Located in the north of Laos, Luang Prabang is the first contact with the country for those who cross the border from the north of Thailand. This small city, which was once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lang Xang, is considered one of the most beautiful in Southeast Asia, so it is not surprising that in 1995 its careful French colonial architecture attracted the attention of UNESCO to be named as a whole World Heritage Site.
A walk through its historic center where its extensive night market is organized every day, it will be enough to immerse yourself in the authentic local culture. The colorful food stalls offer the traveler exquisite vegetables, rice and noodles. Especially in the back kitchens, where buffets abound and diners share a table.
Luang Prabang is also the main religious center of the country, so despite its small size, it is home to some of the most important Buddhist temples in Laos. You can visit Wat Sensoukaram where every morning, the ceremony of souls begins. This ritual, which attracts many tourists begins at 5 or 5.30 in the morning and go through the streets of Luang Prabang to collect the offerings of the locals. All of them carry a small basket where they will collect the food they will eat that day. Because the ceremony of souls is a sacred tradition for Buddhists, it is recommended to remain silent during your walk and, in the case of wanting to photograph the monks, not get too close to them and use the camera’s zoom.
Other prominent temples in the city include Wat Xieng Thong, considered one of the most beautiful in Asia due to the golden façade and the shape of its roofs.
Wat Mai, located at the beginning of the main street and Wat Pa Huak, whose somewhat abandoned appearance gives it a special character. In its surroundings, there are several buildings where some of the monks reside, can be seen walking and washing their clothes.
At Wat Pa Huak is where the access stairs to Mount Phu Si are located, the best point to see how the sun sets behind the mountains that surround the city. From the heights, you can get an idea of the beauty of its surroundings, the dimensions of Luang Prabang and you can see how the Mekong River and the Nam Khane surround with the beautiful landscape.
The Kuang Si waterfalls
Another of the surprises that await the traveler in Luang Prabang is its surroundings. Only 30 kilometers from the city are the most beautiful waterfalls in Laos. It is Kuang Si Waterfall, a succession of small turquoise lakes whose water descends like dominated from the top of the mountains.
The most impressive are those located at the top. However, its central part is suitable for bathing. At the entrance to the park, there is also a bear rescue centre, as well as numerous shops and restaurants where you can taste the local cuisine.
Finally, another of Luang Prabang’s natural wonders should not be missed. They are the Pak Ou Caves, a curious underground sanctuary that is visited by many Buddhist pilgrims every year to venerate the 1000 Buddha sculptures found inside.