Hidden things to do in Luang Prabang – How to escape tourist traps?

Discover the marvels of Luang Prabang with our detail-crafted guide. Get insider tips to avoid crowds while experiencing the local culture. From visiting ancient temples to immersing yourself in the local way of life, my comprehensive guide to the best things to do in Luang Prabang and hidden gems with a suggested itinerary guarantees an extraordinary visit to this site.

Best Things to Do in Luang Prabang & Tips to escape tourist trap

Living Land Fields

Experience being a farmer in the Living Land farm is a must-do in Luang Prabang! This helps you truly understand how the local farmer life is, and have a chance to meet and interact with friendly people. That will be the authentic travel you’re looking for. A perfect place to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Laos.

Activities in living land farm at luang prabang
Having new experience being a farmer 

The tour is very well-designed with one being able to get information about the whole process of rice farming, and being able to practice. You’ll have an incredible time experiencing how rice is made, from plowing the field with the water buffalo, to planting, to harvesting, to separating the rice from husk, to cooking. It’s a hands-on experience.

And let’s not forget about the breathtaking scenery that surrounds The Living Land Farm. Picture yourself enjoying a delicious meal overlooking stunning mountain vistas. It’s a feast for both your taste buds and your eyes!

Take part in the daily alms-giving ceremony

If you are eager to find a unique experience in Luang Prabang, don’t miss out on participating alms-giving ceremony. You should wake up early, around 5 a.m to capture this tranquil scene. Local people sit in front of their houses and donate food for monks. The time will gradually pass by as the line of monk pass. Every monk receives a modest amount of rice or food, which they carefully deposit into their container.

alms giving in Luang Prabang
Witness the most unique ceremony in Luang Prabang

This is definitely a good way to connect with the local culture and religion, and then know more about them. To understand deeply moving and beautiful religious traditions, having an informative commentary from a knowledgeable guide is not a bad idea.

Explore Laos Buffalo Dairy: A Unique Blend of Sustainability, and Community Impact

If you’re an animal lover, then you’re in for a treat. Laos Buffalo Dairy is a unique and inspiring project focusing on breeding and farming water buffalo, which are a crucial part of Lao tradition. The project is dedicated to sustainable and ethical farming practices, empowering communities and preserving the rich traditions of Lao culture.

It’s an educational and social project that offers you hands-on experiences and produces delicious dairy products, including fresh milk, yogurt, and cheese, all made from the milk of their own buffalo. So you can sample these products at the on-site cafe, which offers delicious dishes made with fresh and locally-sourced ingredients.

Buffalos dairy in Luang Prabang
Experience feeding the buffalos

The project also provides training and employment opportunities for local villagers, as well as education and support for local schools and community initiatives. Overall, it’s a must-visit destination if you are interested in responsible travel and supporting local initiatives.

Trekking or cycling to explore the city

As a traveler, you will find yourself standing in front of various ways to explore Luang Prabang, such as trekking, cycling, kayaking or rafting. To many people, trekking is a must-do in Laos travel. From the centre of Luang Prabang, you can do trekking to some remote Hmong and Khmu ethnic villages, Kuang Si waterfall, Tad Sae waterfall, Pak Ou caves, etc. Bicycling is also a common activity for enthusiastic explorers. There are some cycling day trips that allow you to go to rural villages and mountains, or the traditional craft village such as Pottery Village. Kayaking is usually added in the trekking and cycling tour. One of the most famous kayaking area in Luang Prabang is Nam Xeuang River and Nam Khan River.

Cycling in Luang Prabang
A cycling trail in Luang Prabang description

Mount Phou Si – Luang Prabang’s sacred mountain

Climbing to the top of Mount Phousi is an experience like no other, and one that is sure to become one of the most cherished memory of your visit to Luang Prabang. Reaching the top of Phousi Mountain involves climbing 328 steps, but the stunning panoramic views of this charming city and its surroundings from up there make the effort worthwhile.

Sunset on the Mount Phou Si
Stunning sunset on the Mount Phou Si (source: internet)

You’ll be able to admire the Mekong River and the lush green forest, getting a different perspective of the city. The climb itself is a fun and challenging experience, which will leave you sweating, but it’s an amazing activity to enjoy during your visit to Luang Prabang.

Helpful tip: Mount Phousi is a popular place to come for sunset and sunrise so you can visit here at that time. Besides that, you should come in the middle of the day to avoid massive.

Kuang Si Waterfall – the city’s most famous summer retreat

The Kuang Si Waterfall is a stunning natural wonder that’s surrounded by lush jungle. This peaceful oasis is the perfect place to relax, swim, and enjoy the beauty of nature. Jumping down the waterfall, taking a dip in the cool, turquoise pools and soak up the serenity of this breathtaking waterfall will create for you a lifetime experience.

Trekking in Kuangsi Waterfall Laos
Jumping down the Kuang Si waterfall

If you are someone who loves nature and exploring wildlife, then visiting a bear conservation center located inside the gate can be an amazing experience. You can learn about the abuse that Asian black bears face, which is very informative. For more adventurous travelers, hiking to the top can be a great option. From there, you can enjoy breathtaking views and even take a dip in natural pools. However, please note that the steep trails require proper footwear and are not suitable for children.

Tip to avoid tourist traps: It’s best to visit in the morning before it gets too crowded. The waterfall, located around 30 minutes outside of Luang Prabang, is a fascinating sight as people jump in and out of the emerald water. You can get there by tuk-tuk or rent a bicycle.

Experience the thrill of hand-feeding elephants

One of the truly unique experiences that should be on every traveler’s list is hand-feeding elephants in Luang Prabang. As soon as you arrive at the elephant sanctuary, you’ll be greeted by these gentle giants and have a basket of bananas and sugar cane to feed them. The elephants here are well-cared for and live in a natural habitat, and you’ll be able to observe them and learn about their behavior and social structures.

Feeding Elephant at sanctuary in Luang Prabang
Hands-on experience feeding elephant
The hand-feeding experience is not just about feeding the elephants, you can also learn about how important elephants in Laos are and what challenges they used to face. You’ll know why elephant plays as a symbol of the country’s culture and economy, and how they’ve been used for logging, trekking, and other forms of exploitation. One hand touching once opens your knowledge.

Whether you’re an animal lover, or a nature enthusiast, the hand-feeding elephants in Luang Prabang is a highlight you won’t want to miss.

Royal Palace Museum

If you have limited time in Luang Prabang, you should pay visit to Royal Palace Museum, where you can grab a lot of knowledge about history and culture of the city. The museum is in a spacious garden on one of the main boulevards of Luang Prabang Laos. This complex used to be the residence of the king with a French colonial style design. The palace was transformed into museum and opened to public since 1995 when the Communist came to power in 1975. Coming here, you will have chance to see the royal house of the king in the pass, which of course was well maintained and renovated. Besides, you can also visit an area of exhibition that shows the royal religious objects, weapons, statues, paintings from the history of Laos.

Royal Palace museum
Royal Palace museum – a view from outside

Wat Xieng Thong

Additionally, you should put Wat Xieng Thong in your list of temples in Luang Prabang. Also known as “Golden Tree Monastery”, this site is said to be a great work and represents Luang Prabang’s Buddhist Temples. This site witnessed the coronation of Laos King. Hence it became very significant and famous to both domestic and foreign travelers within Laos tours.

Wat Xieng Thong
Unique architecture of Wat Xieng Thong

Pak Ou Cave – A highlight of Luang Prabang Laos

The Pak Ou caves are located 25 kilometers west of Luang Prabang. What makes these caves unique is that they contain thousands of Buddha statues. The statues are placed inside the rocky cliff, with their faces overlooking the Mekong River. That’s not all – the cave is actually divided into two sections: the lower cave aka Tham Ting, which is closer to the water level, and the upper cave aka Tham Theung, which you can reach by hiking up several stone stairs. It’s definitely a must-visit destination if you’re ever in the area!

Status at Pak Ou Cave
1,000 Buddhas sounds like a lot until you realize they are very small

How to get there?

Getting a boat cruise on Mekong River to Pak Ou Caves is probably the most desirable and charming way for a major number of travelers. Pak Ou caves is originally a spiritual as well as worth visiting; it is nowadays getting very touristy. Almost all tours depart for Pak Ou in the morning, so the best time to visit Pak Ou is in the afternoon. If you can book a boat trip in the late afternoon, you can witness a stunning sunset on the Mekong River on the way coming back.

If you’re planning to explore the enchanting wonders of Luang Prabang, don’t miss out on the awe-inspiring Pak Ou Cave – be sure to check out our comprehensive travel guide to Pak Ou Cave for an immersive experience like no other!

Take cooking class

I highly recommend taking a cooking class during your time in Luang Prabang. You can discover the secrets of Lao cuisine, guided by skilled local chefs who will teach you about essential ingredients and techniques. As you chop, stir, and savor each dish, you will experience the unique flavors of traditional Lao cooking and develop your culinary skills. This experience not only hones your cooking techniques but also offers a profound connection to the local culture. Join cooking class to explore Laos cuisine

Visit the Traditional Ethnology Centre

The Traditional Ethnology Centre is a fascinating museum dedicated to the study and preservation of Lao ethnic culture and traditions. Here, you can explore the unique cultures and lives of Laos’ ethnic groups and obtain a better grasp of the country’s rich history.

You can explore the vibrant ethnic cultures of Laos and be amazed by the diversity and colorful displays within the museum. You’ll see the traditional textiles, musical instruments, and cultural artifacts. After getting around the museum, you will get an overview of the rich and diverse culture of Laos.

Displays in tradition ethnology centre at Luang Prabang
Explore the culture of Laos at Tradition ethnology centre

The center is located outside of Luang Prabang, and they also run some tours and available for visitors. It’s defenitely worth a visit to learn about the history and culture of Laos and connect with the local people.

Note: The museum is closed on Mondays. Make sure to plan accordingly if you want to visit the Traditional Ethnology Centre.

Luang Prabang Night Market – where to go for vibrant nightlife of Luang Prabang

Visiting the Night Market in Luang Prabang gives you a another perspective on this laid-back city. It is a vivid and bustling location that genuinely embodies the character of the town. This market is situated in the city center so you easily get there.  It is open every evening at 6 p.m, so you can spend an evening at this ideal spot from watching its colorful kiosks, vibrant ambiance, and handcrafted crafts, textiles, to try some street food. Purchasing a memento is a great way to remember your incredible experience.

luang prabang night market
The vibrant atmosphere at night market

Tip: Don’t forget to try the main attraction is the mouthwatering yet reasonable street food like glutinous sticky rice served in bamboo baskets with spicy jeow, spring rolls and baked goods, fried mushrooms and seaweed, and local drinks such as Lao Lao whiskey and Beer Lao.

How to get there?

If you want to get to Luang Prabang from Vientiane, you get three ways to travel: by road, by train or by internal flight. So there is no direct boat service available between the two cities. The main reason is that the Nam Ou River, which connects these, is not navigable for the entire distance.

Flight: The quickest and most convenient way to travel between Vientiane and Luang Prabang is by air. There are multiple daily flights operated by Lao Airlines and other regional carriers. The flight duration is approximately 1 hour.

Bus: Taking a bus is a popular and affordable option for traveling between Vientiane and Luang Prabang. The journey by bus typically takes around 6 hours.

Train: Travel time by train from Vientiane to Luang Prabang is about 2-3 hours and train tickets cost about $26-38/pp, but is almost twice the price.

Private Car or Taxi: If you prefer a more personalized and flexible journey, you can hire a private car or taxi to travel from Vientiane to Luang Prabang. This option provides the convenience of door-to-door transportation and allows you to set your own schedule. You can negotiate the price with local taxi drivers or arrange a private car hire through travel agencies or online platforms.

How many days in Luang Prabang?

The number of days to spend in Luang Prabang depends on your personal preferences and the activities you wish to undertake. Advisably, you should spend at least from 2 to 3 days in order to have enough time exploring this ancient and tranquil city. I am sure Luang Prabang will treat you well.

Recommended itinerary

If you are ready to embark on an extraordinary exploration of Luang Prabang, here is our suggested crafted 3-day itinerary:

Time Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
MorningArrival in Luang PrabangWake up early and watch the monks collecting the alms.

Cruise up the Mekong River to Pak Ou Caves
Visit National Museum
Continue on foot to Wat Mai, and Wat Sensoukarahm.

End this morning’s tour a Wat Xieng Thong.
Experience being a farmer in the Living Land farm.

Enjoy the beauty of nature at Kuang Si waterfall.

Hand-feeding elephants at Elephant Sanctuary.
AfternoonStrolling around the townTraditional Arts & Ethnology CentreClimb up to the top of Mount Phousi and enjoy the sunset over the town
EveningTaking the option of a two-hour traditional Laos massageWatch a performance at the Royal Ballet TheatreSavour street food at the night market
Luang Prabang 3 days itinerary

Some suggested itineraries for Luang Prabang tours:

>>> Luang Prabang Marvelous Day Tour

>>> The Spirit Of Luang Prabang 5 Days

>>> Luang Prabang Heritage Exposure 4 Days

Explore the treasure trove of experiences, culture, and natural beauty that Luang Prabang has to offer. The information provided above will guide you through discovering the rich history and culture of Laos, as well as provide hands-on experiences for nature lovers. I believe that every moment spent in this enchanting city will leave you captivated.

If you want to explore Luang Prabang authentically with a customized itinerary that only fits your preferences, get in touch with us by filling out the form below. Once you drop us a request, we will send you a details itinerary and quote for your own.


    Trang Nguyen – IV Travel Specialist

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