3-Day Luang Prabang Itinerary | Laos

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3 Day Luang Prabang Itinerary, Laos

Day 1 – Temples and Shopping 

Despite being small, the city of Luang Prabang is full of temples and shopping opportunities; ample to keep you busy for much of the first day of your Luang Prabang itinerary.

Morning Market

Spread over a couple of small back streets north of Sisavangvong Road near the Royal Palace is the Morning Market. Open between 6:30 am and 10:00 am, this is where many locals do their daily food shop, if you want to eat your way through Luang Prabang, this is a good place to start.

An early morning browse gives great insight into the raw ingredients native to Northern Laos

Local delicacies at the morning market in Luang Prabang, Laos

Explore the Temples

Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has 34 Buddhist temples (or wats) dotted between Chinese and colonial structures. These are special because they are living temples; home to over 1,000 practising monks and novices. No visit to the city would be complete without a spot of temple hopping; easily done by foot or by bicycle as I did. A bicycle can be rented from many hostels, hotels or guesthouses (some free of charge), or from travel agencies in town for about 20,000 kip (£1.90).

Wat Xieng Thong in Luang Prabang, Laos

Other popular temples include Wat Sene Souk Haram, also 20,000 kip to enter and Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham which costs 10,000 kip (£0.95). Both are again on the main Sisavangvong Road. That leaves another 30 or so temples I haven’t mentioned. The best way to discover these is to just wander the streets of Luang Prabang and look around those that take your fancy. Some have a small entry fee and others are free.

After a morning of temples, you’re bound to be getting peckish. Luckily there are numerous food options ranging from local street food stalls, cafes and restaurants to suit any budget. All kinds of cuisine can be found, so where you choose to eat will be down to personal choice. For a quick and cheap option, I recommend Xieng Thong Noodle on the main street opposite Wat Khili. Their speciality is Khao Piak Sen; a chewy rice noodle soup with pork, chopped greens, bean sprouts and fried garlic. Simple but delicious, at 12,000 kip (£1.12), it’s a real bargain. Be careful not to miss out as they close mid-afternoon.
As always be sure to dress modestly when visiting any temples. Women and men should cover shoulders and knees and remove shoes before entering. I always carry an emergency lightweight scarf or sarong for such occasions.


Browse the Shops

After lunch why not have a short break from sightseeing. Take a walk along the main street, through back streets and alleys to browse the shops dotted about. There’s a great selection showcasing the best of Lao culture, traditions, and art; some with a modern or western twist.  You’ll find textiles made into items such as bedspreads, cushion covers and scarves; jewellery and other trinkets created from bomb metal; and second-hand books, spices, toys and clothing. Several shops double up as cafes such as Ock Pop Tok, Ma Tae Si or L’Etranger Books and Tea, perfect if you need a refreshment break.

Royal Palace Museum

Set in large, neat gardens on Sisavangvong Road is the Royal Palace Museum or Haw Kham. Built for King Sisavangvong in 1904 it has several exhibits including weapons, paintings, a solid gold Buddha, the Lao crown jewels and a car collection. Royal Palace Museum in Luang Prabang Laos

Mount Pou Si 

If you have enough energy left take a climb up Mount Pou Si, which is opposite the Royal Palace Museum.

View from Mount Pou Si in Luang Prabang, Laos

Night Market 

The daily Night Market opens from 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm on the main street of the old town. It also spills down into some of the side streets leading off it. Night Market in Luang Prabang, Laos

Day 2 – Traditions, Culture and Arts 

Day 2 of your Luang Prabang itinerary is all about experiencing and learning about traditions, culture and arts.

Tak Bat Alms Giving 

To observe the daily Buddhist tradition of Tak Bat Alms Giving you’ll need a very early start, between 4:30 am and 5:00 am. This will give you time to find somewhere to wait for the orange-robed monks to leave their temples at 5:30 am. Tak Bat Alms Giving in Luang Prabang, Laos

Whatever way you experience Tak Bat make sure you do so with respect. Fellow Travel Blogger Jennifer Joslin from Two Can Travel attended Tak Bat with me and has written a great post with more information and tips on how to observe or join the Tak Bat ceremony respectfully.

Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre 

To learn more about the 49 officially recognised, diverse ethnic groups (and their subgroups) in Laos, a visit to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC) is a must.  Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre in Luang Prabang, Laos

You’ll be ready for some lunch at this point so I’d suggest grabbing lunch in one of the small local eateries. We were hosted in a selection of these over the course of the forum and suggest trying some of the local dishes. My favourites were Laab – spicy meat salad, Or Lam – peppery meat and herby stew, Kaipen – crispy river weed with chilli and sesame seeds, and Luang Prabang Sausage.


Ock Pop Tok and Living Crafts Centre

A fair trade business founded by an Englishwoman and a Lao woman, Ock Pop Tok (OPT) translated to English means ‘East Meets West’. Starting out as just a small shop selling a few textile designs, it is now one of the most significant artisan and textile organisations in Laos and South East Asia.

Ok Pop Tok Silk Road Cafe in Luang Prabang, Laos


Garavek Traditional Storytelling and Music 

For a spot of pre-dinner entertainment why not head on over to Garavek for one of their traditional storytelling performances.

This two-man show performs every night between 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm in a small theatre in Luang Prabang’s old town. The storyteller delivers a daily presentation of traditional Lao stories. He’s accompanied by a musician playing the khene, a traditional Lao bamboo mouth organ. The company aims to demonstrate and preserve the traditional Lao legends, myths and folklore.
The show costs 50,000 kip (£4.75) and tickets can be purchased from 6:00 pm at the theatre. I was unable to attend an official performance but was treated to a taster during one of the breakout sessions of the tourism forum. It was really entertaining and I’d have loved to see the full show!

Day 3 – Out of the City and Evening Games

Once you’ve had your fill of central Luang Prabang and its offerings, you may be ready to get out of the city and explore the surrounding area for day 3 of your Luang Prabang itinerary.

Kuang Si Waterfalls

Located about 30 kilometres outside of town, a trip to Kuang Si Waterfalls was one of the key things I wanted to see whilst in Luang Prabang. I’d read great reviews and luckily wasn’t disappointed. It was absolutely stunning and the most beautiful waterfall I’ve seen in South East Asia so far. The 45 minute or so tuk tuk ride to Kuang Si takes you through the picturesque Lao countryside. You’ll drive through green rice paddies and dusty little villages, with a backdrop of limestone karst mountains.
Kuang Si Waterfall, near Luang Prabang in Laos
To reach the main waterfall you have to walk through the trees and around each pool until you reach the bridge at the foot of the cascading torrent of water. If you cross the bridge you can hike up the side of the waterfall, across the top and down the other side. It’s a very steep climb with little to grab onto so be very careful. I wasn’t aware you could do this so had turned up ill-prepared in my flip-flops, be sure to wear walking shoes, walking sandals or trainers with good grips. Let’s just say there were a couple of hair-raising moments. I also wouldn’t recommend doing the hike if it’s raining as it could get extremely slippery underfoot.
Park entry is 20,000 kip and a tuk tuk from the centre of Luang Prabang shouldn’t cost any more than 200,000 kip (£19) for the whole tuk tuk. I’m basing that on what I paid but I booked through an agency in town (as I was in a rush). I’m sure you could get it cheaper on the street if you haggle with the driver. Definitely don’t book it via your hotels as they charge up to 500,000 kip (£47.50); clearly a rip-off! 

Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre

Inside the Kuang Si Waterfall park entrance is the Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre run by Free the Bears Laos.Asiatic Black Bears at the Bear Rescue Centre near Luang Prabang in Laos
The sanctuary is home to several Asiatic Black Bears or Moon Bears as they’re otherwise known. They’d been rescued from traffickers and poachers who’d most likely trapped them to use in the bear bile trade or to sell their body parts for use in traditional medicines.  Whilst these bears are now in captivity and can never be released into the wild, the alternative is much, much worse. I spent some time watching the bears and they are able to roam around big enclosures and seemed pretty content.
The entry fee is included in the main park fee but none of this is passed back to Save the Bears. If you’d like to help feel free to make a donation or buy a souvenir from their on-site shop.
300 metres before the entrance to Kuang Si Park there is also a Butterfly Park, which may be worth a visit. Entry is $4.00 USD (£3.00).


Pha Tad Ke Botanical Gardens

Once back in Luang Prabang centre and have had lunch, what better way to spend your last afternoon than with a river trip to Pha Tad Ke Botanical Gardens.

The gardens have beautiful collections of over 2,000 species of plants and trees. This is all set at the bottom of the spectacular Pha Tad Ke cliff which stands above the Mekong River. There’s also a cafe and shop on site.
Opening hours are 08:00 am to 06:00 pm every day except for Wednesday. You can buy a ticket and get the boat from the reception on Ban Wat That in town. The basic excursion is $25 USD (£19.20) and includes the return boat ride, orchid talk, bamboo handicraft workshop, and herbal tea tasting. There’s also a selection of workshops and full day tours available at an extra cost.


Sunset over the Mekong River

If you time your visit to the botanical gardens right, you can arrive back in Luang Prabang in time to catch the sunset over the Mekong River. As well as atop Mount Pou Si, there are some other great spots to watch the sunset over the Mekong River. They include: on the wooden deck of one of the local beer bars at the end of the Mekong River road; on the bamboo bridge, (10,000 kip (£0.95) toll; or on Mekong Beach at the confluence of the Mekong River and Nam Khan Rivers. Find yourself a comfy spot and sit back, and relax with an ice cold Beer Lao, cocktail or soft drink and enjoy the view. Don’t forget your camera for those sunset shots.

Sin Dad Traditional Laos Barbeque

I haven’t spoken much about food in this itinerary because there’s so much choice in Luang Prabang and everyone has different preferences. However, there is one Lao food experience I recommend you try – Sin Dad the traditional Laos Barbeque.
Sin Dad traditional Lao barbeque in Luang Prabang, Laos
There are several restaurants in town where you can try Sin Dad at both ends of the price scale. However, for a truly authentic Lao Sin Dad opt for one of the back street local eateries. After all, it’s where the locals go which has to count for something.
I went to Khem Khan Sin Dad with three other people I’d met at the forum on the recommendation of one of them who had been before. It’s on Kingkitsarath Road, an alleyway just past Apsara Hotel opposite the Nam Khan River. It may not look much from the outside and yes, it is a very simple affair BUT it was amazing. The meat was good quality and delicious, they catered for vegetarians, and at only 50,000 kip (£4.80) for one set (enough for three or four people) it’s a bargain!


Petanque and Bowling

If you’re still able to move after all that food you could finish your night off with a trip to a local petanque court or ten-pin bowling alley.
Locals playing petanque inn Luang Prabang, Laos
Then, if you’re not ready to hit the hay just yet head to the local bowling alley. Everywhere else in the city shuts around 11:00 pm to give the locals time to sleep and prepare for the early morning Tak Bat next day. Just outside of town in the middle of nowhere, this big Western-style bowling alley is Luang Prabang’s only nightlife option and has a late alcohol license until around 3:00 am. Any tuk tuk driver should take you for 5,000 – 10,000 kip (£0.47 – £0.95). A game of bowling costs 20,000 kip. I personally didn’t make it here but spoke to others who did. A little pre-warning, it sounds as if it gets quite busy after 11:00 pm and of course not much serious bowling goes on. So if a few drinks and a bit of a party isn’t your thing you may want to give this one a miss!

Luang Prabang Hotels

I was hosted for the four nights of the Mekong Tourism Forum 2017 by the Mekong Tourism Board and Muang Thong Hotel and for my final two nights in Luang Prabang by My Dream Boutique Resort. Read more in our full Product Review Disclosure.

Muang Thong Hotel

Muang Thong Hotel has four, two-storey buildings standing set around a swimming pool and courtyardMuang Thong Hotel in Luang Prabang, Laos
Deluxe Room at Muang Thong Hotel in Luang Prabang, Laos
As I was busy with the forum I didn’t have time to try out the pool or relax in my room or on the balcony. This was a shame as they both looked lovely. There’s a restaurant next to reception but I only managed a rushed breakfast one morning of vegetable, noodle soup which kept me going until lunchtime.


My Dream Boutique Resort

My Dream Boutique Resort tucked away on the banks of the Nam Khan river on the opposite side to the centre of Luang Prabang. All the resort buildings and facilities are all at one end of a large, well-kept garden and lawn which stretches all the way down to the river.
The resort has a selection of rooms ranging from their Classic, which costs $69 USD (£53 USD) to their Villa-suite, which costs $135 USD (£104) in low season (prices rise in high season). All the rooms are simple but attractively decorated in natural colours and materials such as wood, stone and bamboo.
Garden Bungalow at My Dream Boutique Resort in Luang Prabang, Laos
Swimming pool at My Dream Boutique Resort in Luang Prabang, Laos
Despite the resort being on the ‘wrong’ side of the river, I didn’t find this to be an inconvenience at all. It was very close to the toll bamboo bridge which you need to cross to reach the centre, which is only a 15 to 20-minute walk. Be sure to take a torch with you if you go out at night as there lighting on the bridge is not bright. It’s location also meant it was a peaceful place to stay. An added bonus of the resort is the free bicycles available for guests to use.
I thought this was a wonderful little resort. The staff especially helped make my stay enjoyable. They were always friendly and on hand when needed but on the same note, not intrusive. I’d highly recommend this especially if you want somewhere peaceful to relax at the beginning or end of your trip.

Other Hotel Options in Luang Prabang

If you’re looking for accommodation that’s cheaper or closer to town there are plenty of other accommodation options in Luang Prabang:

Other Activities

Should you have the luxury of some extra time to spend in Luang Prabang there are several other things to see and do including:

  • Pak Ou (Buddha) Caves – these limestone caves are filled with over 4000 Buddha statues. They can be reached via a two-hour boat trip from Luang Prabang. This can be arranged through an agency or buy your own ticket at the boat dock.
  • Rice Experience – spend a morning at the Living Land Farm for a hands-on experience to learn how rice is planted, grown and harvested. They also offer a homestay.
  • Elephant Project Visit – there are several options to visit or volunteer at elephant projects in Laos.  Make sure you choose an ethical one like the Elephant Conservation Center which is about two hours away from the city.
  • Cookery Class – learn how to make traditional Lao cuisine in one of the many classes on offer in and around the city.
  • Pamper Yourself – go for a traditional Lao massage or other treatment in one of the spas or massage parlours in the city.

A quick search on Google or TripAdvisor will bring up lots of options for cookery classes and spas for you to choose from. Get Your Guide also has some great unique experiences you can do.


Slow Boat Cruise on the Mekong River

Finally, if time is no issue or you are simply ready to relax you could take a slow boat cruise on the Mekong. There are many options ranging from half-day trips to multi-day trips which can be booked online, or through your hotel or an agency.
As part of the MTF 2017 I was hosted on a post-forum cruise with Mekong CruisesLuang Say River Cruise from Luang Prabang to Pakbeng
Luang Say Lodge in Pakbeng, Laos
I had to leave the group next morning to continue my journey North, so, unfortunately, That meant I missed out on the overland trip back to Luang Prabang, despite this I really enjoyed the first day and evening. One thing to note is that the cruise upriver takes eleven hours which is a very long day. However, if all you want to do is sit back and relax with a book and watch the scenery pass by, it’s perfect. It’s also a great option for onward travel towards Thailand, especially if you’re heading to Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai
So that’s my suggested itinerary for 3 days in Luang Prabang. There are also some added extras should you have more time on your hands.

3 Day Luang Prabang Itinerary, Laos - City View

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Have you been to Luang Prabang? Have I missed anything out of this itinerary or additional activities?

P.S. You can read more about my time in Laos via the following link: 


Product Review Disclosure: Muang Thong Hotel (and Mekong Tourism Board) and My Dream Boutique Resort hosted my stays. I also participated in some activities mentioned as part of the Mekong Tourism Forum 2017. This did not influence my post in any way and as always I’ve provided balanced and honest reviews. 

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37 thoughts on “3-Day Luang Prabang Itinerary | Laos

  1. amaixico

    The slow boat cruise, the temples, the food and all your photos inspired me to visit Laos. Your guide is going to be really helpful. Thank you!

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      Yes us too – the local markets are usually one of the first places we hunt out. Those waterfalls were definitely some of the prettiest I’ve seen before.

  2. Kathleen (Kat) (@katpegimana)

    I had a great time in Luang Prabang post-MTF2018 (Nakhon Phanom) and I wondered, why didn’t I visit the town sooner?! It’s so lovely, I would love to go back again to LP, hopefully in 2019 🙂

  3. Roy Stevenson

    Excellent travel writing Tanya. I’ve just got back from LP and did most of the sights you recommend, with a couple of substitutions. I believe that LP is one of SE Asia’s remaining undiscovered gems; a perfect place to chill out in almost disneyesque surrounds. My wife & I enjoyed it so much that we plan on returning, for a week or so. It’s a great place to relax and has enough attractions to make it interesting. Nice work!
    One question for you, if I may? I got an in citation to the tourism conference that you attended and decided not o attend, in favor of one coming up in Singapore next month. Was the LP conference worth attending? And what did you get out of it?

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      Thank you – it really is nice to spend some time relaxing and a really attractive city.

      I personally really enjoyed the Tourism Forum, however, it’s the first one I’ve been too – so it was also all quite a novelty. As for what I got out of it I tried to attend the breakout sessions on topics I’m particularly interested in such as ecotourism, food, and culture. This gave me lots of opportunities to learn more about the Mekong region. It was also a great networking event and I made lots of valuable contacts (and friends) in the Tourism industry and blogging world. I thought it was well worth it.

      Which conference are you attending in Singapore?

  4. Suruchi

    Quite Well written, detailed post on Luang Prabang. We liked your itinerary. The cruise experience will be great and the Muang Thong Hotel and Dream boutique hotel both look cozy. The Temple and Palace both have amazing architecture. I will love to visit this place in future.

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      Thankyou – I’m glad you liked it – the hotels were both lovely I really enjoyed the architecture too.

  5. Sandy N Vyjay

    Luang Prabang is indeed a revelation. There is really so much to see and experience in this charming place. The temples are so enchanting and remind me of the temples of Thailand, so does the Palace. I love the fact that there is so much of nature also to be explored including the lovely waterfalls and the Bear rescue centre.

  6. Married With Passports

    I would love to have the opportunity to experience that beautiful waterfall! It’s something that I always love doing whenever I’m in such a place, waterfalls have a certain mesmerising beauty in them that makes me love them so much 🙂

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      It’s one of the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve seen so far, definitely not the biggest but the colour was amazing!

  7. Blaine is Lost

    This post is truly comprehensive and informative. All things that you want to see and do in Luang Prabang are all here in this travel guide. I find this place in northern Laos filled with myriads of beautiful attractions. The markets are interesting and peculiar at the same time because of their unusual items for sale like what you mentioned in this post. I was a bit sadden by the fact that there are endangered animals like turtles being sold on that place. The temples are also fascinating because of their unique design and their traditional barbecue (Sin Dad) looks similar on how a Korean restaurant operates wherein the customers have to cook the meat on grills installed on every table. The bears are also adorable and I am glad that there’s a sanctuary for them since it will be dangerous for them if they will live in the wild. I will use this post for my future travels if in case I will visit Luang Prabang 🙂

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      Glad you found it useful; it is sad about the endangered animals on sale at the morning market! Hopefully that will stop soon!

  8. neha

    Laos does have a lot to offer. I personally liked your itinerary a lot. Because it starts with a visit to a holy place. And then it includes shopping on day 1 🙂 I will remember to do all these things when i visit here.

  9. At The Roundabout

    After my partner and I went to visit Cambodia and Vietnam, he’s always been bugging me about choosing Laos as our next destination. I agreed to him without knowing what exactly to expect, or even what to do in Laos. Reading your blog post was a big help. At least now I know there are tons to explore there. Thanks for this. And by the way, that photo of the Kuang Si Waterfall screams of exquisite beauty. Loved it!

  10. Ashley

    Southeast Asia is such a great experience, it seems like you filled your time with amazing activities. That waterfall has me absolutely swooning, but I’m definitely a waterfall chaser. Glad you had a fun time!

  11. Abbi @ Spin the Windrose

    I haven’t yet made it to Laos (I’ve only been to Thailand and Cambodia in SE Asia) – but I’m desperate to go, it looks so beautiful! This is such an informative post and I will save it for a future trip.That waterfall is gorgeous!

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      I can highly recommend it, I just wished I’d had more time in the country. I hope to go back and visit the South whilst I’m still out this way living in Cambodia as it’s so close! Glad you found the post informative!

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      The slow boat cruise was very relaxing…just remember to take a good book as it’s verrry long!

  12. Eva

    Great summary for Luang Prabang. I was there in March and wish I had read your suggestions beforehand. I did the biggest most popular stuff but now i have a few more things to see and do 🙂

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      Thankyou. There’s so much to do there and nearby you could easily spend a couple of weeks and not get bored 🙂

  13. This Big Wild World

    I really enjoyed Luang Prabang! The morning market is fascinating. I did take the boat ride to the Buddha Cave…and our boat brokedown. We made it back after sunset ha ha. But, the sunset view from the river was pretty beautiful. Great post!

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      Yes it’s a really nice city isn’t it, nightmare your boat breaking down – at least you made it back! Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  14. jin

    I was attracted to this post because I was in Luang Prabang back in March! I loved it there and had a great time! Looks like we did some of the same things. Thanks for taking me down memory lane! Awesome post.

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      It’s such a nice place, you could easily spend alot of time there. Glad you liked the post 🙂

  15. Shristi Jain / This Epic World

    I’d never even heard about Luang Prabang until I came across your article. The temple looks absolutely gorgeous and the Kuang Si waterfall is breathtaking! :O

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