Monks, caves, waterfalls – 5 things to do in Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang certainly is a place well worth a visit.

Read here about five things to do in Luang Prabang!

Alms procession of the monks

In the morning from 6am to about 6:20 the monks of the different Buddhist temples come to the streets to collect their alms for the day. It is nice to see the processions of the monks of the different monasteries. The collection itself is very touristy. Besides the locals a lot of tourists give alms to the monks. I advise you to give well packed things to the monks because the locals give them enough sticky rice already.

After the procession you can take a walk through the morning market nearby. Follow the crowds or ask someone. It’s easy to find and you don’t need to book a tour for that.

How to get there for your travel planning

The alms procession is in the centre of Luang Prabang near to the night market place and the street with all the restaurants.

luang prabang monks

Luang Prabang’s Phou Si (central hill)

After the alms procession and the morning market it is probably 6:40 am. Too early for breakfast! So what do to in Luang Prabang this early in the morning? I suggest you go up to the temple of the central hill (Phou Si) and enjoy the yet quiet atmosphere up there. Just walk around and have a look at all the different smiling, sleeping and praying happy Buddhas. In one corner of the temple there is even a Buddha footstep, someone recognised it in the rock and it was painted yellow, so that you can recognise it too. On the top of the hill you can take nice photos of Luang Prabang (if it’s not too foggy). So be up there for an hour, relax and then, around 8 am, go and get your breakfast.

How to get there for your travel planning

You can’t miss the hill from the alms procession place.

Temples in caves along the Mekong river: The Pak Ou Caves

There are several Buddhist temples built into caves in Asia. This one lies peacefully along the Mekong River. The good thing about this is, that you first have to get onto a boat on the Mekong River and drive up there for 1.5 hours (don’t use the street, as it is so much more relaxing on the river). You can enjoy the scenery along the river and watch the locals do their daily deeds along the river. When you arrive the first temple is easy to reach from the river. For the other one, however, you have to walk up a sometimes steep path for about 10 minutes to reach it. Both, the upper and lower temple cave, are worth a look. The lower one has been ornamented with small statues for generations whenever the people asked for an exceptionally big share of good luck for their live plans. On the way back you usually stop at a local village, but there isn’t anything special to be seen there, just the usual boring souvenirs from Chinese or Thai factories.

How to get there for your travel planning

The centre of Luang Prabang is small. Have a walk, find your favourite local travel office, and book the tour there for a few dollars. If you pay more than 20 you’re on the expensive side already.

Luang Prabang’s monastery / temple walk

Now that you’re in Luang Prabang you need to feel the highest density of temples in South East Asia by exploring them on foot. Luang Prabang old town is enclosed in a river loop and almost all the monasteries and temples are inside that loop. So just walk down the main street to the top of the loop and back on another street and make photos. The oldest monastery is called “Vat Xieng Toung”, the entry fee is around one US dollar.

It is ok to walk into the monasteries if the gate is open. Just do it slowly and watch out for people and how they react. If they don’t want you to go somewhere you will feel it. And the monks should not be approached. It is also inappropriate to ask them for a photo with you. You don’t have to do that just because some other tourists do.

How to get there for your travel planning

I recommend the night market place as starting point of the tour. Walking around might be too hot from 11 am to 3 pm.

Luang Prabang’s waterfall – Kuang Si waterfalls

It is a good place to take nice pictures of the falls, but you should also take your bathing equipment with you to have a bath in the natural pools available. Luang Prabang’s Kuang Si waterfalls are a good place to relax for a day. On the way back you can visit the bear rescue centre – home to the endangered Asiatic Black Bears.

How to get there for your travel planning

Book the tour at your favourite local travel office or rent a tuk tuk after negotiating toughly about the price (ask your guesthouse how much you should pay) or rent a motorbike and go there yourself (renting motorbikes in Laos is ridiculously expensive compared to Cambodia or Thailand)

Luang Prabang weather – Best time to visit

Like most areas in South East Asia the best time to visit Luang Prabang is from November to February, as the weather is pleasantly warm and there is not much rainfall.

From March to May the weather in Luang Prabang is very hot and humid.

From June to October it is rainy season with rain almost every day.

How many days should you spend in Luang Prabang?

To see the attractions here, one to two days is enough. Stay longer, if you have been travelling for a while and need to relax, as Luang Prabang is really perfect for this.

More photos of lovely Luang Prabang

Phou Si – City hill & temple

luang prabang hill 1

luang prabang hill 2

–> The Buddha footprint

luang prabang hill buddha footstep

luang prabang hill 3

Pak Ou:

luang prabang pak ou

Inside one of the temple areas:

luang prabang temple


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2 responses to “Monks, caves, waterfalls – 5 things to do in Luang Prabang”

  1. Sean

    The traditional Alms procession of the monks sounds absolutely fascinating as does Luang Prabang as a whole.

    1. Yep. Luang Prabang is nice. Do the sightseeing early in the morning. More peaceful that during the day when everybody else is on the move too.
      Thank you for your comment!