We had no idea what to expect from supposedly picture perfect Luang Prabang, the ancient royal capital of Laos.
We’d only heard that it’s a beautiful place from other fellow travellers who we’ve met while smoothly floating along the river Mekong on our posh boat. Everyone we met along the way kept telling us we we’re gonna love it.
After two days on the water, we finally reached our first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Laos and (as predicted by other travellers and Lonely Planet Guide) immediately fell in love with the place.
We stayed nearly at the end of the peninsula formed by the Mekong and the Nam Khan River, in a quiet part of the town and instantly made a decision to stay here for a week. If it wasn’t so expensive, we could have easily stretched our stay for another few days.
Our guest house, overlooking the river, was perfectly located. It was a great base from which to stroll the narrow streets of the truly picture perfect Luang Prabang studded with beautiful cafes, boutique shops while enjoying the French architecture surrounded by beautiful scenery.
The Picture Perfect Luang Prabang
Almost everything about Luang Prabang breathes luxury. We were shocked (in a good way) to find the streets free of rubbish and actually paved! Every hotel was adorned with beautiful flowers and greenery, something we missed in Chiang Rai.
It didn’t feel like Southeast Asia anymore, it felt like we were transported into a cosy little town somewhere in the Mediterranean.
I especially loved the brick steps leading up to the main high street with all the coffee shops and French bakeries. I wanted to explore every passage (and bakery…) on the atmospheric streets of this French influenced settlement.
Across the Bamboo Bridges
The riverside at the end of the peninsula is beautifully manicured and leads to a narrow bamboo bridge across the river to the intriguing other side of Luang Prabang.
The bridge is open only during the dry season and fascinatingly rebuilt by the locals every year after the monsoon season. A small fee of 6,000 LAK applies to cross the bridge, but don’t be put off. It’s a good fun and you can see the delicate yet strong enough construction up close.
If you fancy staying out of the town, the other side is home to a more local community, but also one of the top Italian stone baked pizza restaurants in town.
We enjoyed our evenings with cold beer at Pizza Phan Luang on a several occasions and if we stayed longer in Luang Prabang, I am sure, we would have ate our way through the entire menu. The pizzas were scrumptious and the atmosphere relaxed.
The streets, unlike the main touristy town across the river, are unpaved, but tidy. Occasional luxury can be found here as well. Beautifully furnished and (most likely) air condition hotels look very inviting in the heat.
To get back to the centre of Luang Prabang, use another bamboo bridge located further upstream. This bridge will cost you 5,000 LAK to cross and will take you right to the bottom of Chomsy Hill.
Don’t forget to admire the views as you walk across the bridge. The bridge is free to cross after 6pm, but don’t worry, the fairy lights will lead the way through the darkness.
Just before heading back to the ‘posh’ part of the town, pop into Dyen Sabai for dinner at the top of the bamboo bridge. They serve great food and the atmosphere is totally relaxed. We loved it.
Have you been to Luang Prabang? Did you find it picture perfect or not so much? Let us know in the comments below…
Going to have to study my geography to figure out where this is. Looks amazing and must be added to our bucket list!
Ha ha, Luang Prabang is in northern Laos and it’s absolutely stunning 🙂 We have a guide coming out soon that you might find helpful 🙂
What a wonderful blog! Your pictures are stunning. We’re headed to Luang Prabang at the end of June and this is making me so excited! The hotel we booked is located on “the other side” and I’m definitely not as worried about that after reading this.
Thanks so much Shelby and Rich, we really loved Lunag Prabang. It’s such a beautiful and chilled place and ‘the other side’ is lovely too so you have nothing to worry about 🙂 Enjoy your travels!
It looks so pretty and peaceful! I’ve always been fascinated by Luang Prabang and it will be one of our first stops. It looks like a great place for a long layover. ?
Your pictures are gorgeous!
Thanks so much Tina, we loved Luang Prabang. Despite it being quite expensive, we really enjoyed the chilled vibe and picturesque streets. Food scene is great here too! We loved Pizza Phan Luang across the bamboo bridge, best pizza place in town. If you have time,don’t miss the Kuang Si waterfalls just outside Luang Prabang, it’s an amazing spot for swimming in natural turquoise pools in the jungle. Enjoy! ;:)
Wow! The place looks amazing.
It is, we were very impressed with Luang Prabang 🙂