Luang Prabang, the provincial capital of north Laos, is set on the bank side of the upper reaches of the Mekong River and surrounded by beautiful forest covered limestone mountains.
The city is renowned for its unique combination of beautiful temples and historical French colonial architecture. Luang Prabang was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. This has, thankfully, restrained the pace of development.
Cycle around town – Most hotels have bicycles that guests can borrow. This is the best way to explore the town.
National Museum – The surprisingly good National Museum is located in what was the Royal Palace of the King of Luang Prabang. Built in a style inspired by both French and temple architecture and home to the 14th century Buddha image ‘Pha Bang’ – from which Luang Prabang derives its name.
Watch the sunset from Phou Si Stupa – Also known as Wat That Chomsi, this golden stupa is located at the top of Phou Si, a small hill in the centre of Luang Prabang that is forested with frangipani and hibiscus. Excellent views across the town and a beautiful place to watch the sunset over the distant mountains.
Night Market – A relaxed experience compared with those found in larger Asian cities. The main Sisavangvong Road is closed at 5pm each night and rows of stalls are erectly selling local textiles and Lao handicrafts.
Morning Alms Giving Ceremony – Get up early (6am) to witness the paraded of 200 or more monks walking along streets lined with people who offer food and pay their respects. This is a beautiful religious ceremony that is still an important aspect of Laos life.
Kuang Si and Tad Se Waterfalls – These are the largest and most dramatic waterfalls in the region. Located about 15 kilometers south of the city. Also home to the Bear Rescue Centre (four-legged animal type!).
Boat Trip on The Mekong to Tam Ting – Take a long boat for a 2-hour trip 25 km upstream to the caves at Tam Ting – a shrine filled with 2500 Buddha images.
Gay Scene – None that we are aware of. A popular gay bar (Blue Ice) that opened many years ago closed in 2011. Gay travellers receive exactly the same welcome as anyone else in hotels, restaurants and cafés.
If you want to hook up with a local, then use a dating site in advance. When we checked, there were not many local guys on Grindr.
Getting to Luang Prabang – Daily flights from Bangkok with Bangkok Airways and Thai Air Asia. Lao Airlines operates services to Vientiane, Chiang Mai and Hanoi. Vietnam Airlines operate a daily services from Hanoi.
Airport transfers – There is a well-organised taxi service at the airport. Expect to pay about $10US to most destinations in the town.
Getting around Luang Prabang – Walking, cycling or tuk-tuk. Expect to pay around 40 baht per person in a tuk-tuk for any trip in the town.
Visas – Available on arrival for most travellers. The visa fee depends on nationality but is typically US$35 plus a $1 processing fee (take US$ cash with you). ASEAN nationals do not need a visa for stays up to 30 days.
Weather – Even in the middle of summer, the early mornings and late evenings can be cool. Bring a light jacket or similar. The sun is very strong during the day, so don’t forget sunblock lotion and a hat.
Money – Kip, but the Thai Baht is accepted everywhere. If you pay in Thai Baht then change will be given in Kip. If you are travelling from Bangkok, bring Thai Baht plus US dollars for the visa fee. No need to buy Kip in advance.
How Long to Stay – We suggest two nights/three days.
What to Wear – Remember that you will be visiting temples and other historical sites. T-shirts and shorts are ok but tank tops would not be considered respectful.
Eating and Drinking – There is a great choice of good quality restaurants and cafés in Luang Prabang offering a wide variety of both Asian and European food and drinks (most also offer free Wi-Fi). Drink bottled water.
big discounts – best prices guaranteed
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Luang Prabang has a surprisingly good choice of hotels, from budget guesthouses to 5-star resorts.
We think that it’s a good idea to be within walking distance of the old town centre. This gives you freedom to explore this historic town at your own pace, either on foot or on a cycle.
Below are our suggestions or click here to search all Luang Prabang hotels.
based on 83 Agoda reviews
Why this hotel? Central location. Superb dining. Beautiful surroundings. Free WiFi.
Sofitel Luang Prabang is located in what was the former city jail, now converted into a stylish resort retaining both the high boundary walls, watch towers and cell blocks.
The cells are now luxurious guest rooms, all of which have their own private garden. We love the super-high ceilings, huge showers and bath tubs and exceptionally comfortable beds. Excellent high-speed WiFi is available in your room, your garden and the public areas.
The hotel is comfortably within walking distance of Sisavangvong Road – the heart of Luang Prabang. There are a number of cycles that you can borrow to explore the city.
based on 454 Agoda reviews
Why this hotel? On Mekong River. Great value. Popular choice. Free WiFi.
The BellRive enjoys a fabulous riverfront location along the Mekong River, a 5-minute drive to the Night Market and National Museum, and within 5 minutes’ walk to a local dining options.
Guest rooms are simply decorated and comfortable, each with air conditioning, safe, minibar, private bathroom and free WiFi throughout.
The in-house restaurant serves both local and Western food. The hotel’s great location, value for money and gay-friendly staff make it a popular choice on Travel Gay Asia.
based on 427 Agoda reviews
74% off on Agoda
Why this hotel? Very central. Great for sightseeing. Boutique option. Free WiFi.
One of our favourite hotels in Luang Prabang. The Victoria Xiengthong, a former royal palace, offers stylish rooms near the banks of Mekong River and Wat Xieng Thong Buddhist temple.
Guest rooms feature elegant Laotian-styled décor, with free WiFi, iPhone docks, sitting areas and minibars. The suites include a separate sitting room and a private terrace with a plunge pool.
This boutique resort has its own bar & restaurant that overlooks the river, a swimming pool with garden and a spa offering massages & body treatments.
based on 316 Agoda reviews
69% off on Agoda
Why this hotel? Riverside location. Close to Night Market. Gay-owned. Free WiFi.
The gay-owned Villa Deux Rivières is located on the bank of the Nam Khan River (a tributory that feeds into the Mekong river about 400 metres away)
The hotel is about a 15-minute walk from the Night Market and main street restaurants and cafés. There are 17 comfortable rooms within low-rise buildings set around a small garden.
The rooms are decorated in traditional Laotian style – all with air conditioning, minibar, safe, LCD TV and free WiFi. Bicycle rental available.
based on 365 Agoda reviews
69% off on Agoda
Why this hotel? Great location. Near the Old Town & Night Market. Free WiFi.
The main building of this resort was built in 1938 by the grandson of a Laotian king, Kham Souk Zakarine. Today, Villa Maly is beautiful hotel with 33 classic French-styled rooms, set in mature gardens around a pool & sun terrace.
The hotel is located in a quiet street, just a 10-minute walk from the Night Market, shops and restaurants along the main street in Old Town.
Most of the main historical sights are also within walking distance. Friendly service and good value for money.
8.4 Excellent, based on 469 Agoda reviews. Includes breakfast. Was $118 USD. Now $66 USD | click here
8.3 Excellent, based on 264 Agoda reviews. Includes breakfast. Was $500 USD. Now $104 USD | click here
based on 941 Agoda reviews
34% off on Agoda
Why this hotel? Budget choice. Free shuttle service. Great location. Free WiFi.
My Dream is an excellent boutique budget option, located by the Nam Khan River, less than 1 km from Wat Phol Phao temple, about 2 km from Dara Market and 3 km from the airport.
The cosy bungalows & villas have plenty of natural light, all with free WiFi, cable TV, safe, minibar, tea & coffee maker and a balcony. Free breakfast buffet included.
The resort features an open-air restaurant, outdoor swimming pool and massage service. Free airport shuttle service is provided. A tour desk and bicycle rental available.