Sights of Luang Prabang, Laos

This is the first of a series of posts on a 3 week trip in Laos and Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Most visitors consider Luang Prabang to be a highlight of a visit to Laos. The laid-back, smallish old colonial town with myriad temples is probably the prettiest town in the country, although I haven’t seen them all. Set on the banks of the Mekong there’s plenty of river views and opportunities for boat rides. Temple fanatics can spend loads of time here. For me, a couple of days to chill, take a boat ride on the Mekong river and a drive out to Kuang Si Falls was a good amount of time.

In-town Sights


With so many temples in town, the almsgiving tradition, where the local devotees give rice balls to the local monks, has become a tourist attraction. Out early at just after six we caught the end of the procession. Photos should be taken with discretion.

Morning Market

The morning market near the Royal Palace Museum is mostly a food market with a little bit of everything thrown in for flavor. Some vendors sell primarily tourist goods while others are clearly selling local ingredients for locals. Others are simply selling whatever they can find including rodents and local birds. There are also plenty of breakfast options if the other visuals haven’t ruined your appetite. The market was busy before 7AM. This is the time to go.

Lonely Planet Walking Tour

While generally I’m a fan of the LP walking tours, this one is short on sights, and if you have already walked from one side of town to the other, you’ve done nearly half the tour.

Phu Si Hill

We started our exploration with the climb up Phu Si. This is not much of a climb if you are in any kind of shape, and the views overlooking the town and river are worth the 10 minute ascent up a staircase through a pretty jungle setting.

National Museum

The National Museum across the street from the hill includes the Royal Palace, car collection (5 vehicles) and Wat Ho Pha Bang.

Wat Ho Pha Bang, the most striking building of the complex, houses the Phra Bang Buddha for which the town is named.

Mildly interesting, the Royal Palace’s rather plain living quarters contrast greatly with the lavish common areas, my favorite of which was the main central room with rich red walls covered in crude mosaics of ancient scenes. Particularly striking were the numerous headless figures on the right when you first enter the room.

No photographs are allowed in the museum, but Wat Xieng Thong has a similar kind of wall decoration.


We visited only a few of the wats. The town boasts more than 30 of various sizes and grandeur.

Vatmay Souvannapoumaram

Ban Xieng Muan

Wat Xieng Thong is the most popular and you can see why. It’s the largest complex with the most intricate decorations.

After visiting the wat around noon I thought the architecture deserved photographing in better morning light. Unfortunately I was not alone in that thought, with a group of devoted tourist all needing their picture taken from the window of the little shrine. By the time they finished there were only more tourists with the same idea. Still, it’s a peaceful place to snap a few in the first rays of the sun.

October 29, 2018

For links to all the posts in this series see the Laos/Cambodia page.