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Luang Prabang

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Revision as of 14:02, 3 January 2011

Haw Kam, Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang, also Luang Phabang, Luang Phrabang and Louang Phrabang is the former capital of Laos and a UNESCO World Heritage city.


The main road, Xiang Thong, of Luang Prabang is a wonderful patchwork of traditional Lao wooden houses and hints of European architecture - reminders of when Laos was part of the French colony of Indochine. Golden-roofed wats (temples), decorated with mosaics and murals of the life of Buddha sit under the gaze of wrap-around balconies and 19th century shuttered windows.

As a visitor, you cannot help but be amazed by the tidiness and cleanliness of perhaps the most charming city in all of south-east Asia. With UNESCO so closely involved and a largely highly responsible group of local business owners, the pressures of mass tourism development have been held at bay, but for how much longer remains to be seen.

Get in

By plane

Luang Prabang International Airport

The airport is just north of town and has scheduled flights from/to Vientiane, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hanoi and Siem Reap.

Visa-on-Arrival is available at the airport - price is variable based upon your nationality. You need a passport picture to obtain a visa. If you don't have one, they'll scan your picture from your passport and charge you an additional $US1.

ASEAN nationals do not need a Visa to enter Laos for stays not exceeding 30 days.

Taxis into town cost about $US6, whether you are by yourself or with 3 other people. There is a taxi counter just outside the arrival hall.

By road

Highway 13 connects Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng and Vientiane in the south and via Highway 1 to the north. Highway 13 is sealed and in good shape all the way to Vientiane. Though there have been incidents of violence along this stretch of road in the past, presently it is safe.

There are three bus stations, each a little bit out of town, which serve different directions. Tickets can be bought at every travel agent in town, at the bus station, or when boarding the bus (if there's space). Booking bus tickets through travel agents usually incurs hefty surcharges compared to doing it yourself. Just plan to arrive at the bus station between 30-45 minutes before your departure, and you should have plenty of time to make your purchases before you bus leaves. Tuk-tuk drivers know which bus station to go to for which destination. Ask around for bus schedules.

  • Vang Vieng - The air-conditioned so-called VIP bus costs 90,000 kip. Mini-buses leave from Vang Vieng at 9 AM and cost 100,000 kip. The trip takes 6-7 hours (on a VERY windy road). The mini-bus station is just north of town.
  • Vientiane - Air-con VIP bus costs 115,000, more if booked through an agent. It should be noted that tickets purchased in Vientiane to Luang Prabang are more expensive than those purchased in Luang Prabang. Travelers have reported that the VIP bus can been a bit of bumpy ride, but is generally more reliable than the public bus. Those prone to motion sickness should know that this trip travels a winding, mountainous road.
  • Muang Xay - Takes about 5 hours. Costs 40,000 kip and points onwards, such as Luang Namtha, is done by public minibus only. Big backpacks are carried on the roof. Reservations are usually not necessary, just take care to go early in order to secure a good seat.
  • Luang Namtha - Takes 8-9 hours. Parts of the road leading from Oudomxay (intermediate stop between Luang Prabang and Luang Namtha) are still under construction and are quite bumpy (as of Nov 09). Direct local bus via Muang Xay at 09.00. Otherwise take bus to Muang Xay and switch there.
  • Nong Khiaw - 3 hours away by public bus from the Northern Bus Station or 8-10 hrs by boat for about 110,000 kip. From there boats connect to scenic Muang Ngoi Neua.
  • Huay Xai - Up to 15 hours away. Public buses leave at 09.00 (arrive 12 midnight) or 17.00 (arrive 08.00, normal sleeping bus, not sleeper). Costs 135,000 kip. VIP buses leave on alternating days, tickets purchased at the Northern Bus Station will cost 35,000 kip less than those purchased at an agent in town.
  • Phonsavan - Bus takes about 8 hours and costs 100,000 Kip leaves Southern Bus Station around 8.00am. Minibus takes around 6 hours and leaves at 9.00am. You should be able to buy your ticket at your guesthouse and arrange to be picked up and taken to the minibus station. You can stay on the minibus until it unloads the local people in the centre of Luang Prabang though tuk-tuk drivers may try to make you get off earlier at the bus station.

By boat

Boats ply the Mekong to and from Huay Xai at the Thai border, stopping in Pakbeng where you can catch overland connections towards the northeast and the border with China. The trip takes 2 days (both days about 9 hours) by slow boat, or 6 bone-rattling hours by speedboat. There are also operators now offering 2-day "luxury" cruises.

If you have the opportunity, purchase a pillow from a local market before embarking on any boat ride that lasts longer than 2 hours. Expect to spend the night in Pakbeng if you're taking a slow boat (the safest option), or to arrive in Luang Prabang deaf, shaken and either exhausted or exhilarated from six hours in a speedboat. There is also a twice-weekly "one day comfortable boat" between Luang Prabang and Huay Xai, but the cost is significantly higher.

Slow boats leave every day, usually around 8-9AM. The trip to Luang Prabang costs 200,000 kip (July. 2010). If you can, just purchase your tickets at the boat landing because all the tour agencies in town charge a commission, and agents usually don't have reliable information about the quality of the boats. It is not uncommon to have to switch to a new boat in Pakbeng, so you may end up in a boat of higher or lower quality for the second half of the journey.

The slow-boat is generally packed - so much so that there may not enough seats to go round. Arriving early will mean a longer day, but most likely a better seat, towards the front and away from the engine. Earplugs are recommended, regardless of where you end up sitting. Travelers report that those who show up better-dressed may end up with better seats.

The slow boat trip proceeds in a pleasant 20-30km/h and offers nice views to the nature and village life on the banks of the Mekong river. Most of the passengers are foreign tourists. Occasional locals take the boat only for short hops between the river side villages, but prefer to take the bus for the full distance from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang. So you won't be able to observe any local boat travelers, as the boat ride offers just the usual sight of tourists drinking Beerlao.

If you choose to travel on the speedboat (a light canoe with a very powerful engine), a crash helmet and life-jacket should be provided - it is not recommended to travel in a speedboat without this essential safety equipment. It is also recommended that you make your bags as waterproof/water-resistant as possible and wear a rainjacket - the boat can generate quite a bit of spray, plus any small showers you might encounter along the way will sting like needles against any exposed skin. On sunny days, sunscreen is invaluable as there is no roof/shade on these speed machines. The journey to Huay Xai can be reduced to as few as 4 hours in the wet season, with a lunch stop at Pakbeng. However, some consider this means of transportation less safe, especially in the dry season. Earplugs are strongly recommended. Travelers who are concerned about creating as little environmental impact as possible may want avoid speedboats, as they are heavier polluters than the slower options. Travel agents in LP will sell the tickets for 320-370,000 Kip, you will need a minivan to take you the 10km north to the fast boat pier.

The third option is to take a "luxury" cruise. The major operators are Luang Say [7] and Nagi of Mekong [8]. As of 2009, both operate two-day cruises to Hauy Xai that stop in Pak Beng for the night. Although the journey takes as long as taking the slow boat, both operators offer vastly superior facilities and equipment than public slow boats, and you should be prepared to pay a premium for it.

There is no public boat service to Vientiane, but it may be possible to do the trip by private tourist boat when the water levels are high enough. Read more about fast and slow boats in the Laos country guide.


Monks receiving morning alms
  • Alms ceremony — Monks at dawn collecting alms of rice from kneeling villagers (and early-rising tourists). Ask your guesthouse host to assist you the day before in preparing if you'd like to get up and give alms in the morning. Please note that the alms giving ceremony is one which, while picturesque, is not without its detractors. Unscrupulous local merchants have used the eagerness of tourists to participate in a local tradition as a means of making easy money, and sometimes sell unsuitable, stale and even unsafe food. This has resulted in monks falling ill after having consumed the offerings, and resistance to continuing the tradition. However, the government has made it clear that the monks have to continue the tourist pageant or risk being replaced with lay people clothed in saffron robes in order to keep up appearances and thereby keep the tourist dollars rolling in. So if you wish to participate in this ceremony, prepare the food or fruit yourself, and avoid giving food of unknown quality. Strongly consider only watching this old tradition from a distance instead of using it as a tourist attraction, as this may detract from the beauty of the ritual - both for locals and tourists alike.
  • Bear Rescue Center — Located adjacent to the way to the Kuang Si Waterfalls, the Bear Rescue Center has a enclosure for endangered Asiatic Black Bears that have been rescued from poachers. There was also an Indo-Chinese tiger, but sadly, the tiger had passed away as of May 2009.
  • Haw Kham — The former royal palace. There's also sometimes local drama or dance performances in the adjacent theatre. Presently under renovation so closed to public review. Also Haw Kham visitation has specific opening and closing hours, with lunch break closure from 11.30AM to 1.30p. It is important to check the timings and plan the visit accordingly.
Kuang Si Falls, Luang Prabang
  • Kuang Si Falls — 29 km south of Luang Prabang. A large multi-stage waterfall, accessible by boat or truck hire. You can also rent a motorbike to transport yourself there. There are food and tourist stalls outside the waterfalls. It is worth putting a whole day aside (or more) for seeing these because they are a great place to relax and meet other travelers. There are multiple pools at different levels, all of which are reportedly safe to bathe in, and are extremely picturesque.
  • Night market — The night market features vendors selling all the typical Lao arts and crafts, some more touristy than others, and is set up every day along the main street parallel to the river. Be warned that it closes down around 9PM, unlike the similar markets in Thailand that go on well into the early hours. Please note that there may be some souvenirs available made from endangered animals. Avoid buying rare pets, leather, ivory, talons, dried sea creatures (starfish, etc.), fur, feathers, teeth, wool, and other products. This is the best place to buy lower end souvenirs and hone your bargaining skills.
  • Pak Ou Caves — The famous "Buddha caves" are north of town on the Mekong and can be reached by road (approx 1 hr) or river boat (around 1.5 hrs). Alternatively, you can hire canoes and a guide for the day, which would allow you to view the beautiful scenery and visit the caves without throngs of other tourists. It's also possible to finish the trip at the 'whisky village' where the local Laolao (lao rice spirit) is made. There are two caves - one on the entry level and another - the upper caves - on top of the hill. A very steep climb, but worth the efforts. A candle or torch recommended to see the upper cave, as it is dark.
  • Phou Si — The main hill in the city from which you have a good view of the whole area. It's not a very steep climb from the bottom and sunrise and sunset are the most sensible and rewarding times to go up. There is a near-panoramic view from the top. Entrance fee 20,000 kip.
  • Vat Xieng Toung — The oldest monastery in town and one of the most beautiful. Opens from 6AM - 6PM. Entry fee 20,000 kip. One entrance on the road along Mekhong river, the other on the by-lane off the main road.


  • The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre — This small but perfectly formed museum is dedicated to the ethnic cultures of Laos, find out more about the groups that make Laos so unique and enrich your visit to Luang Prabang. Sometimes closed for Exhibitions, so please check in advance.
  • Ock Pop Tok Living Craft Centre — Situated on the banks of the Mekong just 2 km south of Luang Prabang town, this artisans oasis offers an informative free tour to all visitors. Operating as a fairtrade traditional weaving centre you can take classes in bamboo / textile weaving, dye your own silk, draw your own batik or just relax at the Mekong garden cafe. Free Tuk Tuk departs daily from both Ock Pop Tok Shops in town: 10am - 12 noon - 2pm.
  • Cooking classes — An enjoyable way to gain insights into Lao culinary methods and traditions. There are three substantial cooking class providers in town, all attached to popular restaurants, using Lao chefs/instructors. They differ somewhat in style and content, but all start with a tour of the local food market and include transport and copies of their recipes and other information about Lao cuisine. Participants sit down to eat their dishes afterwards. Tamnak Lao is situated in premises to the side of their main-street restaurant. They offer both day and evening courses (10am to 5pm, 250,000 kip, and 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm 200,000 kip). Contact details:[9], tel +856 71254670 Tamarind: a taste of Laos has a restaurant opposite Wat Nong temple, but you are taken to and from rather lovely gardens by the water a short ride from town for their classes (9 am to 3:30 pm, 250,000 kip). Contact details: [10], tel +856(20)77770484. Tum Tum Cheng, whose restaurant and open kitchen is also on the main street towards the end of the peninsula, offers a half-day course for $US38. Classes have more of a demonstration orientation, with participants helping instructors with various tasks. Tel+856 71252019. All courses can be booked at the relevant restaurants.

Some of the hotels and guesthouses in town also offer small or private cooking classes for their guests.

  • Lao Red Cross — A traditional Lao sauna and massage, very popular with locals in the afternoon. Th Wisunarat, in front of Wat Wisunalat. 1 hour massage 40,000 kip, sauna 10,000 kip.
  • Rent a Motorbike — Although prices are astronomical by Southeast Asia standards ($US17-$20 per day as of September 2009), riding around the surrounding areas of Luang Prabang is a fantastic way to see the countryside. It is recommeded to hire from the Government Tourist information centre, although there are several vendors around. Tank up with gasoline worth 10,000 kip (a little more then US$ 1) for the whole day. As usual practise, they will keep your passport, so make sure they know when you leave and how to recover your passport, as saturdays and sundays they are fully closed and other days they have specific working hours.
  • Vipassana temple and park — This golden temple, highly visible from Phou Si, is a shrine for Buddhists who practice Vipassana meditation.
  • Bowling — There's a perfectly decent bowling alley a few kilometers away from the city center that is open until 3AM. After 10PM it gets crowded with Westerners who generally seem more interested in partying than bowling. Whatever your interest, this place is worth a visit if you want to have a break from the usual tourist stuff. Tuk-tuk drivers will know how to get there. The price of a game is 15,000 kip per person until midnight when it goes up to 20,000, though they may try to charge you more. Unfortunately, bowling has been closed down since April 2010.
  • Sunset on the waterfront — Take a walk along the Mekong, or sit and enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants and watch the sun sink into the horizon.
  • Fair Trek Project [11]. People who love activities and treks may find some interesting interactive tours which are designed to support villages outside of Luang Prabang which is probably the only community based tourism initiative that really brings money into the funds. More info on the website or at Tiger Trail Tour Company shop.
  • Dinner at Lenou's Library [12]. Lenou is a law student who recently opened a lending library for the local kids. For a few bucks he'll organize a home-cooked meal at the library, complete with drinks and a tuk tuk to get you there/back. All proceeds benefit the library.
  • Big Brother Mouse is a worthwhile organisation devoted to encouraging literacy in young adults and has premises off the main street, down a side street next to 3Nagas restaurant. Depending on sponsorship and volunteers, it welcomes tourists Mondays to Saturdays from 9am to 11am to help with English conversation and reading practice. They publish and distribute books in Lao and English; consider buying some books to take as gifts to village children as you travel through Laos. They are also to be found in Vientiane


Thai baht and US$ are widely accepted but the exchange rates vary. As of May 2009, there are a small number of ATM's accepting Visa, MasterCard, Maestro and Eurocards. These ATM's are situated mostly in Sisavangvong Rd just near the end of the Night Market. The ATM's dispense currency in Lao Kip and generally allow a maximum withdrawal of 700,000 kip with a charge of 20,000 kip. Multiple withdrawals are allowed to a daily maximum of 5,000,000 kip. If you arrive by plane, there is an ATM and a money changer at the airport which is open for a few hours of the day, so don't count on changing there. Also, their rates are significantly worse than the banks in town.

There are a growing number of money changers, located on Sisavangvong Rd or in the permanent markets further East. One is next to the ATM near the Night Markets, another is about 50m further North along the street, located out the front of one of the first restaurants (looks like a little tollbooth/shack). The rates offered may vary, so shop around before you change. Better maybe to stick with official money changing services at a bank which are easily found.

A night market (on Sisavangvong Road) caters for tourists with every kind of souvenir you could want and closes at about 10 PM. Particularly good are the duvet covers, cushion covers and pillow sets. They can even make one up to the dimensions you require in one next day. Very good are hanging lamps, which are foldable to bring back. It is well worth a look and the hawkers are very pleasant to deal with and amazingly non-pushy by the standard elsewhere in Asia. Traders range from young kids to the elderly who usually made crafts, arts and goods by themselves for sale. Good natured bargaining is the go but don't obsess over this and ruin your experience as well as giving the trader a bad day. It should be understood that the quality and design of goods is lower in the market than in the legions of increasingly chic stores in the town.

Laotian asthetic sense is quite evolved in its own way. For instance check out some of the higher end higher stores:

  • Caruso Lao, 60 Sakaline Rd, Luang Prabang, +856 71 254574, [1]. A fabulous gallery store showcasing the very best quality Lao silk and other handicrafts.
  • Erawan Arts [13] — This two floor showroom is in a traditionally renovated historic house that dates back over 100 years. Displaying the finest 100% hand-woven and naturally dyed Lao silk and exotic wood products from throughout Laos, a share of the profits go directly to supporting Lao communities in need through several initiatives from installing fresh water systems to villages, providing books for schools, and running medical trips to remote areas. The owner is very informative and approachable, and happy to answer questions on Laos and give a tour on the architecture of this beautiful building.
  • Ock Pop Tok, 73/5 Ban Vat Nong, Luang Prabang, plus 2 other stores in town, +856 71 253219, [2]. An ethical trading company with superb galleries. Also run classes and visits to village weaving faciltiies.


  • Weird cast-off Chinese goods at the local market.
  • Laos t-shirts, various local handicrafts, sewable flags, and scrapbooks for your tickets and other items are also available here.
  • Paintings on Lao handmade paper
  • Notebooks made with Lao handmade paper

Books can be a travelers home away from home and a way to escape heat/boredom/long bus rides. However, several book stores operating in and around the area that sell photocopies to unsuspecting travelers. For photocopies, if you do buy them, insist on checking them as many times pages are missing or pages are basically unreadable.

  • Book Exchange – If you want to exchange or buy a book (or books) go to the Tamnak Lao Restaurant Book Exchange. They have the best selection of books in Luang Prabang. The book exchange operates on a “one for one” basis plus 20,000 kip, and all books are available for purchase as well. All of the money raised by the book exchange goes to buying provisions for the Luang Prabang Government Orphanages and Ethnic High Schools [14]. The Book Exchange is in the laneway next to the restaurant.


Restaurants line Sisavangvong Road and the road along the Mekong. Food runs the line from standard Southeast Asian backpacker fare to more traditional Lao dishes, including buffalo sausage right up to very high quality French cuisine.

Local specialities include:

  • French baguettes and other bakery items. Extremely well done here.
  • Local watercress which is very peppery.
  • Fried dried seaweed with sesame seeds dipped in a chili sauce.
  • Buffalo steaks and sausages.

For more upscale options, try near the end of Sisavangvong Road (end of the Night Market) in a little alley (local buffet for 5000 kip). There are several boutique restaurants which serve quite nice fusion Asian food.

  • Blue Lagoon Restaurant, (beside National Museum), 856 (71)25 36 98, [3]. Offers Luang Prabang-Lao highlights and Swiss classics as well as tender local beef and a large variety of delicious snacks and fresh salad creations. The generously compiled drink list provides an exquisite selection of wine, fruit juice, cocktails, mocktails, beer and coffee.
  • Boulevard Restaurant - A new Al Fresco style restaurant under the same wing of New Daraphet Villa behing JoMa Bakery. Owner has recently brought in sound equipment and a new acoustic guitar for music enthusiasts to jam. The restaurant has 2 sides for both proper dining and casual drinking. serves decent draft tiger beer and a great atmosphere for meeting new friends from the guesthouses along the street.
  • Cafe 5/6 - A nice two-floors cafe to relax and enjoy great tapas (10000 to 20000 Kiep) and shakes. They have chill background music and WiFi internet access. Located on Chao Fa Ngnum (about 150m West of the Post Office (La Poste).
  • Hmong Night Market (Vegetarian + Vegan) - One food stall says vegetarian and the other "végétalien" (vegan). Approximately 5000 K for a plate. Cash only. Market is open 5PM-10PM.
  • "The House" Belgium's only Restaurant & Bar in Luang Prabang. Excellent price-quality cuisine. It has an appealing range of Belgian Beers, Cocktails and Word Wines. Well known for it's Lasagna, Beef Stews, Asian Curries, French Fries and also Belgian Chocolate desserts. Highly recommended for vegetarians. Conveniently situated at the Nam Khan riverside of Mount Phousie, only a few minutes away from main street and night market. A green bamboo garden with fairy lights : very popular and good ambience. For the experienced in search of comforts. +856(0)71.255.021 [email protected]
  • Indochina Spirit- Excellent Lao and Thai cuisine. Great value. Everything is tasty but try the minced fish and aubergines. Has old, stuffy, and not so pleasant odor in the interior tables, so be warned.
  • L'Elephant- Around the corner from Saffron Caffe. A lovely restaurant with a unique mix of Laotian and French cuisine. The food is extremely good, but has its price. It is directly in front of a small guesthouse, and not far away from Les 3 Nagas hotel and Villa Santi hotel. The ingredients are of the highest quality, ranging from French camambert to Laotian lemongrass and river weeds. The soups are very good, along with the tender and juicy local and french meat. The desserts are mouthwatering, and most of them have chocolate. Be warned though that the menu is both pricey and some items do not justify their price tag. This has a great ambience.
  • Sala Café-Nice place with a view on the Nam Khan river. This restaurant-bar offers an open air terrace where you can relax while trying homemade Vietnamese,French and Lao specialities. Menu regulars are pastries, Bourdaloue tart,Mango crumble,Chocolate mousse and cocktails including Mojito and Martini dry. Some people think it is a little bit expensive, but the quality has a price...
  • Scandinavian Bakery- Serves western quality breakfasts, burgers and pizzas. Food must be paid for before eating.
  • Shakes & Crepes- a no name place serving delicious shakes for 5000 kip and fantastic sweet crepes starting from 7000 kip. In front of Croissant d'Or on the main street.
  • Tamarind - Near the famous restaurant l'Elephant. This is a part of the Stay Another Day organization. The food is all Laos traditional food. The waitstaff explains the menu to you and you have many options to choose from to experience a vast array of Laos food including platter combinations of dips, salads, etc. The waitstaff explains your meal to you when you get it so that you know how Lao people would eat it. In addition to the tasty food, they sell organic food products, recipe books, and more. You can also book tours to markets, cooking courses, and more through the restaurant.
  • Tamnak Lao Restaurant [15]- A great place for traditional Lao food at reasonable prices. Located in the main road opposite the Villa Santi Hotel, it has a fabulous upstairs balcony with a view over Villa Santi and down the main road. If you want to eat on the balcony you might have to book a table. Make sure when you order your food, to order to entree first, and the main course after the entree has been served. Otherwise, it is possible that your salad will come after your chicken main course, and you are expected to eat all together. So if you are in a habit of eating course by course, make sure you order such.
  • Utopia - Relaxing zen garden by day, tropical jungle lounge by night. This is definitely one of the most unique destinations in South East Asia, and is a great place to seriously relax. Enjoy the view along the Nam Khan river while enjoying a menu designed by Tom, The Hungry Cyclist, an internationally published food journalist. No music is played during the day so you can enjoy the view, a good book, board games, Wi-Fi, or the acoustic guitar. Although a little difficult to locate, you will be rewarded when you find this gem! Opens 8am for breakfast.


There are a number of places to drink around Luang Prabang, although the club scene isn't really existent. Most restaurants have tables outside where you can sit back with a beer or two.

  • Books and Tea L'Etranger - downstairs is a book shop/swap and upstairs there is a bar selling drinks and cake in a room covered in cushions for lazing around and reading. Movies everyday at 7PM. A tad greedy and unfriendly on the book exchange business.
  • "The Hive Bar" or the "Lao Lao Beer Garden" are the places to go at night and to meet people, if everything closes (at about 12PM) you can go to the "Vietnam Bar". This is invariably reached by all the remaining people at The Hive and Laos Beer Garden clubbing together and getting one or two tuktuks together. Lao residents are beginning to complain about the Hive and Laos Beer garden because of roudy foreigners and offers of drugs and prostitution. The Lao Lao Beer Garden also shows live sports in the day (unlike the 'Sports Bar' next to the night market, as we found out despite an earlier promise that it would!).
  • Mekong Sunset Beach Bar - The place to go to watch the sunset. Located at the river mouth of Nam Khan and Mekong, you have to cross the bamboo bridge behind Wat Xieng Thong and walk 3 min. Very simple but unbelievable. Floods in the wet season.
  • Morning Glory Cafe - On the quiet end of the main street, after 3 Nagas. Run by a laid-back couple. Thai and western food, Good wine, by the glass. Garden seating. Temple in front and street life can be seen.
  • Saffron Caffè - (around the corner from L'Elephant restaurant in Wat Nong village) - The Best coffee in Luang Prabang, if not in all of Laos! Fresh roasted coffee from the mountains of Luang Prabang itself, and an array of hot espresso drinks (we like the Caramel Macchiato) and iced coffees, including some Luang Prabang original recipes. Try the Banana Shake Macchiato for the most delicious drink experience in Luang Prabang! Delicious fresh baked goods such as their Cinnamon Swirls and Banana muffins go quickly. Granola and salad wraps are good. Saffron has now begun selling their coffee in gold foil bags again.
  • Tamarind - Kind of hard to find, but worth the effort of getting the tuk tuk driver to ask around where it is. This is a part of the Stay Another Day organization. They offer a variety of traditional Laos drinks including local fruits and tea. Also the cooking classes and local products such as creams, jam and so on are worth checking out!
  • Utopia - Relaxing zen garden by day, tropical jungle lounge by night. This is definitely one of the most unique destinations in South East Asia and is not to be missed. Enjoy the view along the Nam Khan river, a magical jungle garden, seriously cool music, relaxing zen cushions, open air lounge, shisha pipes, guitar and conga drum, board games, foosball, darts, giant Jenga, 30 ft rope ladder up a coconut tree, lit Beach Volleyball, and bomb memorabilia from the Secret War! Utopia is tucked away in Ban Aphay village, less than a 2 minute walk from the Hive Bar/Lao Lao Gardens/Wat Visoun. The only disappointed people are those that wait for their last day to find it.


This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under $US20
Mid-range $US20-80
Splurge Over $US80

Luang Prabang has the best selection of accommodation in Laos, with something to suit every budget. There is everything from tent sites under a roof for 20,000 Kip per night up to Super Luxery Hotel at US$1500 per night. While the big chains have yet to make an appearance, there's plenty of "boutique" accommodation, although this heavily overused word runs the gamut from quirky to luxury. Most of the lanes and allys all through Luang Prabang have places to stay for the night although I have found a large selection in the lanes south of the Post Office.


  • Cold River Guesthouse. run by a local family and you meet often a lot of travellers. It's directly on the Khan River. Off peak times, it costs 80,000 kip. Unusually, they do not accept US$. Free filtered water and bananas are available. On Saturdays they'll serve free home-cooked dinner.
  • Mala Dress Maker. Wat That Road. Newly opened 3 rooms upstairs all with self contained bathrooms (Dress shop is in front). 50 000 kip - 80 000 kip depending on season. Very close to the Mekong river and short walk to the night markets. This very friendly lady likes to practice her English so even if she has no room then drop in and have a chat to her. She also does washing, coffee and basic breakfast if wanted.
  • Koun Savan Guest House, near the centre not very friendly nor clean nor quiet, US$7 rooms without bathroom (noisy), US$15 rooms with bathroom
  • Levady Guesthouse - in a lovely side street 50 m off the main street. Super nice family, wooden rooms and floor, bike rental, absolutely tidy. Double rooms with fan and private bathroom US$7, long term discounts on request.
  • Merry Guesthouse. has rooms for US$3 with bathroom outside. Free filtered water and bananas are available. Not so merry though, the options further down the alley (Cold River and Sysomphone) are more appealing.
  • Soutikkone Guest House. Central location near the night market and an Indian Restaurant. Large, clean rooms with a very hot shower, good Western toilet, and proper mosquito netting on the windows/door. Very nice wooden floorboards as well. The staff speak English. As of January, 2009, rooms are quoted at 120,000 kip, but they'll come down to 100,000 kip right away if you ask. Same discount on laundry service just by asking.
  • Sysomphone Guesthouse. (+856-71) 252-543 Located in Banvisoun 22/4 street, off Vatmou-Enna road. Have a good view of Nam Khan River behind the guesthouse and is just around 10min by walk to Sisavangvong Road. Very friendly and helpful family/owner. Free bananas and water. Owner has good information, prepares free dinner once a week for guests, has sticky rice if you stumble across dinner, collects traveller's photographs in an album and willingly share things he knows about the Lao people or the country if you ask. The owner fulfils his social responsibility by buying stationeries for students living in the outskirt (about 30-40km out of town), travelling there about once to thrice a month depending on voluntary donations made by generous guests - notices are sticked in a couple of corners in the guesthouse. Guests could request to visit the students if they wished to. Rooms with shared hot-water bathrooms 40000 - 50000 kip. A newer, cleaner building in the back has fresher rooms for 70000 kip.
  • Vilay Vanh Guest House is one of the better bang-for-the-buck values in Luang Prabang. Located in Village Aphay, it is off the main streets and has all amenities like wi-fi, air-conditioning, and clean rooms with nice decor. It is conveniently located near Utopia restaurant and bar, and is close walking distance to Wat Visoun and the night entertainment district.
  • VannaPhone Guest House located 10 minutes away from the airport and about 4 minutes from the city. Ranging from $US10-$US15 (depending on what room you choose). Ok sized rooms with kind of small bathrooms. Noisy if you choose the rooms located close to the street but if you choose one of the new backrooms it is OK.
  • Vilay Guesthouse. Located near the night Market in a quiet street, this 10 rooms guesthouse proposes simple (but nice and clean) rooms, with or without private bathroom, with fan or air-co. From $US4 in the low season. Located in the center, the owner speaks French and English. Free Hi-speed Internet workstation, and free secured Wi-Fi. [16] There is more than one place in town with the word "Vilay" in the name so you might get taken to the wrong place if you dont have more specific address information.
  • Vong Champa Guesthouse. centrally located in a small alley on the Mekong riverfront near the night market, cheap (singles from 30000 kip), quiet, brand new and spotless clean. Watch out though, as the owners have tried to charge multiple guests for an extra night on different occasions. Ensure that your date is properly recorded in the guestbook. This seems to be a common tactic in Laos, and shouldn't keep you from staying here.
  • Xayana Guesthouse and X³ Capsule Hotel, [17][18]. Guesthouse in a Lao-style villa in the protected zone. Dorms from $US4 or 30.000 Kip, rooms from $US8. The dorms are very clean with bathroom/showers inside. Movies are shown in the evening. Extra services are quite expensive. (valuable storage in safety box for 20.000 Kip, laundry service 18.000 Kip. There are cheaper laundry services nearby though.)


  • Bouakham Chanthasack Guesthouse. A brand new, beautiful high end guesthouse on the Mekong riverfront near the night market. All rooms have bathrooms and air conditioning, very clean and nice, double rooms for $US45. Owners are selling also the best chilli sauce in Luang Prabang.
  • Hotel De Lyon, out of town near the airport, [19][20]. New 24-room hotel built in "Lao-Colonial" style. Free airport and city shuttles. $US45-60.
  • Jade Hotel, Phu Vao Rd, [21][22]. Modern hotel in an old protected Chinese-style building. Flat-screen TVs, free airport transfers. $US30-70.
  • Manichan Guesthouse, [23]. Near the Night Market, centrally located, new and clean in green, peaceful environment. "Lao-Colonial" style house with wooden floors and homey feel rooms. Private and shared bathrooms with hot, separated showers. Free coffee corner. Chill out balcony with city view. Belgian-Lao management. Low season: US$7–15, high season: US$12–30 (including breakfast buffet). Air-con an optional extra US$4.
  • Merry Swiss Lao Located near Mt. Phousi not on the main street side, but the other side. The room was not clean, had moisture issues, and had a rooster pin attached. Two separate guests only stayed one night and had to check out due to noise. Room was $US40 one night and $US35 another. Rooms have private bathroom and air conditioning if needed.
  • New Daraphet Villa, [24][25]. Traditional Lao villa in the heritage zone, turned into a boutique hotel. Large terraces and lots of flowers. Airport transfer included. $US30-60.
  • Rama Hotel A recently renovated higher end guesthouse. Hot water shower and air con if you need it. Rooms in February 2008 were $US30 per night and included a decent breakfast. This hotel was fairly quiet with a little bit of traffic noise until about 11PM.
  • Refuge of the Last Dreamers, . Located on the other side of the Khan River, near the temple. The guesthouse is in a beautifully restored building. It is owned by a young Australian guy, Niki. He provides a very relaxing atmosphere. To reach the guesthouse, at daytime, cross the bamboo bridge (2000 kip), at night you have to take the motor bridge further north.
  • Sabaidee Guest House.[26], 70 Thammikarat Road. There are lots of good guest houses along here this one is good value around $US25 for a double en-suite room with breakfast included. There's a good laundrette just opposite the entrance too.
  • Thony 1 Guesthouse. This converted family villa, located along the banks of the Nam Khan river in Luang Prabang, is another great accommodation option within Luang Prabang. Only 10 minutes walk to the night market and historic centre, Thony 1 Guesthouse offers a cheap and comfortable stay amid scenic surroundings and the gentle flow of the Nam Khan River. The warm welcomes from the owner and the staff will make your stay more comfortable with a homely touch. The attractive location of Tony 1 Guest House will make guests enjoy spending a quiet and relax holidays in Luang Prabang. Hotel Address: Ban Visoun, Chao Chomphou.Rd. (Just head for Wat Visoun Temple which is very close by. From the temple just look towards the Nam Khan River and you will see the guesthouse). Ranging from $US22-$35. Rooms with riverview & family rooms available. E-mail: [email protected]


  • Villa Kiengkham. Nice, clean, comfortable hotel with friendly staff. $US25. Note that it is not where shown in the 2007 Lonely Planet Guide to Laos but further north in the same street near the Rama Hotel.
  • Villa Le TamTam, [27]. Superior Guest House conveniently located in a quiet steet just a minute walk from the city centre. Excellent service and peaceful atmosphere. Full breakfast included. $US55-80.


  • Amantaka. [28] Luxury Resort of the Aman Group. Set on a large garden estate, Amantaka is housed in graceful French colonial buildings just south of Phousi Hill. Airy and elegant throughout, the décor and furnishings reflect the town’s French colonial history. Rates from US$650 per night.

  • Ancient Luang Prabang.[29] In main st next to night market. No room numbers - names like "tiger room". Rooms not quite up to standard for this price - no shower curtain and cleverly designed taps to ensure a wet floor, no bedside table, no reading light. However clean and comfortable. Friendly staff and no cost for airport transfer. Note that internet is not free.
  • The Apsara, +856 71 254670 (), [4]. A quite wonderful hotel in a restored colonial building overlooking the Khan river on Kingkitsarath Road. All rooms are decorated with local fabrics and furniture and very much in keeping with the hip and funky image of the hotel. Try to stay in the original building if you can. Superb French/Asian restaurant in the lobby. US$ 75 to 120.
  • La Residence Phou Vao.[30] Amongst the town's prime hotels, this resort nestles amongst landscaped grounds and gardens, and has picturesque views over Phou Si and the World Heritage town. The property has a traditional Lao spa and a restaurant offering both indigenous and French cuisine. Regular shuttles are provided and boat trips arranged. An Orient-Express Hotel.
  • Les 3 Nagas Hotel. a nice colonial hotel with 7 rooms on one side and 8 on the other. The restaurant is fairly cheap, but the rooms are rather overpriced. There are a few executive suites, the most costly coming with their own set of stairs. But beware: your nights may be troubled as there is a rooster that sings every morning at the hotel, at about 3AM. The attitude of the owner has put off some guests who report this in forums.
  • Sala Luang Prabang. fine restored colonial villa with comfortable rooms, but it has its price. It has been ordered to change its name as "sala" is considered inappropriate by the local and UNESCO authorities, representing the Buddha.
  • The Grand. an atmospheric set of comfortable neo-colonial buildings on the site of Prince Phetsarath's old residence. Many rooms have idyllic views of both the Mekong River and the hotels gardens and ponds. Located around 4 km from town (a regular shuttle boat and bus service runs for guests), this hotel is enables the discerning tourist to escape from the hum of the city. During the winter season, breakfast is served outdoors on a terrace with spectacular views of the Mekong River and the surrounding hills that emerge from the morning mist.
  • Villa Santi Resort - villa-style resort, good restaurant, (unfortunately) terrible mosquito infested pool, massage and spa service.
  • Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel is an old palace transformed into a hotel, with the "Angsana Spa" within the hotel. Spacious rooms with great amenities. Each room with a balcony. Small but clean swimming pool, hearty breakfast, all staff know you by name as there are only 24 rooms. Within walking distance to all the attractions.
  • Santi Resort & Spa, Villa Santi Hotel & Resort, Sakkarine Road, PO Box 681, Luang Prabang, Laos, (856-71) 252157, [5]. This boutique hotel features 23 rooms and 2 suites, all decorated in a royal Laotian theme.

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