3 Things To Do In The Port Of…Luang Prabang
One of the highlights of an Upper Mekong River cruise through Laos will be a stop in the vibrant city of Luang Prabang. Often called the ‘jewel of Indochina’, this peaceful riverfront destination has to be experienced before you can truly understand what it is all about. Serene and friendly in equal measure, it is characterised by French influences, the eye-catching orange of monks’ robes and an unmistakable warmth that welcomes you with open arms.
Here are just a few of the fantastic things to do when your ship docks.
Where Are The Wats?
In South-East Asia, temples are a part of life and Luang Prabang is home to many dedicated to the Buddhist faith. Known as ‘Wats’, they are peaceful places to learn a bit about the local culture and watch as the monks go about their business. The best-known example in the city is Wat Xieng Thong, a beautifully gilded structure that proudly displays a tree of life mosaic and a rare reclining Buddha. If you do take a visit, remember to be respectful and cover your arms and legs.
If you want a closer look at the religious traditions in Luang Prabang, consider rising early in the morning to watch an alms-giving ceremony. During this ritual, young monks visit the houses of residents to collect a donation of sticky rice (and sometimes other foods) with their heads bowed. It is an extremely important part of their meditation and the only meal they will eat that day. If you do want to witness this humbling sight, be sure to keep your distance as to not interfere with the ceremony and be conscientious when taking photos.
A Street Of Street Food
One of the best ways to get to know a foreign destination is through its food, and in Luang Prabang, there are plenty of opportunities to do this. One of the most popular spots to sample the street food is Buffet Street – a whole road of hawkers and stalls all selling their delicious offerings. You simply grab a bowl (which costs around £2) and then fill it with whatever you like from the various sellers. If you’re naturally cautious about street food, you could always stick to the veggie options, but following the crowds is usually a good way to judge the best stalls.
Just around the corner, on Sisavangvong road, you will also find the central night market. As well as more food, this is where you can barter for interesting souvenirs, clothes, jewellery and local handicrafts. Once you’ve got your food, take a seat in the communal areas and strike up a conversation.
Enjoy Nature Just Outside The City
If you have a bit more time in this zen-like city, there are some great places in the surrounding area to experience the beauty of nature. Just before the sun sets, make the climb to the top of Mount Phousi to watch it slowly drift below the horizon. There are around 300 steps in each direction, so be prepared. But the views from the top are more than enough reward for many tourists to make this journey every evening. You can look down at the Old Town or gaze off into the distance towards the misty mountains. Either way, it’s a stunning spectacle.
If your idea of beauty involves crystal clear waters and scenic, natural surroundings, why not venture 45 minutes out of Luang Prabang to see Kuang Si Falls? This cascading waterfall is a very popular sight and offers swimming holes below its 50m, three-tiered drop. For a real adventure, you can hike to the top and stand in the water to peer over the precipice (don’t worry, there’s a barrier).
If you want the chance to discover Luang Prabang for yourself, our knowledgeable team can help you plan your Mekong River cruise. Call us on 0800 954 0064 or contact us through the website.