How to Spend 48 Hours in Luang Prabang, Laos
Arguably one of Laos’s most coveted is Luang Prabang. Backpackers love venturing to this incredible city regardless of the trek they must make to reach this northern destination. From waterfalls to delicious cuisine and more, there are so many things to see and do in Luang Prabang. Keep reading to find out how you can fill two incredible days here.
Before visiting Laos, be sure to check out Mad Monkey’s complete backpacker’s travel information to the country!
Morning: Arrive in Luang Prabang and Check Into Your Accommodation Option
Luckily for visitors, Luang Prabang is equipped with an airport: the Luang Prabang International Airport (LPQ). It only just recently opened in 2013 but makes traveling to this city a breeze! Many visitors also arrive here by bus from around the country.
After arriving, check into your accommodation option. Guesthouses and hostels are incredibly cheap, and many include free breakfast, wi-fi, and more. Be sure to check out some of our favorite accommodation options below!
- Sunrise Riverside Pool Hostel
- Souk Lan Xang Guest House
- Smile Luang Prabang Hostel
- Mad Monkey Hostel Luang Prabang (COMING SOON!)
For more information about where to stay in Laos, be sure to check out Mad Monkey Hostel’s complete accommodation guide to this incredible country!
Afternoon: Visit the Kuang Si Waterfalls
After what was likely a long travel day, it’s time to cool off in the Kuang Si Waterfalls. While Southeast Asia has its fair share of falls, the Kuang Si in Luang Prabang are sure to wow all visitors who make the trek here. Be sure to bring your swimsuit as the falls are equipped with plenty of turquoise pools at each tier of the Kuang Si Waterfalls. You can also pack a lunch and eat at one of the many picnic tables that line the falls near the first tiers.
How to get there
The Kuang Si Waterfalls are about 29 kilometers south of the city. It is open daily for visitors to come to enjoy from 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. There is a 20,000 kip entrance fee (approximately $2.29), and visitors should plan on spending at least a few hours exploring the waterfalls.
What to Bring
Before venturing to the Kuang Si Waterfall, be sure to check off this list of important items you’ll definitely need on your Laos adventure!
- Swimsuit, towel, and dry bag
- Gopro or camera phone in a waterproof case (you don’t want to miss out on taking a few photos - they are truly stunning)
- Strappy and sturdy sandals that are good for both hiking and swimming
- Snacks and water (in a reusable water bottle, of course)
- Bug spray
- A few friends!
Evening: Shop ‘Til You Drop at the Night Market
The Luang Prabang Night Market is a must-visit shopping bazaar in the city. A trip to this city isn’t complete without having first meandered down the narrow street with loads of goods made by locals and artisans on either side. The market kicks off at about 5 p.m., and no vehicles are allowed on this street as soon vendors come and put their goods on display. This is the perfect place to pick up a few souvenirs for friends and family back home, as well!
Be sure to check out some of our list of some of our favorite items that you need to purchase before leaving the Luang Prabang Night Market!
- Beer Lao gear (from t-shirts to coozies, this market has it all)
- Silver products
- Coffee products
- Bamboo products
- Sinh (traditional Laos skirt)
- Textiles and silk items (the scarves are especially beautiful)
The market is found on Settathilat and Sisavangvong Roads in the center of the city.
Be sure to avoid getting scammed at this market and all throughout Laos with the help of Mad Monkey’s complete guide on how to avoid being scammed!
Morning: Wake up to see the Alms Giving Ceremony
Kick-start your day by witnessing an incredible tribute to the country’s main religion on Luang Prabang’s main road. The Alms giving ceremony is a Buddhist ritual takes place every morning in the UNESCO-protected city. Also known as Tak Bat, this ceremony dates back to the 14th century. It is here you’ll witness hundreds of monks gathering for their first daily meal.
Some Tips Before Going to the Alms Giving Ceremony
- The Alms giving ceremony is a sacred one and should be treated as such.
- Be sure to cover up your shoulders, chest, and legs.
- Do not touch the monks.
- While it’s fine to get a few photographs or two, be sure to do so in a respectful manner that doesn’t disrupt the ceremony!
Afternoon: Venture to the Pak Ou Caves
The Pak Ou Caves are limestone ones that overlook the mighty Mekong River. The Pak Ou Caves actually consist of two caves: Tham Tiang and Tham Theung. Both are filled with thousands of iconic Buddha images and sit right alongside the river’s murky banks. It is estimated that there are actually over 6,000 Buddha images in both of them combined.
How to get to the Pak Ou Caves
The Pak Ou Caves are found about 25 kilometers outside of the city center. Visitors can actually get there by boat, and it takes about two hours on the Mekong River to arrive. You can book a private boat or hop on a tourist boat. You can also get a car or tuk-tuk to the nearest town before getting on a boat to finally arrive (just to cross the river). There is a 20,000 kip (approximately $2.29) entrance fee to get both caves.
Taking the boat ride to the Pak Ou Caves will surely be one of the highlights of your trip to Luang Prabang, Laos!
Meander the Temples in the City Center
If you have time after visiting the Pak Ou Caves, be sure to check out the main temples and other stunning structures in the Luang Prabang city center and on its outskirts. Our favorites include:
- Wat Mai
- Wat Xieng Thong
- Wat Visunnalat
- Wat Xieng Muan
- Wat Choumkhong
- Wat Wisunalat
- Wat Aham
- Wat Kili
- Wat Sen
**Wat means temple!
Evening: Dine on a Traditional Laos Meal
Laos food is normally grilled or steamed, making it one of the healthier countries in which to dine in! The cuisine here, as in most countries, greatly differs depending on the region you are in. Even if you’ve dined in other cities around Laos, Luang Prabang’s cuisine is likely to be different than anything you’ve ever tried in other parts of the country!
The main ingredients used in many of Laos dishes are fish, meat, vegetables, and herbs. Most of the dishes are served with khao niew, or sticky rice (this is also how you say sticky rice in Thai). Laos cuisine is normally served family style. Locals will sit on a large mat and pass the food amongst themselves. Be sure to check out some of the most delicious local dishes below!
- Laab (minced meat salad)
- Papaya Salad
- Grilled River Fish
- Mango with Sticky Rice and Coconut Milk
In addition to the best local dishes, be sure to check out some of our favorite restaurants that you can’t miss out on indulging at while visiting Luang Prabang in Laos.
What is the Best Time to Visit Luang Prabang, Laos?
The best time to visit Laos is anywhere from November to January. At nighttime, it tends to get a bit chillier but still boasts of warm weather all day long.
Temperatures reach their highest in April, similar to neighboring Southeast Asian countries Thailand and Cambodia. Be sure to avoid Laos during the rainy season, which is usually from May to September.
If you have a few weeks to spend in Laos, be sure to check out Mad Monkey’s 14-day itinerary to this incredible country!
More Information About Luang Prabang, Laos
Did you love this article about the top things to see and do in beautiful Luang Prabang? Do you want even more information about this incredible city and what to do when visiting Laos? Then be sure to read the following articles we have rounded up so that you can make the best use of your time in this incredible country.
- Everything You Need To Know About Luang Prabang for Hotels.com
Luang Prabang, Laos, in three days: holiday itinerary for The Guardian
- 10 awesome things to do in Luang Prabang, Laos for The Common Wanderer
- The Best Things to do in Laos: a Full Itinerary by Kristen for Be My Travel Muse
Coming Soon: Mad Monkey Hostel Luang Prabang
Mad Monkey Hostels, a socially responsible hostel chain located in Southeast Asia and beyond, recently announced that they are opening a property in the Northern Laos city of Luang Prabang! It is scheduled to open in October 2019 and will offer tours to the Kuang Si Waterfalls, Pak Ou Caves, and so much more! Follow its Facebook to keep up with all this hostel has to offer, more details about its launch date, and more.
Article by Kelly Iverson