“Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen we have just landed in Luang Prabang International Airport, where the local time is 1250 in the afternoon and the current outside temperature is 26 degrees Celsius ” announced the crew, as the aircraft taxied to the gate in Luang Prabang International Airport, flying through the mountains on a warm Saturday Afternoon made the one and a half hours’ flight from Bangkok a spectacular one.
Immigration and customs check upon arrival was smooth, just pay a 35$ visa fees and obtain an entry to the land of wonders.
Towards the exit of the terminal building is a small taxi counter, where you pay 8$ to get transferred to your hotel.
I stepped out of the airport with an eagerness to absorb everything that this intoxicating city had to offer.
The ride from the airport, along the streets of this laid back town, took about half an hour to get to my hostel- Kounsavan Guest House, located right in the center of the old town, close to the night market and the Phousi Hill-where you can capture the majestic shot of the sun setting on the Mekong River.
The best and the most common way of starting the day in Luang Prabang is by taking part or by rewarding your eyes with a sight of the morning alms procession locally known as Tak Bat. Tak Bat is quite popular in majority of the South East Asian countries, it’s a beautiful ritual where Buddhist monks wearing their brown or saffron dyed robes saunter through the quiet streets before the dawn, collecting offerings of sticky rice from devotees. Taking part in this ceremony is considered to be sacred and watching this is a privilege.
After the ceremony a nice breakfast in the morning market would be a perfect thing to do.
It’s great to walk around the streets of Luang Prabang, exploring different wats (Buddhist Temples), the prominent one is Wat Xienthong also known as Golden City Temple.
Wat Xienthong is one of the most visited and renowned active monasteries, built in 1560 by a Laotian King – King Settathirath. It’s built in a prime location where Nam Khan river joins Mekong River; Wat Xienthong depicts the art work of Laotian architecture, with colorful exterior and low-slung roofs.
Other wats along the street are Wat Souvannakhili, Wat Sensoukaram –popular place to watch and take part in Tak Bat.
The other major attraction along the street is The Luang Prabang National Museum also known as The Royal Museum or locally known as Haw Kham. This former Royal Palace offers an entry to visitors by charging 30,000 Kip as an entry fee and is open from 0800-1130 and 1330-1600 (the last entry should be at or before 1530), ensure to be dressed in a modest way (no sleeveless or shorts). Built in 1904, this was the main residence of King Sisavang Vong, the architectural design of the museum perfectly blends traditional Lao and French beaux arts style.
After an evening snack and a cup of famous Lao coffee in the Scandinavian Bakery, or a glass of beer in the most famous Utopia Bar, Phousi Mountain would be a terrific place to get a glimpse of the sun setting over the Mekong River. Luang Prabang’s most prominent attraction; Phousi Mountain stands 100 meters high in the middle of the old town, That Chomsi another wat where a Golden Stupa sits on the top of the mountain. After climbing 329 steps exhaustively, the real grandeur isn’t that golden spire, it is the enchanting view, which stretches beyond the beautiful mountains and Mekong river.
The north side of the mountain descends down to the night market which brings the entire street into life at dusk , making it a perfect way to end your day in Luang Prabang, this is the only place where tourists out number locals. People set tents on the street and sell various things like handicrafts, souvenirs, clothes, bags etc.
Luang Prabang has a lot more to offer; I have just touched base some of the major attractions in the city, doesn’t matter what you are looking for, Luang Prabang will offer all of that to you with an open heart.