Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter. | Source
Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter.
Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter. | Source
Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter.
Streets of Luang Prabang's Old Quarter. | Source
Tribal Weaving (Luang Prabang, Laos).
Tribal Weaving (Luang Prabang, Laos). | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mekong River, Luang Prabang, Laos.One of many Restaurants alongside the Mekong River,  Luang Prabang, Laos.Bridge that crosses over the Nam Khan River, Luang Prabang, Laos.View of the Nam Khan River and Phu Si Hill (see Wat Tham on its summit),  Luang Prabang, Laos.Tuk Tuk,  Luang Prabang, Laos.Tip of the peninsula where the two rivers come together,  Luang Prabang, Laos.
Mekong River, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Mekong River, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
One of many Restaurants alongside the Mekong River,  Luang Prabang, Laos.
One of many Restaurants alongside the Mekong River, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Bridge that crosses over the Nam Khan River, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Bridge that crosses over the Nam Khan River, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
View of the Nam Khan River and Phu Si Hill (see Wat Tham on its summit),  Luang Prabang, Laos.
View of the Nam Khan River and Phu Si Hill (see Wat Tham on its summit), Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Tuk Tuk,  Luang Prabang, Laos.
Tuk Tuk, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Tip of the peninsula where the two rivers come together,  Luang Prabang, Laos.
Tip of the peninsula where the two rivers come together, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source

Luang Prabang is located in the north of Laos, where the Mekong and the Nam Khan rivers come together. The old quarter of the city, from which Luang Prabang expanded, is situated on a peninsula bounded by these two rivers. The town’s center is marked by a 100 m hill called Phu Si, to which one can climb and get a very good view of the landscape: unmanaged green vegetation of the mountainous regions beyond the two rivers.

One of the best ways to explore Luang Prabang is cycling through the slow traffic roads. There are many places where you can rent a bicycle in the old quarter, which radiates from Th Sisavangvong (main street) and its parallels Th Khem Kong (along the Mekong River) and Th Kingkitsarat (along the Nam Khan River). Most of the shops, cafés, restaurants, internet services, hotels, temples and tourist attractions, including the Royal Palace Museum and its theater are located in this area.


Southeast Asia

show route and directions
A markerLuang Prabang -
Luang Prabang, Laos
[get directions]

B markerVientiane -
Vientiane, Laos
[get directions]

C markerChiang Mai -
Chiang Mai, Thailand
[get directions]

D markerHanoi -
Hanoi, Vietnam
[get directions]

Luang Prabang has a long list of beautiful Buddhist Temples (Wats) to visit; no matter how many of them one sees, it is always surprising to observe their delicate, sophisticated beauty, in contrast to the humble nature of their worshiping monks and fellow religious followers. Some of them include: Wat Tham on the summit of Phu Si –from which you can watch the sunset-, Wat Mal Suwannaphumaham, Wat Pa Phai, Wat Si Bun Heuang, Wat Sirimungkhun, Wat Sop, Wat Xieng Thong.


Wat Xieng Thong

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos.Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos.Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos.Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos.Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos.Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos.Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos.Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos.Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos.Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source

Wat Tham & View from the 100m-high Phu Si

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Phu Si Gardens, Luang Prabang, Laos.Phu Si Gardens. Stairs to Wat Tham, Luang Prabang, Laos.Buddhist OfferingFacade of Wat Tham (Top of Phu Si), Luang Prabang, Laos.View of The Royal Palace and Mekong River from the top of Phu Si, Luang Prabang, Laos.Buddhist Sacred Village , Luang Prabang, Laos.View of the Nam Khan River from the top of Phu Si, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Phu Si Gardens, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Phu Si Gardens, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Phu Si Gardens. Stairs to Wat Tham, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Phu Si Gardens. Stairs to Wat Tham, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Buddhist Offering
Buddhist Offering | Source
Facade of Wat Tham (Top of Phu Si), Luang Prabang, Laos.
Facade of Wat Tham (Top of Phu Si), Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
View of The Royal Palace and Mekong River from the top of Phu Si, Luang Prabang, Laos.
View of The Royal Palace and Mekong River from the top of Phu Si, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Buddhist Sacred Village , Luang Prabang, Laos.
Buddhist Sacred Village , Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
View of the Nam Khan River from the top of Phu Si, Luang Prabang, Laos.
View of the Nam Khan River from the top of Phu Si, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source

Other Buddhist Temples in Luang Prabang

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Wat Sop, Luang Prabang, Laos. Wat Sop, Luang Prabang, Laos.Wat Sop, Luang Prabang, Laos.Wat Mal Suwannaphumaham, Luang Prabang, Laos.Wat Mal Suwannaphumaham, Luang Prabang, Laos.Wat Sirimungkhun, Luang Prabang, Laos.Wat Sirimungkhun, Luang Prabang, Laos.Wat Pa Phai, Luang Prabang, Laos.Wat Pa Phai, Luang Prabang, Laos.Wat Si Bun Heuang, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Sop, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Sop, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Wat Sop, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Sop, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Wat Sop, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Sop, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Wat Mal Suwannaphumaham, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Mal Suwannaphumaham, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Wat Mal Suwannaphumaham, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Mal Suwannaphumaham, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Wat Sirimungkhun, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Sirimungkhun, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Wat Sirimungkhun, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Sirimungkhun, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Wat Pa Phai, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Pa Phai, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Wat Pa Phai, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Pa Phai, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Wat Si Bun Heuang, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Wat Si Bun Heuang, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source

Royal Palace Museum and Ballet Theater

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Royal Ballet Theater, Luang Prabang, Laos.Royal Ballet Theater, Luang Prabang, Laos.Royal Ballet Theater, Luang Prabang, Laos.Royal Ballet Theater, Luang Prabang, Laos.Royal Ballet Theater, Luang Prabang, Laos.Royal Palace Museum, Luang Prabang, Laos.Royal Palace Museum, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Royal Ballet Theater, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Royal Ballet Theater, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Royal Ballet Theater, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Royal Ballet Theater, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Royal Ballet Theater, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Royal Ballet Theater, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Royal Ballet Theater, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Royal Ballet Theater, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Royal Ballet Theater, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Royal Ballet Theater, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Royal Palace Museum, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Royal Palace Museum, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Royal Palace Museum, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Royal Palace Museum, Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source

Royal Palace Museum & Ballet

Another interesting place to visit is the Royal Palace Museum, which has religious objects and Buddha sculptures in exhibition, including the gold standing Buddha, the “Pha Bang Buddha”, symbol of Lao’s sovereignty and the one that gives Luang Prabang its name. Within the premises of the Royal Palace Museum stands the Royal Ballet Theater, where traditional dances are performed in the evenings. These dances have very particular moves (not always what I would call “dancing”) and blend in some theatrics. Dancers are dressed with colorful, embroidered costumes and masks as you can see in the pictures.

Hand made dolls. Luang Prabang, Laos.
Hand made dolls. Luang Prabang, Laos. | Source
Hmong Night Market
Hmong Night Market | Source

Other Sites & Activities

  • A very nice place to shop around for arts & crafts as well as souvenirs is the Hmong Night Market. It is as interesting to observe the sellers that come from different parts of the region, as it is to observe the merchandise in offer. Crafts include gold and silver pieces -among the Hmong and Mien tribes-, and tribal Thai weaving. Starts 5:30pm until 10:00pm and takes place in several downtown streets that are closed for this purpose at dusk.
  • Phosy Market. This is a permanent market located in the south of the city. It is a huge market where fresh produce, candy, cookware, home accessories and much more is in offer.
  • Cooking Courses at (1) Tamarind Laos or (2) Tum Tum Cheng Restaurant and Cooking School.
  • Annual event of Pii Mai (Lao or Lunar New Year) in April.
  • Boat races during Bun Awk Phansa (end of the rains retreat) in October.


Cape Don, Australia.
Cape Don, Australia. | Source

More by this Author


8 comments

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

Oh my gosh, what a beautiful place! I hope I might get to visit it in person someday!


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 5 years ago from Mexico Author

I totally agree Simone, it is quite something. I do hope you go there and then we can exchange experiences.

Thanks for reading.


Prisana profile image

Prisana 5 years ago from Thailand and Colorado

Hi Claudia,

Thank you for such a great hub! Not only was it a pleasure to read, you also had such an impressive collection of photographs! I look forward to reading more of your hubs! Voted Up!!


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 5 years ago from Mexico Author

Prisana, thanks so much for your comments! I am very glad you liked my writing and photographs and appreciate very much the positive input.


Camille Harris profile image

Camille Harris 2 years ago from SF Bay Area

Claudia, gorgeous Hub. I visited Luang Prabang last year and loved every minute. It was a lot more mellow than Thailand (Bangkok + Phuket - crazy busy and touristy). I enjoyed the daily trips to the street market, and we even witnessed monks en masse, walking through the town, collecting alms. I'm sure your Hub will inspire many others to take the trek. It is so worth it.


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 2 years ago from Mexico Author

Camille, thanks for your interest in this hub even when you have already witnessed the enchanting beauty of Luang Prabang with your own senses. I am glad you had a memorable experience. Let´s hope it will keep a calm and peaceful town for years to come.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 2 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

My wife Manolie, a doctor from Laos, and I had the privilege of receiving a blessing from the last king of Laos at the palace in Luang Prabang after watching the boat races. He was a very special man, a spiritual leader.


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 2 years ago from Mexico Author

That´s fantastic, I guess one of the many experiences one is gifted with when marrying someone from another culture, one of many things to see, live and learn, more so when encountering a country like Laos.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working