Heading off the beaten track? Make a short getaway to Luang Prabang: every traveller’s dream destination with stunning nature and plenty of history
Bali; Koh Samui; Ho Chi Minh; we’ve all been there and done that. But for times when you want to escape the crowds and head off the beaten track, there’s one place in South East Asia fits the bill: Luang Prabang in Laos. Brimming with colonial architecture, charm, colour, and a distinctly laidback vibe, this UNESCO World Heritage city is a true hidden gem that few have ventured to yet. Always on the lookout for memorable holiday experiences, our friends at Lightfoot Travel have already scoured the streets of Luang Prabang and let us in on a couple of their faves.
Luang Prabang is one of the most spiritual places in South East Asia, so don’t expect a hardcore party scene here. Instead, prepare for a wonderfully laidback vibe and a complete cultural immersion.
Whilst in LP, experiencing an alms-giving ceremony (a highly revered local ritual which dates back to the 14th century) is an absolute must! Each morning, monks depart from various temples to gather their daily meal from locals, who in exchange, hope for some karmic credit.
What Laos lacks in pristine beaches and coastlines, it more than makes up for it with a stunning landscape – one of it being the famed Kuang Si waterfall. Located 30 kilometres Southwest of Luang Prabang, Tat Kuan Si is home to a impressive array tiered waterfalls, where you can frolic around and take in the scenic views of the jungle.
Once you’ve covered those, the mighty Mekong River beckons. Hop on board the Luang Say Cruise, which takes its guests all the way to the Northern Thai border on a magnificent Pak Ou boat.
Housed in gorgeous French colonial buildings, Amantaka is the ultimate luxury splurge. Situated along the banks of the Mekong River and within walking distance from the city’s square, the hotel is an elegant option that reflects the town’s colonial French history. Amantaka also offers a great river cruise, which takes place aboard a traditional boat with hands-on staff serving drinks and canapés. Quite simply, the perfect way to enjoy a sundowner.
For a boutique option, nothing beats the charm and service of Satri House. Once the former residence of Prince Soupha-nouvong, it was refurbished and converted in 2002 into a chic yet homey boutique space.
No trip to Luang Prabang would be complete without a visit to Muang La Resort for an authentic Laotian village experience. Located on the edge of a traditional village in the North of Laos, the rustic retreat (a scenic five-hour drive from the city) lets visitors explore unchartered parts of the country; by foot, mountain bike, 4×4 or boat.
With its rich French heritage, it would be a shame to miss out on French cuisine whilst in Luang Prabang. Housed in a chic 60’s colonial building, L’Elephant serves up traditional but also creative French and Laotian cuisine with produce straight from their garden; from the home-made charcuterie to duck breast roasted with “Mak Toum”.
To savour authentic Lao food, our go-to dining spot is Tamarind. Tuck into tasty jeow, Mok Pa, Kaao and Tamarind’s specialty: lemongrass stuffed with chicken & herbs. Don’t be afraid to dig in with your hands as you sample their staple sticky rice, it’s how the locals enjoy their food. If you are won over by their food – which we’re sure you will be – make time for a cooking class in their picturesque lakeside pavilions.
A definite can’t-miss is Le Tangor, an exclusive yet cosy restaurant helmed by the former chef at Muang La. With its reputation as one of the best restaurants in the city, there’s no doubt that Le Tangor’s superb mix of French and Lao fine-dining cuisine with cap off your Luang Prabang experience on the right note.
This article was brought to you by Lightfoot Travel, a Singapore-based luxury tour operator offering expert travel advice & inspiration, tailor-made itineraries & full booking services.