How many days are needed for a Luang Prabang tour in Laos?

Luang Prabang in northern Laos is the capital of the namesake province. Nicknamed Sleeping Beauty and Heart of Laos, is a town of temples, featuring over 30 of them. Near LP, you can admire waterfalls, caves, and other wonders of nature. With so many things to see and do, you must wonder how many days you need for a Luang Prabang Tour.

Also, you would want to discover the town’s traditional Lao architecture mixed with French-colonial influences. In this article, we elaborate on what you can and should do while visiting the Heart of Laos based on the duration of your stay.

3 Days in Luang Prabang for a Tight Schedule

Three days are usually enough for covering Luang Prabang essentials at a quick pace.

Upon arrival, you may want to take a walk and acquaint yourself with the local architecture. Most Laotian structures are made of wood, while colonial buildings incorporate brick. You should visit Wat Xieng Thong, the most significant temple of Luang Prabang. This 16th-century temple served as a coronation site for Laotian monarchs until a few decades ago. Wat Xieng Thong boasts intricate mosaics, gold stenciling, and other decoration.

Wat Xieng Thong
Visit Wat Xieng Thong in Luang Prabang.

The small town sits along the Mekong River, surrounded by mountains teeming with vegetation. To fully admire the beauty of the town’s environment, climb Mount Phousi, the sacred hill of Luang Prabang, located in the downtown area.

During the second day of your Luang Prabang tour, visit 50-meter (164-foot) tall Kuang Si Waterfall. One of the most famous falls in Laos is a cascading waterfall, which you can observe while climbing to its top via a hiking path.

If you need cooling, feel free to take a bath in Kuang Si's pools, but note that the water is chilly. Use available changing facilities to change clothing. While around, pay a visit to the Moon Bear Sanctuary, too.

On the third day of your stay, schedule a few-hour tour of Pak Ou Caves, northeast of Luang Prabang. You will enjoy a boat tour along the Mekong River to access this attraction.

Pak Ou Caves
Explore Pak Ou Caves in Luang Prabang.

Consisting of two interconnected caves, Pak Ou teems with Buddha statues. Some of them are wooden, while the others are golden, and they range in size from very small to ones matching an average person's height. Bronze, ceramic, and animal horns are some materials authors used to create those Buddha images.

Before leaving LP, do some shopping at Night Market in the downtown. There, browse goods offered by members of local tribes inhabiting the surrounding hills.

4 Days in Luang Prabang to Hit the Main Sights

A four-day Luang Prabang tour allows you higher flexibility and leisure. Instead of running from one point of interest to another, travelers have enough time to tour the attractions at a relaxed pace. Moreover, building up the itinerary with additional tourist attractions is another benefit.

During your stay in the Heart of Laos, visit all tourist points of interest mentioned in the three-day itinerary. One extra place you may consider including in the tour is the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Center (TAEC).

The center offers a glimpse into the way of life and customs of local and other Laotian ethnic groups. A wide variety of exhibits introduces religious practices, everyday life, fashion, and more. When browsing stalls of the Night Market, you may find goods similar to the museum's showpieces.

Tad Sae Waterfall would be another worthy addition to your Laos and Luang Prabang trip from August to November. This seasonal attraction depends pretty much on rainfall, which is abundant from late summer to late autumn. During this period, water flows over Tad Sae's cascades, creating a symphony of sounds.

Kuang Si Waterfall
Tour Kuang Si Waterfall in Luang Prabang.

More so, pools are easily accessible, making for enjoyable swimming. Try to fit a visit to this waterfall during workdays to avoid crowds.

Wat Xieng Mouane is a temple you may include in your plans during a four-day stay in LP. It features elaborate ornamentation, including carvings and paintings. Buddha portraits are also the highlight of the temple.

5 Days to Discover Luang Prabang to the Fullest

To experience Luang Prabang and its surroundings to the fullest, plan to spend at least five days in this destination in northern Laos. That way, you won't miss anything Sleeping Beauty has to offer.

Royal Palace, Xieng Thong Temple, Kuang Si Waterfalls, and Pak Ou Caves are mandatory stops for every LP itinerary. Besides these attractions, you can visit a majority of temples in the town and have an excursion to its outskirts. What's more, all of this you can achieve in a relaxed manner.

Green Jungle Park
Enjoy the wonderful Green Jungle Park Expedition in Luang Prabang.

Take a full day for a self-guided tour of the Heart of Laos and take a peek at its temples. Alternatively, rent a bicycle or tuk-tuk and go to rice fields in the vicinity of the settlement. Furthermore, you can visit Green Jungle Park, some 30km/19mi away, to zipline and see rescued elephants.

Fans of crafts should go to Ban Phanom, a nearby weaving village. There, you can purchase goods for a lower price than at the Night Market. Besides, take some time to watch skillful ladies weaving elaborate patterns on silk, cotton, and other textiles.

Finally, spend some time in Pha Tad Ke, the very first botanical garden in Laos.

A Week in Luang Prabang for an Extra Exploration

The one-week trip allows you to further explore Sleeping Beauty and some highlights of North Laos. You are advised to stay 3-4 days for the most-visited attractions in Luang Prabang, and spend the rest of the time heading to Plains of Jars, Nong Khiaw, Muang Ngoy, or Chompet.

Located near Phonsavan, Plains of Jars is an archeological locality teeming with stone jars, where you can spend a whole day to explore.

Plain of Jars
Spend a day to explore the marvelous Plain of Jars near Luang Prabang.

Nong Khiaw, often dubbed as the most beautiful place in Laos, is a paradise for hikers. For both destinations, you should plan two days.

Near Nong Khiaw, Muang Ngoy offers various leisure activities, such as sunbathing by the river, boating, and caving, which may take you another day.

If you don't wish to leave Sleeping Beauty for long, cross the Mekong River for a one-day Chompet District tour. Despite the close proximity to the LP, Chompet is a world in itself. The highlight of this low-key district is Wat Chompet, which offers views of the UNESCO World Heritage town.

Insider Tips for a Luang Prabang Tour

Arrive early for the most visited attractions - Most popular tourist attractions of the capital of Luang Prabang province get crowded pretty quickly. For the best experience during your tour, try to visit your shortlisted favorites early.
The sunrise of Mount Phou Si is very early - If you are an early riser, you will benefit from dreamy sunrises over the Heart of Laos. Phousi Hill opens at 5:30 am and closes after sunset, allowing you to have a great time at daybreak and sundown.
Go to La Pistoche Pool & Restaurant to cool yourself - During the dry season, which runs approximately from November to May, it gets pretty hot in the former capital of the Lang Xang Kingdom. To cool yourself, pay a visit to La Pistoche Pool & Bar. Besides cooling, you can enjoy the specialties of Asian and Western cuisines there.
LP International Airport is close to the city - The local airport (LPQ) is near the settlement. For several USD, you can get from the airport to Luang Prabang and vice versa in less than 20 minutes. Tuk-tuks, which depart just outside the airport's premises, cost less, but you need to negotiate the fare.

Summary

Besides Luang Prabang, during a Laos tour, some other destinations you should visit are Vientiane, the nation's capital, and Vang Vieng. Vientiane is an easy-going city featuring some recognizable landmarks, such as Phat That Luang and Patuxay Monument - a Lao version of Triumphal Arch. Located in the area of outstanding natural beauty, Vang Vieng is famous for numerous outdoor activities, including kayaking, mountaineering, and caving.

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