Luang Prabang is a very interesting and beautiful cultural destination nested in Laos. It is probably the most visited city in Laos. But, comparatively to other South East Asian countries, Laos remains off the beaten track for many travelers and Luang Prabang’s charm is well preserved. You will also get a taste of the old Indochine French colony. Most of the city is a UNESCO site. In addition to its famous temples the city offers many activities from nice walks to more adventurous expeditions around Luang Prabang. It would be a good destination for a 3 day weekend if you just plan to visit the city but given the flight options it’s best to stay a bit longer (Friday afternoon to Wednesday morning) to enjoy the fastest transfers and lowest fares.
How accessible is it from Singapore?
Getting there is not that simple as there are very few direct flights (not every day) and they are quite pricey (code share with Lao airlines and Silkair. There are cheaper and longer alternatives with a connection in Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok (Airasia). The best deal is to fly Lao Airlines on the Friday afternoon and come back on the Wednesday morning.
The total door-to-door journey from (your home/office in) Singapore to your hotel in Khao Lak will take you about 6 hours and 15 minutes. This estimate includes the flights (Lao Airlines on Friday/Wednesday), connections and taxi transfers.
How much is this going to cost us?
Laos is a cheap destination in terms of food, accommodation and activities. It’s actually great value in most places. However Luang Prabang is getting a bit touristy and prices go up.
Transport wise, the total return trip will cost about SGD 665 for 2 persons. This estimate includes flights and taxi transfers if you fly with Lao airlines on the Friday afternoon and back on the Wednesday morning. If you fly Silkair or other airlines to come back on the Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, the flights will be much more expensive.
Accommodation wise, you will find a wide range of options: from cheap guesthouses (from SGD 20 a night) to very luxurious hotels (up to SGD 500 a night).
How remote and risky is it?
Laos is not very developed overall but Luang Prabang welcome many tourists. Medical infrastructure is not exceptional and you would probably want to fly to Bangkok (frequent flights) in case of serious problems.
What about the kids?
Luang Prabang is a nice quiet and somewhat touristy city. The city offers some kids friendly activities however some may be available for adults.
When should we go?
Connections from Luang Prabang
Vientiane is a good choice to combine your trip with a visit of Lao capital city. You could also go to Pakse to explore the Plain of Jars. There are flights to Bangkok and Hanoi as well.
Did you know?
There is a tourist curfew in Luang Prabang. You will need to be back at your hotel by 11.30 PM. So don’t plan to go crazy on the dancefloor in Luang Prabang.
Getting from Singapore to Luang Prabang
At the moment the most affordable and fastest option is to fly with Lao Airlines on the Friday afternoon and come back on the Wednesday morning. Other flights are much more expensive and connections are much longer. This means it will be quite a long stay but there is plenty to do in Luang Prabang and around.
Getting there: Lao Airlines – Singapore to Vientiane – 2:15 PM – 4.10 PM (2h 50 min flight), 50 minutes connection in Vientiane. Vientiane to Luang Prabang – 5PM – 5.45 PM (45 minutes flight). Fridays only
Coming back: Lao Airlines Luang Prabang to Vientiane – 7.40 AM – 8:25 AM, 1 hour 5 minutes connection in Vientiane. Vientiane to Singapore – 9. 30AM – 1:25PM (2 hours 55 min flight). flight)Wednesdays only
Return ticket from SGD255
Get your ticket NOW to enjoy the best fares.
Getting from Luang Prabang airport to the city centre
Taxis and Tuk Tuks are available at the airport. You will need about 15 minutes to reach the old city and it will cost about SGD 5.
Food and money changers are available before and after check-in.
Where to stay in Luang Prabang
There are many hotels in Luang Prabang. Some are great. For instance, you could try this charming little hotel with rooms overlooking a pond covered in water lily flowers…
There are many options so if you prefer something different, take a look at Agoda or Booking.com.
or, if you prefer, you can book with booking.com
To see & to do in Luang Prabang
A few ideas of things to do and see.
Meet the Monks
Wake up with the sun to see the traditional monks’ procession. The alms giving ceremony takes place from 5.30am to 6.30am on the main street (Th Sisavangvong). Monks will be walking and collecting food silently for their day from the people of Luang Prabang.
Explore the old quarter and its temples
You can walk or rent a bike to visit the old quarter. There are many temples in Luang Prabang, often open from 6am to 6pm so here is a main list of the temples to visit. Some temples are free and some others have an entrance fee (usually 20,000 Kip).
The major ones are Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Mai, Wat Seene Soukharam, Wait Visoun, Wat Aham, Wat Hosing Voravihane, Wat That, Wat Pa Phai and Wat Xieng Mouane… and if after that you still feel like temples, feel free to explore the city and wander around to discover more!
Admire the sunset at Mount Phousi
Enjoy the city view on top of the Mount Phousi (20,000 kips). Access Mount Phousi either in front of the Royal Palace museum (Sisavang Vong street), or by Phousi road, on the other side of Nam Khan river side. Nice city view at sunset.
Visit the Royal Palace museum (30,000 kips, open every day except Tuesdays – 8-11.30am and 1.30-4pm, last entrance 30min before closing time, cover your legs and arms, no cameras allowed but you can use lockers for free).
Visit the Traditional Arts and Technology Center (TAEC) taeclaos.com (every day except Monday – 9am-6pm, 20,000kips) and learn how to distinguish between tribes in Laos.
Enjoy a cruise on the Mekong River
Go to the pier, next to Kitsarath Setthathirat road, and rent a boat for half a day: you can either join a group for 60,000 kips or rent the whole boat for yourself (up to 5 people) for 325,000 kips.
Usually, a half day boat tour on the Mekong River will bring you to the Ban Xan Hai Whisky village first and then to Pak Ou caves (that are 35km from Luang Prabang). There are two caves to visit at Pak Ou (admission 20,000kips): the smallest caves has hundreds of Buddha statues and the Wat Tham Poum cave (bring a torch) has nice Buddha images.
Relax by waterfalls
Kuang Si falls are 32km from Luang Prabang and can be a nice half day trip. You can combine it with a visit to the Elephant Camp. You can swim in the Kuang Si waterfalls (entrance 20,000kips), enjoy a picnic next to the water or just have a walk to see the pools and waterfalls. Beautiful scenery guaranteed!
You can also go to another waterfall 15km from Luang Prabang: Tad Se Waterfall.
Book a tour and arrange to see the elephants. You can either see them or ride and feed them. Some tours will also propose you to bathe with elephants! (25 / 30 USD per person).
Explore villages and temples across the Mekong river
Take a boat to cross the Mekong and go explore the village & the temples there along the riverside : there are 3 temples : Wat Xieng Maen, Wat Chom Phet (on top of a hill quite nice to watch sunset with the monks there), and at the end of the path Wat Long Khun where some monks will propose to bring you to a cave (5min walk) with Buddha images inside… Quite nice! And very close to the city (5min boat to cross over and maybe total of 30-40min distance walk)
Walk the Night Market
Fancy some shopping? The night market will settle every night from 5pm to 10pm on the main road. Clothes, Lao Lao alcohol, fabric… practice your negotiating skills!
You will find many agencies arranging tours in the surrounding areas. Walking, biking or a combination of both. We had visited a very remove village on a 3 day trek (with 1 day biking). Till today we have wonderful memories of this really unique experience off the beaten track.
and the usual…
Massages, cooking lessons, rafting, biking, yoga, weaving,…
More info to prepare your trip
Wifi is available in most restaurants and hotels.
What to pack for Luang Prabang
Your main bag
That’s the one you leave at the hotel. Ideally you want to avoid checking in your luggage when flying. So check the weight and dimensions for hand carry luggage with your airlines (some airlines will allow only 7kg, some will allow up to 10kg). From head to toes.
- Short sleeves tops: your main outfit. Everybody will see them on all your pictures. You really want to take that old Mickey Mouse T-shirt? Be mindful that you will be in a different environment so it might be a good idea to adjust your wardrobe.
- Long sleeves tops: to protect yourself from the sun (if you’ve stayed for 5 hours on a motorbike with short sleeves you know what I mean) or to enter religious buildings or to protect yourself from mosquitoes in the evening.
- Pullover. Yes I know, you’re going to a country where the temperature never goes down below 25 degrees and you need to pack a pullover? You will thank us when you’re back. Remember that flight during which you were freezing? Or this museum where the aircon is set to the “polar bear” temperature?
- Short/skirt (you should be able to chose the appropriate one by yourself).
- Trousers for the same reasons you need to take long sleeves tops. Jeans are usually not a good option. They are heavy and keep you too warm.
- Underwear: well, you know. If you plan to walk or ride motorbikes for long hours, take something comfortable as the combination heat + friction can make you regret this sophisticated silk underwear. Cotton is good.
- Shoes: one pair of flip flap and one pair of confortable shoes. Remember that you are going to spend most of the time on your feet. Forget about high heels and leave your Westons at home.
- Swimsuit: even if you don’t plan to go to the beach, you never know. A nice river, a swimming pool, a heavy rain? Always have one with you.
- Raincoat and protection for your bag. Even if you are visiting the country during the “best season”, you never know what the sky will be like.
- Torch: take a pocket torch with you if you visit countries where the power is not reliable… Can come very handy when stuck in the dark in your room.
- Toilet bag: Shampoo, soap, toothbrush & toothpath, deodorant, sun screen, tiger balm. Ideally, all these in miniature formats.
- Sleeping bag liner (if you plan to stay in very cheap or dirty places, not required if you are staying in a 5-star hotel…)
- Your IT stuff: iPad, eBook, laptop, chargers, memory card, batteries, etc.
- Dryer sheets: they will help keep a fresh smell in your bag.
Your small bag
That’s the one you keep with you, all the time. Hence, a backpack is the best option.
- Your passport, cash, credit cards and other life saving items like your insurance card with emergency contact details. Not a bad idea to put them in a zip-lock bag in case it rains. It will keep your documents dry.
- Your driver’s licence if you plan to rent a car or a motorbike (some countries are quite particular about this so take it with you in case you are not sure, even for a motorbike rental).
- Your emergency medical kit: painkillers, mosquitoes repellent, dressing/plaster, disinfectant, anti diarrhea, eyewash
- Tissues and toilet paper (you will thank me later). Remember that in a lot of countries, you will not be provided napkins when having a meal.
- Water – plastic bottles are a good option as they are lighter than a gourd/flask.
- Biscuits (always buy some before you go when you are not sure what you will find. Always have “emergency” biscuit and water in case you cannot find food around and need to recharge batteries)
- Sunglasses: you’ll need them. Take them even if it’s raining. Weather can change very fast in the region.
- Scarf (krama, or any kind of fabric that you can use to put around your neck, put on your head to protect it from the sun, cover your shoulders in temples, dry your sweat, etc). Can come very handy in some situation. It will not stay clean for long so it’s wise to pick a dark color…
- Camera and its protection.
- Language: Lao (related to Thai)
- Time zone: Laos GMT + 7 , 1h ahead of Singapore
- Currency: Loatian Kip and US Dollars. Kips for small purchases as street stalls and USD for restaurants, shopping, entrance to museum, etc.
- Phone: + 856
- Electricity: 220V 50 Hz
Immigration and airport taxes on arrival
Visa on Arrival can be obtained for most of the nationalities (check at the Laos embassy in your country) at the Visa Counter upon arrival at the airport. Visa on arrival is available at the major entry points (Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Pakse and at the checkpoints with Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia). Validity starts from day of entry into Laos. Tourist/Business: 30 days (can be extended twice in Vientiane for 30 days). Visas must be used within three months of being issued.
Entry Visa requirements for a Tourist visa (30 days for single entry):
- Your passport
- One passport type photo
- Service fee of US$30
- Application fee of 3,000 kip per person
- Visa extension fee : $2 per day if you have valid visa, $10 per day if your visa is already expired (overstayed days)
- Visa exemption for ASEAN countries (Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei) and Japan as well as a number of ex USSR countries and other countries (Brazil, Poland,
National Public Holidays in Laos
|New Year’s Day||1 Jan|
|Pathet Lao Day||6 Jan|
|Army Day||20 Jan|
|Chinese New Year||28 Feb|
|International Women’s Day||8 Mar|
|Day of the People’s Party||22 Mar|
|Lao New Year (Pi Mai)||13 – 15 Apr|
|Labour Day||1 May|
|Buddha’s Birthday||3 May|
|Children’s Day||1 Jun|
|National Day||2 Dec|
* Check the exact date as it varies from one year to another.