A Journey to Cultural City in Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang is a beautiful cultural city. This charming town is located in north central Laos. Luang Prabang is an outstanding example of the fusion of traditional architecture and Lao urban structures with those built by the European colonial. Visitors to Luang Prabang are charmed by the friendly atmosphere of this small town. The town itself offers several unique insights into the history of the region, through excellently preserved Buddhist temples, museum and a variety of Lao, Tai-Lue, Burmese, Chinese and Tai architecture at the Night Market. Luang Prabang sells a large variety of traditional goods.
The town is famous for its unique textiles and beautiful mulberry paper. Famous foods in Luang Prabang are ‘Aur Lam’ (a thick stew made with the forsted herb), ‘Sakhan’, (meat and eggplants), ‘Jaew Bong’, (a sauce made with hot chilies and buffalo skin) and ‘khai Pan’ (dried river weed lightly fried with sesame seeds and garlic).
Learning the traditional through Buddhist temples
The wonderful thing about Luang Prabang is its scale: there’s plenty to see, but a few morning strolls can take most of it in. The earlier the better in fact, since most folk roll out of bed at 6am to offer alms to the resident monks (in a ceremony known as takbat). Luang Prabang has no shortage of either monasteries or wats and for many visitors this is the source of its charm.
Wat Xiang Thong is the grandest. Located near the tip of the northern peninsular, it was built for the royal family in the 16th century and is a prime example of the area’s temple architecture. Look out for the large tree of life mosaic on the rear wall. The conical Phou Si wat at the top of the town’s central mound provides a great lookout for sunset, while the longboats stored at Wat Saen give you a sampler of the town’s boat festival in the autumn.
Sightseeing and Adventure Tours
You’ll not be short of options when it comes to tour providers. As well as the many lining Xiang Thong, even the tuk tuk drivers will have printed rates for trips. Look at half-day tours to the lovely limestone Kuang Si and Tad Se waterfalls – good for a splash and a picnic – and the caves at Pak Ou, which offer a good excuse for a boat trip. Chock full of old Buddha statues the caves are a sombre sight.
Other adventures can of course be taken farther afield. Explore hidden rivers in kayaks, ride elephants through the forest, or trek through the hills and lay your hat at Hmong and Khmu village home-stays along the way. Great insights are on offer on some educational trips that make considerable effort to impart local knowledge beyond the neat ‘tourist’ package.
Luang Prabang Night Market
The Evening Market is a nightly event that takes place between 17:00 and 23:00 beginning at Wat Mai and running along Sisavangvong Road to the town centre. The street is closed off to vehicles. Apart from the market vendors, shop-houses and hotels lining both sides of the road are also open for business. The range of products include handmade souvenirs, Lao coffee beans, homemade whiskeys, books, all the way to street-side noodle stalls tucked away in a small lane and hotel sidewalk cafés serving drinks and, of course, Beer Lao. For a serious meal, though, head over to the end of the market (where Sisavangvong Road meets Settathilat Road) and you will find the Night Food Market as well as food vendors down the narrow lane just next to it. Note that the market can get very crowded after 20:00.
HOW TO CATCH A TUK TUK IN LUANG PRABANG?
Tuk Tuk has long been a unique symbol and a part of Luang Prabang’s bustling urban life. Today,Laos have a lot of traffic by car, but Tuk Tuk is still a common vehicle and the pride of this country. If you want to catch one tuk tuk, take out one arm, palm down, wave Tuk Tuk drivers down. Then, immediately there will be a bunch of tuk tuk ready to serve you.
Where to EAT!
This great restaurant in welcoming homely environment is perfect to start your journey in Lao cuisine. The restaurant is created with the aim to introduce the Lao specialties to all guests. Offer at Tamarind is a selection of set menus featuring variety of Lao cuisine. Every Friday, a Barbecue Fish Feast takes place. Start your meal with Lao Lao cocktail, made with potent rice whisky and continue to Laap and Lemongrass stuffed with chicken and Herb, the signature dishes at Tamarind.
Location: Kingkitsarath Rd, Luang Prabang, Laos
Opening hour: 11.00 AM – 9.00 PM
Settled on the Mekong riverside, saffron cafe is 2 beautifully designed wooden houses offering seating on both levels of the restaurant and on a small patio to overlook the Mekong River. Owned by an American and Lao couple, the café offer a slice feel of west with delicious, strong Lao coffee. Aside of scent coffee, other offers are ranged from breakfast, sandwiches, pizza, pasta, desserts and a few local dishes. To sip a cup of aromatic coffee or grab a bite and admire the spectacular view, this cafe is a great choice.
Location: Khem Khong Road | Ban Wat Nong, Luang Prabang 0600, Laos
Opening hour: Mon-Fri 7:00 am – 8:00 pm, Sat-Sun 7:30 am – 4:30 pm