Travel Diary,  Asia,  Destinations,  Laos

Exploring Luang Prabang and nearby

Previously: From Chiang Rai to Luang Prabang by bus and slow boat

Journal date: October 7-8, 2023

Luang Prabang: UNESCO World Heritage City

My favorite thing to do is wander around and explore a town on foot, and Luang Prabang is perfect for that. It’s tiny and cute, with a small main road that mostly has tuk tuks rather than cars.

On my first day in town, I ran into the Morning Market, saw a lot of cute store fronts and idyllic alleyways, and eventually had a local dinner of garlic chicken and rice.

Climbing Phousi Hill

The next day I got up early and tackled the famous Phousi Hill.

It’s so hot here in Luang Prabang that you have to get all your sightseeing done before 9am, or resign yourself to sweating buckets. As much as I hate waking up early, I hate sweating even more.

I got up at 5:30am and hauled ass over to Phousi Hill, a small mountain with a temple on top that local legend says was ripped from the Himalayas by the Monkey King as a gift to the LP queen.

Like most temples, to get the top you have to climb a LOT of stairs. My least favorite thing is to go up an incline, but I did it!

The topmost platform area is small, so if you want good pictures you should get there as early as you can so it’s less crowded. I had to shoot around a bunch of Japanese tourists taking selfies but I managed to get some good-ish shots of the city and the land below.

One the way down I snagged a Geocache, and inside was an adorable painted rock. I was tempted to take it with me, but I honestly don’t have the room for it…

Day trip to Kuang Si Waterfall

Waking up early meant I still had time to do loads of sightseeing, so I went on a day trip.

The hostel I was staying at did cheap transit packages out to Kuang Si Waterfall, a local multitiered waterfall with natural swimming pools.

My van didn’t get out to the falls until almost 1pm, so I recommend booking your own taxi or tuk tuk if you want to get out there earlier— it wasn’t super crowded when I went, but it would’ve been much more peaceful earlier in the morning.

Still, it was a beautiful area to visit, and only 20,000 kip / $1 USD entrance fee. (The transit was 90,000 kip / $4.32 USD return trip.)

These are unedited photos of the water. It’s famous for being more of a turquoise color, but during rainy season it gets muddy. Something to keep in mind if you’re looking for the National Geographic version on your own trip!

I recommend taking the main road up to the largest falls, then taking the forest path on the way back down. All the swimming pools are in the forest path, so you can visit the large waterfall first for selfies and then enjoy the pools on the way back.

Next: Three day at the Elephant Conservation Center in Sayaboury

More adventures from my 10 months in Asia:

Anastasia is a former librarian turned digital nomad. She's been traveling the world full time for two years and has visited 18 countries so far! Just Gone Wandering is a travel resource for solo female travelers on a backpacker's budget-- or slightly more-- and highlights amazing places to visit as well as providing tips and tricks for traveling smart and frugal. Read more...

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