Laos

Things you need to know before going to Luang Prabang

12 February 2018

Laos was still an unknown destination for us. The only thing we knew about Laos is that it’s know for its backpackers and nature lovers. We chose to explore the unique town of Luang Prabang. Luang Prabang is a city in north central Laos that has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage since 1995. Given its rich history as a French colony, there are still some French influences in the lifestyle, the menu’s, the various French bakeries, … Every morning we had a fresh croissant, which is normally pretty difficult to find in Asia !

 

Should I go to Luang Prabang?

Luang Prabang can be described as a small, cozy and beautiful Asian city with clear French influences. Given its location between Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodja there is no sea in Laos. Luang Prabang is located between 2 rivers, the Mekong and the Nam Khan River. Where you can also do beautiful ‘sunset cruises‘!

The city itself is, as you’ve already read above, completely UNESCO World Heritage by its many Buddhist temples and rich history. For example, there is a story that the king and his family were send to a re-education camp by the new government and died there.

Luang Prabang is one of the most touristic places in Loas, together with Vang Vieng (known among the backpackers for its tubing) and the capital Vientiane. Don’t take the word ‘touristic’ too serious, because tourism in Laos is not that developed as in Thailand. You will certainly meet other tourists, but there are no waiting lines for temples or other attractions. It’s clear that Luang Prabang dependens on tourism, there are many cosy restaurants and bars. The accommodations and hotels in Laos are often in a typical colonial style, which creates a certain vibe.

Temple next to the National Museum

 

How many days should I stay?

Luang Prabang is not that big, namely 16,875 km² which corresponds to 1/12th of Antwerp. Everything in the centre is easy accessible by foot, but there are many hotels that rent bicycles. We think cycling is a great way to explore the city!

We stayed in Luang Prabang for 4 days, which was certainly enough to explore and visit Luang Prabang itself. You can also do this on a shorter period, but you’ll have a busier schedule. For example, the most important temples of Luang Prabang can be visited in 1 or 2 days (Phousi Hill, Barrel Xiengthong, National Museum, That Makmo, …). An excursion to the famous Kuang Si Falls or Pak Ou Cave can be done in one day.

If you want to know more about the highlights of Laos, check this blogpost!

Map Luang Prabang Laos

The map of Luang Prabang

Budget your trip

The local currency of Laos is KIP, 1 euro corresponds with 10 000 KIP. Like almost everywhere in Southeast Asia, except for Singapore, it is very cheap here! If you go to a restaurant for a main dish with some beverages, it will cost you around 75 000 KIP per person. The entrance fee for a temple is usually between 20 000 – 30 000 KIP.
In terms of accommodation, you can go as cheap or as expensive as you want.

 

Daily costs
Backpacker Midrange Top end
Accomodation Hostel €5-10 Hotel €15 – €45 Boutique hotel or resort > €50
Food & beverages Locale restaurants and streetfood €2-5 Good restaurant €5-€10 Gastronomic restaurant > €15
Transportation Local tuktuks/bus €5 Local excursion €25 Organized excursions > €30

 

When is the best time to visit Luang Prabang?

The best travel to visit Laos is from November until February, because the cool dry season runs from November to February and the hot dry season from March to April. Laos has a tropical savannah climate and the wet season runs from around May to October. For more information about the climate, click here.

Do I need a visa?

Yes, you need a vise when you are traveling to Laos.

Documents required:

  • Passport or travel document with a validity not less than 6 months
  • < 30 days, your visa can be secured on arrival at all international airports and most international border crossings. The price of the visa depends of your country, but it is usually between $30-$40.
  • One(1) recent 4x6cm. photograph of the applicant. If you would forget photograph, they can take one for you at the embassy for $1.
  • The 30-day tourist visa can be extended an additional 90 days at a cost of 20,000K per day, but only in major cities such as Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Pakse and Savannakhet

 

Our highlights of Luang Prabang can be found here!

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