For many of our clients touring SE Asia, the common feedback is that Luang Prabang in Laos is often their favorite stop. Listed as a UNESCO world heritage designated city in 1995, Luang Prabang has unique and remarkably well preserved architectural, religious and cultural heritage from several centuries, including its French Colonial influences from the 19th and 20th centuries.
The compact city centre is located on a peninsula at the confluence of the Nam Khan and the Mekong rivers and is a delight for its Buddhist temples and monasteries, markets, and bohemian and hip vibe!
One of the city’s major landmarks is Mount Phou Si: a large steep hill which despite the constrained scale of the city, is 490 feet high; a steep staircase leads to Wat Chom Si shrine and an overlook of the city and the rivers.
Every town in SE Asia has Morning Markets and Night Markets. The former attracts primarily locals for food purchases and the latter is primarily for tourists to buy local handicrafts. Both are a must, of course. Below I tour and taste in the Morning Market in Luang Prabang –
Tuk Tuking around is easy throughout town and cheap – (the hotels however have their own Rolls Royce of Tuk-Tuks) –
A tour to the waterfalls is one of the most popular attractions while visiting Luang Prabang –
School girls buying a snack during recess –
Beerlao – “Beer of the Wholehearted People” – I’ll buy that!
This famous bamboo bridge is up half the year before the rains and high rivers wash it away for the raining season. It is rebuilt each year by a family who collect a small fee in order to maintain it.
Many boats line the Mekong and take guests up river for attractions and touring –
We enjoyed our private boat with our guide, captain and even a masseuse –
In Changai Village we tasted locally fermented rice whiskey –
For the brave, some come with snakes or tarantulas. I am a purist and stuck with the non-adorned version –
A visit to the holy caves of Pak Ou, where some of the most famous Buddhist sculptures in SE Asia are located –
Tonight we are invited to a private Baci ceremony in a home where the town elders welcome us and wish us luck with our travels –
The small city also has the distinction of offering three incredibly luxurious and special hotels from which to choose – The classic Belmond La Residence Pho Vao, the sleek, bright and centrally located Amantaka, and the new and quite fabulous countryside Rosewood resort. All special and all have their perks – I can help guide you to select the best option for your visit.
Belmond always has classic and unique properties. La Residence is just on the outskirts of the city center and has lovely views and a relaxing setting.
Rooms are comfortable but could stand for a slight update given competition –
As to be expected at Belmond, the food was wonderful –
Located right in the center of town, guests have an incredible oasis of serenity but walking distance to everything.
The room product at Amantaka is flawless, bright and airy –
Amantaka’s spa is worth the trip alone –
Food is carefully sourced and absolutely delicious at Amantaka! (wish I had some images of our dinner!)
A country-side resort feel located just 15 minutes (bike ride or tuk-tuk ride) outside of the city, Rosewood gives guests a resort setting with easy access to hikes and cycling and lots of space to breathe. Guests can choose from riverside suites or for those that like the idea of “glamping”, luxury canvas tents.
The main pool…
..complete with tented lounge cabanas.
Curated by world- renowned designer Bill Bensley (think Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, The Siam Bangkok, and Capella Ubud), the design throughout is fantastically inviting, yet functional eye-candy.
Tented accommodations are private and have the best views (but be prepared for a hike up!) –
Other options include rooms and suites that sit on the river that literally runs through the middle of the resort –
Several Suites have their own pools –
And private bar set up…
Some with outdoor bathing –
The river-side bar –
Laotian Hot Pot and Barbecue – its a lot of work but great fun –
One of the benefits of staying at Rosewood is the curated adventure activities – we spent the morning downhill mountain cycling from the village into the city with our resort guide –
A wonderful last day in Laos! I LOVE Luang Prabang and will definitely be back!!