Covered by jungle, mighty rivers, waterfalls and mountains, Laos is an outdoor lover’s paradise.
If you want to experience some of the best that nature has to offer in South East Asia, make a trip to Luang Prabang in the north of Laos.
Luang Prabang has plenty of options for the adventurous or more relaxed traveller who have a passion for the outdoors and local wildlife
Here’s my top 4 outdoor activities to do in Luang Prabang.
1. Go chasing waterfalls
The Kuang Si waterfall is top of most traveller’s to do lists when visiting Laos – and for good reason.
The attraction is not just one waterfall – it’s one large one and then the water cascades over limestone terraces and into pools of turquoise blue water. You can’t help but want to jump in the water for a swim immediately.
From the first swimming waterhole, you head up the dirt path to the waterfall.
You get a great view of the main falls from the wooden bridge and viewing platform. You can then head up to the top of the falls.
The path to the left of the falls is your best option. It’s steep but the other side is steeper.
It will take about 15-20 minutes to reach the top of the falls, where you’ll be met with sun dappled waterholes crisscrossed by rustic wooden bridges.
Here you can enjoy the view at the picnic tables, or head back down for a swim. Swimming is only allowed in some areas and the off limit areas are clearly signed.
The journey to Kuang Si Waterfall takes about 50 minutes from Luang Prabang along a windy, green road.
You can head up to the falls independently in a tuk tuk but you’ll need a group of people to keep the price affordable.
Minibuses run from the town centre at 11.30pm and 1.30pm for $A7 return. This option is good for solo travellers but means you will arrive at the falls with everyone else. Luckily there are a few activity options in the area so it doesn’t feel as crowded as I thought it would be.
The area has plenty of picnic tables so bring a packed lunch and make a day out of your trip to the falls. Entry into the falls is $A3.
2. See the sunset from the top of Mt Phousi
Back in Luang Prabang, one of the must do activities is walk up to the stupa on the top of Mt Phousi, located in the middle of town
There’s a number of temples and statues along the steep path up the mountain.
It’s also a great place for a sunset view, but expect a crowd. Cost is $A3 to enter the Mt Phousi grounds.
Another great sunset view is from the banks of the Mekong River.
3. Go for a hike
From Luang Prabang, you can set out through the jungle or into a traditional village on a hike.
There’s many tour agencies offering hiking packages. You can choose to trek to Kuang Si or Tad Sae Waterfalls, or visit a Hmong village.
4. Grab a paddle and go kayaking
Kayaking is another popular activity offered in Luang Prabang and many kayaking packages include a trip to the Pak Ou Cave, which is filled with Buddha statues.
The Pak Ou Cave tour usually also includes a trip to Ban Xang Hai – better known as the Whiskey Village. Here you’ll have a chance to see the process of making Laos’s rice whiskey, lao-Lao.
Tips for visiting Laos:
- Many nationalities can get a visa on arrival in Laos at Luang Prabang or Vientiane airports. The cost is $US30 and is payable in cash only in US Dollars or Laos Kip. Make sure you bring a passport size photo for your application.
- There’s an array of activities on offer in Luang Prabang and plenty of tour agencies to choose from. It’s best to book when you arrive with the tour agencies or through your hotel. The bulk of tour agencies are on Sisavangvong Street near Mt Phousi.
- You can reach Kuang Si waterfalls independently or by organised minibus. If going independently, it’s best to go early as all the minibuses arrive between 12.30pm and 2.30pm.
- December and January are the most popular months to visit Laos as you can expect warm, clear days.