Thanks to the substantial natural beauty, Luang Prabang is an attractive destination in Laos. This place also offers a lot of interesting things to do for tourists when traveling there.
Wander bare foot around the Royal Palace Museum
The most impressive temple in town is undoubtedly the one here at the Palace, although you can only admire it from the outside. The Palace Museum itself is worthy of an hour of your time, although as it was only built in 1904 it didn’t have that feeling of awe that comes with the weight of history. The intricate brightly coloured murals in the main hall depict Laotian life through the years and are a testament to the patience and dedication typical of the Lao people.
Dine out on traditional Lao cuisine
It is surprisingly difficult to find restaurants that serve true Lao dishes, as most cater for the tourist who is used to the egg fried rice and noodles of Thailand. Having said that, the buffalo noodles at Lao Lao Garden were delicious. For a real taste of Laos, book a table at the popular Tamarind Restaurant and try some of their tasting platters. The menu is more of a food bible and tells you how to eat the dishes as well as what they all are. We loved the fried river weed and lemongrass stuffed chicken, and learnt how to ball up the staple sticky rice with our fingers. Delicious.
Enjoy a friendly Barter at the night market
There’s none of the frenzied negotiating or blatant rip-offs as seen in other night markets around the world, so this is a great introduction for first-timer hagglers. The vendors are genuinely lovely people and you can stroll through several times without the slightest bit of hassle. Souvenirs can be purchased at great prices as stall holders haven’t yet been touched by mass tourism and visitors ignorantly agreeing to ridiculous prices. Long may it last. Don’t forget to get yourself one of the iconic umbrellas or perhaps an elephant made out of a bomb from the Vietnam war.
Rude the mighty Mekong
Take a boat trip on this famous river up to the Pak Ou Caves, to the waterfalls or to visit local villages. Admire the verdant countryside of northern Laos zipping by as you sip a cold beer and munch on fried river weed, and watch fishermen hauling their nets whilst herds of buffalo graze along the shoreline. The Mekong is the life blood of Laos, especially for the rural villages along its banks which rely on it for both transportation and fishing. A boat trip is the perfect way to experience the heart of this magical land.
Learn to cook Lao style
The best cooking school in Luang Prabang unsurprisingly belongs to Tamarind, and is just a 20 minute tuk tuk ride out of town deep in the stunning countryside. The cooking pavilion overlooks a pretty lily pond and is open sided so is much cooler than in the city. The day class includes a trip to the local market for produce with your teacher, a great way to learn about (and taste!) some of the unusual ingredients. During the course you’ll be amazed at what you can cook, from jeow (spicy dipping sauce), and mok pa (fish steamed in banana leaves) to Laap (a traditional minced buffalo and herb salad) and sticky purple rice for dessert. Yum!
Chat with a monk
Whilst visiting temple complexes don’t be shy of the monks, go and have a chat if they’re not busy as many of them enjoy the opportunity to practise their English. Most males in Laos will be a monk at some point in their lives, and many rural families send their young sons to temples for a good education and better quality of life. Some remain monks all their lives, whilst others return home after a year or two.
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