Kuang Si Falls
The Kuang Si Falls are one of the most popular excursions near the city of Luang Prabang.
Visitors can explore the three tiers of Kuang Si Falls via several walking trails that wind through the jungle. Turquoise water cascades into picture perfect pools that are often filled with travelers and locals looking to escape the warm daytime temperatures. As visitors approach the area they see the final tier of the Kuang Si Falls is a 200 foot cascade that pours into a large swimming hole framed by a pair of foot bridges. From here, it’s easy to take a network of trails that wander through the jungle to the higher levels of the falls. The higher ranges of the falls are usually less crowded, and have spectacular views of the surrounding countryside as well as a number of perfect swimming holes.
The Kuang Si Butterfly Park is located just before the path that leads to the falls. Visitors can take a guided walking tour of the beautiful netted gardens to learn about the hundreds of species of butterflies that inhabit Laos.
Best Time to Visit Kuang Si Falls: Visit the area between November and May for the best sightseeing weather. As warmer weather blows through in June, the Kuang Si Falls become an increasingly popular destination among both the local population and travelers. The warmer weather continues through October, and the extra rain fall that comes during the latter half of the year makes the Kuang Si Falls and the surrounding forests particularly beautiful.
How to get to Kuang Si Falls: The Kuang Si Falls are about 12 miles from the city of Luang Prabang in north central Laos. The area is typically reached overland in a private vehicle while on a Laos tour, but a cruise up the Mekong River to the area is excellent alternative to the land route.
Kuang Si Falls Highlights: The Kuang Si Falls are one of the most popular day trips outside the city of Luang Prabang. A splendid location to beat the daytime heat anytime of the year, the falls are one of the most beautiful locations in Luang Prabang Province, and should not be missed on a luxury tour of Laos.
Appropriate Attire: Swimwear is recommended. Bring a good pair of shoes if you’d like to explore the trails that lead to the other tiers of the waterfalls.
Mount Phou Si
A high hill capped by a glittering Buddhist shrine, Mount Phou Si (sometimes Phousi or Phu Si) is the city of Luang Prabang’s central landmark.
Local legends tell of a powerful naga, a snakelike animist spirit often associated with Buddhism in Southeast Asia, which once inhabited the hill. Today, the sacred hill is best known for the golden shrine that caps the summit, That Chomsi, and the stunning views of Luang Prabang and the city’s surrounding countryside.
There are multiple paths to ascend Mount Phou Si, but climbing the 329 stone steps of the northern route is the most popular way for travelers to reach the summit. Wat Tham Phou Si is about halfway along the path to the top, and the temple is a great place to rest before finishing the climb to the top.
Best Time to Visit Mount Phou Si: The climb to the summit of Mount Phou Si best made in the early morning or late afternoon to catch the majestic views during dawn or sunset. The area’s cooler dry season between November and May has the best sightseeing weather. As June rolls in so do higher temperatures, which, along with increased chances of rain, continue through October.
How to get to Mount Phou Si: Mount Phou Si is the city of Luang Prang’s central feature rising from the middle of the city like a crown. The summit can be reached from several different paths that run through the forests on the sides of the sacred hill.
Mount Phou Si Highlights: Beautiful Buddhist temples and stunning views await travelers on mount Phou Shi. It’s a must-see while exploring the ancient city of Luang Prabang on a luxury tour of Laos.
Appropriate Attire: As you’ll be visiting several Buddhist temples as part of your explorations of Mount Phousi, it’s best to dress in modest clothing that covers thighs and shoulders for this excursio
Pak Ou Caves
The Pak Ou Caves are a centuries old Buddhist pilgrimage sight near Luang Prabang that act as a kind of graveyard for damaged and decayed Buddha images.
For hundreds of years, the Buddhist inhabitants of north central Laos have made the often arduous journey along the Mekong River to deposit worn and broken Buddha images in a sacred cave. Today, after unbroken centuries of the practice, more than 3,000 statues rest inside two of the numerous limestone caves that riddle the bank. The images range from tiny teakwood carvings that might have once occupied a shrine in a larger household to human-sized figures that could have been central shrine images.
The Pak Ou Caves are the busiest during Laos New Year, when the largest numbers of pilgrims visit the ancient shrine. Though damaged, the images of Buddha are still highly venerated, and thousands of pilgrims spend the festival carefully washing the ancient religious icons in a reverent ceremony believed to bring spiritual merit to the devout.
Best Time to Visit Pak Ou Caves: The best sightseeing weather in north central Laos is during the temperate season that runs from November to May. Temperatures begin to climb in June, and the heat continues into October. The extra rainfall that comes with the higher temperatures during the second half of the year restores the verdant countryside of Laos to a lustrous green.
How to get to Pak Ou Caves: The Pak Ou Caves are about 5 miles north of Luang Prabang along the Mekong River. While it is possible to reach the caves overland, a boat cruise along the Mekong River is the preferred method for guests on our luxury tours of Laos to reach the destination.
Pak Ou Caves Highlights: The caves have an intriguing atmosphere that’s become a beacon for travelers coming through the area. A lazy boat cruise along the Mekong is the preferred route for most tourists to reach the area, and the relaxing journey up the calm river is often referred to as the highlight of the journey.
Appropriate Attire: Dress for warm weather in light clothing, but remember the cave is sacred to Buddhist practitioners, and visitors should wear clothing that covers their shoulders, arms, and thighs while walking on holy ground.
Royal Palace Museum
The Royal Palace Museum is Luang Prabang’s main repository of cultural and royal artifacts.
Usually referred to as Haw Kham (The Golden Hall), The Royal Palace Museum was erected by the French between 1904 and 1909 for King Sisavang Vong and his family while Laos was under the protection of French Indochina. Forgoing the traditional Laotian building materials of teak and rosewoods, the palace is mostly a brick and mortar structure with accents derived from traditional Laotian designs.
The compound occupies the center of a spacious garden riddled with palm trees and decorative plants. Though the building is just over a century old, its displays reach much further into the annals of Laotian history. Visitors can admire excellent displays of weapons, statues, paintings, and personal items left by the royal family. The Throne Hall contains the country’s crown jewels, and the Haw Pha Bang royal chapel houses the country’s paramount Buddha image, believed to be over 2,000 years old, and seen as the guardian spirit of Laos.
Best Time to Visit Royal Palace Museum: The cooler, dry season between November and May has the best sightseeing weather for exploring Laos. Higher temperatures arrive with the beginning of the rainy season in June and continue into October, but the rain showers that are common during this period provide a welcome relief from the heat.
How to get to Royal Palace Museum: The Royal Palace Museum is located in the former royal capital of Luang Prabang in central Northern Laos. Our guests typically reach the compound along with their English speaking guide in a private vehicle after being picked up at their hotel.
Royal Palace Museum Highlights: History, art, and cultural enthusiasts appreciate the Royal Palace Museum the most, but no luxury tour of Laos would be complete without the insightful look into recent and ancient history the museum provides its visitors.
Appropriate Attire: The royal Palace Museum has a strict dress code requiring visitors to dress in clothing that covers shoulders to thighs. Areas within the compound may require you to remove your shoes before entering.
Wat Wisunarat (Wat Visoun) is a Buddhist temple in Luang Prabang that dates back to the early 16th century.
Founded in 1513 by King Visoun, the temple’s central feature is a rounded stupa made from brick and mortar. The gourd-like profile of the shrine, almost unheard of in Laos, earned it the nickname “The Watermelon Stupa.”
During the Haw Wars that swept through much of Southeast Asia during the 19th century, Luang Prabang was taken by a band of raiders, who were rebel soldiers turned bandits after the Taiping Rebellion in China. Called “Black Flag Riders” because of their preference of using black signal flags for cavalry maneuvers, the raiders extensively looted and burned the city, razing all but a handful of the city’s beautiful Buddhist shrines and temples to the ground. Wat Wisunarat faired particularly poorly, and was left in ruin until restoration work was carried out by the French in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Best Time to Visit Wat Wisunarat: The weather in Laos is generally the best between November and May during the country’s long dry season. Temperatures begin to climb in June as the rainy season takes hold of the land. The increased temperatures and chances of rain last through October, but the extra precipitation during these months turns the nation’s forests a vibrant green hue.
How to get to Wat Wisunarat: Wat Wisunarat is located in the city of Luang Prabang in north central Laos. Our guests typically reach the temple on foot or in a private vehicle alongside their guide depending on their itinerary for the day.
Wat Wisunarat Highlights: While not as well preserved or restored as other Buddhist sanctuaries in Luang Prabang, Wat Wisunarat has plenty of charm. Its unique architecture and intriguing history make it an excellent stop for any luxury tour of Laos.
Appropriate Attire: As Wat Wisunarat is an active Buddhist temple, it’s important for travelers to dress appropriately in modest attire in keeping with local traditions. Clothes that cover at least shoulders and thighs are a must, and some areas in the compound will require guests to remove their shoes before crossing the threshold.
Rain or shine, the Buddhist monks that inhabit the city of Luang Prabang in Northern Laos perform an ancient alms ritual called Tak Bat. Hundreds of monks spend their morning quietly collecting donations of rice, vegetables, and the occasional small denominations of money to sustain them.
Usually starting just before dawn, the orange-clad monks can easily be spotted as they quietly walk throughout the city collecting donations from both the locals and an ever increasing number of travelers wanting to participate in this intriguing ancient ritual.
Best Time to Visit Tak Bat: Tak Bat takes place every morning in the city of Luang Prabang, typically starting around 5:30 a.m.
How to get to Tak Bat: The Tak Bat ritual takes place daily across the city of Luang Prabang.
Tak Bat Highlights: This ancient alms ritual has proved increasingly popular with travelers of all stripes in recent years. Often cited as a highlight of a Laos vacation, Tak Bat is a unique chance for cultural immersion that should not be missed. That being said, travelers should take extra care to be respectful during the service as Tak Bat is an integral part of the city’s monastic system, as well as cornerstone of the laypeople’s faith in Luang Prabang.
Appropriate Attire: Please take extra care to dress appropriately in clothing that covers shoulders, arms, and knees while watching or participating in Tak Bat to keep from offending the monks or their supporters.
Patuxai is a war memorial commemorating Laotians who died in combat.
Modeled after the Arc De Triomphe in Paris, the Patuxai is a concrete structure with four arched gateways adorned with traditional Laotian designs and sculptures. The monument rests in the center of a roundabout lined with palm trees. A shallow reflecting pool with dancing fountains rings the structure.
Walking through the archways gives visitors access to Patuxai’s upper levels via two staircases. A visitors’ center occupies the second floor of the structure, and the third contains a museum that’s worth a look, but the real draw to the structure is the views of the city from the four corner towers.
The Patuxai monument was completed in 1968 using money and materials donated by the U.S. government to build a new airport. This small slight by the former royal government of Laos earned the structure the nickname “The Vertical Runway.”
Best Time to Visit Laos Patuxai: Laos’s weather is generally the best between November and May during the dry season. June is marked by elevating temperatures and increased chances of sudden rains that continue into October.
How to get to Laos Patuxai: Patuxai is located in a roundabout in the middle of Lane Xang Road not far from the Presidential Palace in Vientiane’s business district. Guests on our luxury tours of Laos can reach the monument in a private vehicle with their English speaking guide while touring the city of Vientiane.
Laos Patuxai Highlights: Patuxai is an intriguing blend of French architecture and Laotian style. The manicured park grounds and beautiful lotus pools make for an excellent stroll in the afternoons, but the real draw is the view of Vientiane from the four towers.
Appropriate Attire: Dress in light clothing, and wear a pair of good shoes to make the climb up the stairs to Patuxai’s tower.
Pha That Luang
Pha That Luang is the city of Vientiane’s most iconic Buddhist shrine and temple.
The structure was first erected over the remains of a 12th century Khmer Empire Hindu sanctuary in 1566 at the behest of King Setthathirath when he moved his court from the former capital of Luang Prabang.
Over the course of the next three centuries, Vientiane was repeatedly sacked by invaders from neighboring kingdoms. After a successful invasion in 1828, the Kingdom of Siam (Thailand) sacked the city and its temples, and left the entire area in ruins to be reclaimed by the jungle. French colonial architects attempted to rebuild the structure in 1900, but the building works failed because of poor design. A second attempt in the 1930s succeeded, but after an air raid during the Franco-Thai War in 1940, Pha That Luang had to be rebuilt again.
The temple’s central feature is a 146-foot-heigh stupa painted in gold thought to contain a bone relic left from the cremation ceremony of Buddha. The shrine is thought to have been originally covered in gold, but the precious metals were likely removed during any one of the numerous invasions that struck the city of Vientiane between the 16th and 19th centuries. Hundreds of Buddha statues line the interior of the compound’s walls.
Best Time to Visit Pha That Luang: In general, Laos’s weather is the best for sightseeing during the cooler dry months between November and May. The temperature begins to rise in June, and the hotter weather comes with increased chances of rain that last into October.
How to get to Pha That Luang: Pha That Luang is located in Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Our guests typically reach the Buddhist temple and shrine in a private vehicle with their English speaking guide while exploring Vientiane on a tour of Laos.
Pha That Luang Highlights: Phat That Luang occupies a place in Laotian culture as a symbol of perseverance. It’s a must-see sight on any luxury tour of Laos.
Appropriate Attire: Laos is predominately Buddhist, and both sexes tend to dress modestly in clothing that covers shoulders to ankles. When visiting Buddhist temples in the country, it’s best to dress modestly in keeping with local traditions.