The 10 Best Things to Do in Luang Prabang

Situated in the heart of northern Laos, Luang Prabang is a beautiful town that is significant for its religious importance. The golden temples and colonial-style streets create a unique setting that offers near endless opportunities for visitors. 

Luang Prabang’s timeless charm and cultural treasures make it a captivating destination for travellers seeking a unique Southeast Asian experience. With a gorgeous old town to explore, ancient temples to see and breathtaking natural beauty, a Luang Prabang vacation promises to amaze. 

If you’re unsure what to do in Luang Prabang, we’ve got plenty of ideas. In this article, we will discuss the 10 best things to do in Luang Prabang.

Things to do in Luang Prabang: Explore the Town

Luang Prabang seamlessly blends traditional Laotian architecture with French colonial influence. It’s so striking that the town has been given UNESCO World Heritage status. There is so much to experience in the town and we’ve highlighted some of the best tourist attractions that are absolute must do’s for your visit to Laos. 

Tour the Old Town

Luang Prabang was once the royal capital of Laos and this is reflected in the beautiful architecture that can be observed across the Old Town. As you wander the streets you will be enthralled by the unique mix of well crafted wooden buildings alongside colonial era structures. Tours of the town are a great way to explore the hidden gems and learn more about the fascinating culture. 

We recommend stopping into some of the museums in the Old Town to gain a better understanding of the local history. The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre provides insights into the diverse ethnic groups of Laos, their cultures and traditional crafts. Likewise, The Royal Palace Museum was the former royal residence and is open to visitors who want to explore the beautifully preserved rooms and view royal artefacts and treasures.

Climb Mount Phousi 

Mount Phousi is a prominent hill located in the heart of Luang Prabang. It’s a popular attraction known for its panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, as well as its historical and cultural significance.

The hill reaches an elevation of about 100 metres above the surrounding terrain, making it a relatively easy climb. To reach the summit, visitors can climb a series of stairs that wind their way up the hill. The staircase is well-maintained and the climb usually takes about 15-20 minutes for the average person.

At the summit, there is a small temple called Wat Chom Si, which adds to the spiritual significance of the hill. One of the primary attractions of Mount Phousi is the breathtaking panoramic view it offers of Luang Prabang and its surroundings. It’s a popular spot for both sunrise and sunset, providing stunning photo opportunities.

Wander Along the Rivers

Luang Prabang is located at the confluence of two rivers, the Mekong and the Nam Khan. These rivers were vital to the town’s development and play an important role in the daily lives of the locals. 

The Mekong River flows through Luang Prabang, providing a stunning natural backdrop to the city.

It is one of the longest rivers in the world, spanning several countries in Southeast Asia and flowing into the South China Sea. 

The rivers offer enchanting walks through Luang Prabang and are a great place for couples looking for romantic things to do. The Mekong is another great place in Luang Prabang to watch the sunset as it reflects on the water. 

For a real treat, take a sunset dinner cruise on the water. You will get the finest views of the Mekong and the chance to make your own hot pot meal.   

The Nam Khan River is a tributary of the Mekong River and flows through the eastern part of Luang Prabang. This river is narrower and more intimate than the Mekong, with lush green banks and serene riverside views. It’s an integral part of life in Luang Prabang, with riverside restaurants, guesthouses and lavish spas where you can get a relaxing massage treatment. 

Things to do in Luang Prabang: Discover the Buddhist Culture

Luang Prabang is revered for its Buddhist traditions, which have survived to present day. There is no better place in Laos to experience the traditions and temples that bring serenity to the town. If you want to connect with Laotian spirituality and learn more about the intricate practices of Buddhism, there are some great things to do in Luang Prabang. 

Go Temple Hopping

There are over 30 active temples in Luang Prabang which provide a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the local spirituality. The beautiful golden temples are tranquil spaces for reflection and religious observance, so be sure to be respectful when you visit and dress modestly with your arms and legs covered. 

One of the best temples to visit in Luang Prabang is Wat Xieng Thong, which is over 500 years old and one of the most beautiful buildings in the town. The temple is a very important religious centre that contains exquisite wood carvings and mosaics that depict the life of the Buddha as well as local folklore tales. 

To get the best experience, a guided tour of the temple is recommended as you will be able to gain more insight and context about the significance of Wait Xieng Thong. The temple is one of the best tourist attractions in Laos and is not one to miss on your trip. 

Observe the Daily Alms Ceremony

There is a unique ceremony that occurs every morning in Luang Prabang that allows visitors to connect with the local culture in a very personal way. Before sunrise, robed monks will collect alms and food donations from residents and tourists. Typical offerings include sticky rice, fruit and other food items, which provides sustenance for the monks. 

Tourists are welcome to take part in the ceremony if they wish, but should be advised to remain respectful. This is a deeply rooted ritual that shouldn’t be treated as a tourist attraction, so ensure you wear clothes covering your shoulders and knees. It is important to remain silent throughout the monk’s procession and when offering alms, be sure to kneel on the ground.

Things to do in Luang Prabang: Sample the Cuisine

There are so many eateries and restaurants around Luang Prabang that serve exceptional dishes. With its strong French influence, many cafes and bakeries offer delectable pastries and coffee as well as local diners serving traditional Laotian dishes. 

Getting stuck into the food scene is one of the best things to do in Luang Prabang and below, we list some of the best ways to experience it. 

Take a Sensory Food Tour 

A great way to immerse yourself in the rich cuisine is through a food tour of Luang Prabang. Your tour will take you on an evening tuk tuk ride which will stop at some of the best restaurants and includes unlimited beer. You will even get the chance to meet families who are working to keep Laos’ food traditions alive and sample their home cooked food. 

Experience the Night Market

The Night Market is a popular and vibrant evening market located in the heart of Luang Prabang. It is one of the city’s main attractions and offers a delightful shopping and culinary experience for visitors. ​​

The market typically opens in the late afternoon and continues until around 10:00 PM, but this can change depending on the season. You’ll find a wide range of items in the colourful stalls, including silk scarves, woven textiles, wooden carvings, paintings, pottery, and more. 

The night market also features a section dedicated to local street food and snacks. You can try traditional Lao dishes, including grilled meats, fresh fruit shakes, sticky rice and various noodle dishes.

Try a Cooking class

If you want a more hands-on experience of Luang Prabang’s food scene, consider taking a traditional cooking class. In this workshop, you will learn family recipes from locals and get a chance to make delicious dishes like Larb, a minced meat salad. After your class, you will get to take part in folk singing as well as experience a Baci ceremony, a long standing tradition that wishes participants good fortune. 

Things to do in Luang Prabang: Explore the Natural Beauty

There are some amazing experiences to be had in the area surrounding Luang Prabang that offer exciting adventures for travellers who enjoy the outdoors. With stunning natural scenery just minutes away from the town, getting out of Luang Prabang and exploring the idyllic natural wonders is one of the best things to do on your trip. 

Visit the Pak Ou Caves

The Pak Ou Caves are situated about 25 kilometres upstream from Luang Prabang  and are accessed by a scenic boat ride on the Mekong River. 

The caves hold immense religious importance for Buddhists in Laos. They serve as a repository for thousands of Buddha statues and figurines, many of which have been left as offerings by pilgrims and devotees over the centuries.

There are two main caves, Tham Ting (lower cave) and Tham Theung (upper cave). Tham Ting is open to visitors and is more accessible than Tham Theung. The lower cave is well-lit and features a large collection of Buddha statues of various sizes and styles, ranging from small figurines to life-sized sculptures.

You can explore cave chambers while observing the religious artefacts on display and soak in the spiritual atmosphere of the subterranean tunnels. We suggest you visit the caves during the dry season, from November to April, as the river conditions may impact your visit. You can opt for a full or half day tour for a more immersive experience.

Hike to Kuang Si Waterfalls

Kuang Si Waterfalls are one of the most stunning natural attractions in Laos. Located about 29 kilometres south of Luang Prabang, these waterfalls are renowned for their vivid turquoise cascades, lush tropical surroundings and pristine pools.

The main waterfall has a height of approximately 60 metres and is the most impressive of the cascades. Kuang Si Waterfalls consist of a series of tiered limestone formations that create numerous shallow and deep pools. Visitors can swim in these natural pools which provide refreshing respite on a hot day. 

Aside from the falls, Kuang Si also offers hiking trails that allow you to explore the area’s lush tropical forest, which is home to various species of flora and fauna. You also have the chance to visit Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre which is found at the entrance to the falls and provides a sanctuary for rescued Asiatic black bears.


Luang Prabang offers travellers the opportunity to explore its captivating mix of history, culture and natural wonders. From the charming Old Town with its remarkable architecture to the spiritual serenity found in its temples and the mouthwatering delights of its cuisine, Luang Prabang offers a kaleidoscope of experiences waiting to be discovered.

If you’ve found this blog useful, be sure to check out our other Asia guides for more helpful travel tips.

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About the Author

Tom Adams

Copywriter at SEO Travel. Contributor to Backpacker Boy, Travel Aisle with a background in Archaeology and Sports Writing.