Lives in Luang Prabang, Laos
Since Mar 2014
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Bridges, Points of Interest & Landmarks
Nature & Wildlife Areas
Sacred & Religious Sites, Caverns & Caves
Mount Phousi is right in the middle of central Old Town. Stairs lead all the way up the hill, winding through lush tropical palms, ferns, and flowering bushes. The 120-year old Wat Chom Si sits at the top and represents a spiritual beacon for the town. The lookout point at the top gives expansive views of Luang Prabang, the Mekong, and Nam Khan and the surrounding countryside. There are two ways to ascend: the first access is on Sakkharin Road, opposite the Grand Palace; the second set of stairs can be accessed from the road along Nam Khan. This is a great place to hang out, contemplate your travels, and catch the sunset.
This is definitely one of the must-sees in Luang Prabang, and a wonderful way to experience the natural beauty of northern Laos. Kuang Si is 30km (19 miles) south of Luang Prabang and it takes about 30-40 minutes to get there depending on if you go via tuk tuk, van, motorcycle, or bicycle. You will pass small villages and rice paddies before arriving at Ban Tha Pan, the village at the base of the falls. The drive is beautiful in itself! As for Kuang Si, it is a series of cascading waterfalls that plunge down 60 plus meters (120 feet) and at the bottom are pools and swimming holes in various shades of turquoise and aquamarine. It's great for swimming and there are plenty of trails and hikes near the base and to the top. The trails are marked, and it's a moderate walk uphill, but whether you remain at the base or hike to the top, the views will not disappoint!
So, you want to be a rice farmer? The Living Land Company's rice experience is a perfect way to try your hand at planting, harvesting, and milling rice. The guides do an incredible job showing you the various techniques, but be prepared to get muddy and break a sweat! The Living Land Company is an organic farm and a fully-operational community enterprise. Many local restaurants get their greens and vegetables from here. The tour, the rice experience, and the lunch are all excellent! And, you will see expansive views of rice paddies and the countryside!
If you are feeling adventurous, then this is for you! A true outdoors experience that is one of my favorites. From Luang Pragang, Chomphet District is directly across the Mekong River and you can take the ferry from That Heua Long, the main boat landing, across the river to Ban Xieng Mane, a traditional Lao village that is a quick boat ride, but seems worlds apart from Luang Prabang. Begin the hike at the trail, which starts on the north side of the village and follows the Mekong shoreline. The dirt trail will take you to the old Wat Chompet, Wat Long Khoune, and Wat Tam Sacckalin. At Wat Tam Sacckalin, you can pay a small fee to get entrance to a cave. At this point, you have the option to go 'off the track' and make a loop back into town, or have your boat driver meet you at one of the landings and ferry you back. About 3km to 10km, depending on how far you wish to go.
The Bamboo Bridge is both a destination and a gateway. Two bridges are built every dry season to allow pedestrians to cross the Nam Khan. The Bamboo Bridge generally refers to the one in the middle of the peninsula, close to the entrance of Mt. Phousi. Walk across and marvel at the clever engineering. Across the way, there is a beach, where you can potter around and collect shells, or play football with locals in the evenings. A swim is also possible, although the water is cool! Alternatively, you can cross the bridge and turn right, and walk north to the Old Bridge to cross back into town, or turn left and walk all the way to Ban Xang Khong, the paper village, where you can see 'sa paper' (traditional Lao paper) being made, and plenty of weaving. All in all, a great way to spend some time outdoors!
Tad Sae is most spectacular between July and October, when the monsoon rains replenish the waters at the top and base of the falls. However, Tad Sae has a quiet charm, and is a worthwhile outdoor excursion. Located about 12 miles south of town on the road to Vientiane, it is frequented by young Laos and local families tend to go on Sundays, when it can get crowded but no less attractive and fun. There is a small elephant riding camp and a zip line, as well as vendors selling food and snacks. The zip line is modest and short, not geared towards a thrill seeking audience. You can hike to the top of the falls, which is very scenic in the fall with rushing water, but in the dry season it is a quiet walk. No matter, the Tad Sae hike is good exercise and gives you a glimpse of local life. Local outfitters can arrange kayaking trips from here that head towards Luang Prabang. Tad Sae gets mixed reviews, but I think if you keep your expectations in check, accept that travel is all about experience and exploration, and enjoy being outside, it's worth going!
Sometimes a great outdoor experience with kids is just that — being outdoors. There are no real playgrounds in Luang Prabang, so when the folks at ABC School created one in the back yard, everyone with kids was excited! If you have young children, they will appreciate this outdoor playground, which has fun, creative play structures for ages 1-10 years. Parents can enjoy a break and chill on one of the shady benches.
Lepidoptera lovers aren't the only ones who will appreciate this butterfly sanctuary. Started by a Dutch couple, the Butterfly Park is an idyllic place for butterflies and anyone who appreciates them. You will learn about the species found in Lao, as well as the conservation efforts to protect butterflies. It's an engaging way to spend a few hours.
For a fantastic day trip on the river, head to Pak Ou Caves. Located about two to three hours up river (really depends on your boat driver), the caves slowly reveal themselves among the spectacular karst cliffs. Thousands of Buddhas are enshrined here, and walking through the complex is fascinating. The boat ride itself is serene and scenic. The slow pace allows you to check out the natural surroundings and see daily life unfold along the river banks.