Luang Prabang was my first major destination in Laos. This town is known as a UNESCO World Heritage town and Laos’ premiere tourist destination.

I loved wandering around the old riverside district, walking along quiet streets lined with Buddhist temples and beautiful French-colonial shophouses.

Me and a travel buddy I met, while on the bus to Luang Prabang, rented motorcycles for the day to explore the outskirts of town. We went to Kuang Si Waterfall, which was beautifully supercharged by the rainy season then to the Pak Ou Caves located at the side of a picturesque limestone cliff.

Itinerary Rundown

  • Chiang Rai and Phrae
  • Xuay Xai to Luang Prabang Bus
Day 1
  • Luang Prabang
  • Luang Prabang Hostel search
  • Luang Prabang Walking Tour
Day 2
  • Luang Prabang
  • Luang Prabang Walking Tour
  • Kuang Si Waterfall
  • Pak Ou Caves
Day 3
  • Luang Prabang
  • Luang Prabang Walking Tour
Day 4
  • Luang Prabang
  • Muang Ngoi Neua
  • Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoi Neua by Bus and Ferry
  • Nong Khiaw and Muang Ngoi Neua
  • Laos from North to South
  • Indochina

Trip Date — September 2013

Itinerary Notes & Tips


  • Ride tuktuk from Xuay Xai village center to Huay Xai bus terminal
  • Buy Xuay Xai to Luang Prabang bus ticket – K120,000 per person
  • Wait for bus departure at the bus terminal

Xuay Xai to Luang Prabang Bus

The 12-hour bus ride was one of the longest land journeys that I had ever done. The road wound through the scenic mountains of Northern Laos, which was a nice distraction. I talked to other backpackers who were on the same bus during one of the many rest stops along the way. The ride wasn’t so bad afterwards.

  • 2:00pm – Departure from Xuay Xai
  • 6:00pm – Stopover at Nam Tha bus station
  • 8:00pm – Stopover at Udomaxai bus station

Day 1

  • 2:00am – Arrival at Luang Prabang northern bus station
  • Ride tuktuk from bus station to Luang Prabang city center – K20,000 per person

Luang Prabang Arrival and Hostel search

Our bus arrived in Luang Prabang around 3am. Me and two backpackers (an Australian and German) I met on the bus hired a songthaew (small local pick-up truck) to take us to Oudomphong Guesthouse, which was one of the cheaper hostels in town.

Oudomphong Guesthouse was located at the edge of Luang Prabang’s old quarter. The hostel was run by friendly and helpful staff who spoke very good English. It was a short walk away from the night market, many restaurants, and the riverside area.

On my first night, I shared a triple room (aircon with own T/B) with two other travelers I met at the bus. The room costs K120,000 per night.

The next day, I transferred to a single room for K40,000 per night.

Luang Prabang UNESCO World Heritage Walking Tour

We wandered around streets lined with french-colonial shophouses and residences  transformed into restaurants, cafes, and bars. Explored the former Royal Palace, ethnic museum, ancient Buddhist temples and monasteries filled with saffron robed monks. We also enjoyed a beautiful overlooking view of Luang Prabang from the summit of Phou Si Hill.

I didn’t get to see much of the city on my second day since we were mostly out of the city but on my third day, I continued my walking tour of Luang Prabang city center.

  • Breakfast at restaurant along the river
    • Tofu Larb – K25,000
      • Larb is the national dish of Lao. Didn’t find it remarkably tasty.
  • Wat Xieng Thong
  • Phou Si Hill – K20,000 admission fee
    • Wat Chom Si
  • Tourist Information Office
  • Traditional Arts and Ethnology Museum – K20,000 admission fee
  • Vat Phonxay
  • Night Market
  • Night Food Market
    • Vegetarian Buffet – K10,000

Day 2

Motorbike Rental

  • Rent motorcycle at shop near Oudomphong (along the way to the riverside)
    • Automatic scooter – K150,000 whole day rental
  • Refuel at Gas Station
  •  – K20,000

Kuang Si Waterfall

We first went to Kuang Si Waterfall, which was supposedly the most impressive waterfall in the area. It was indeed beautiful but the current was too strong for swimming. This was probably because it was the height of the rainy season during my visit.

  • Motorcycle parking charge at Kuang Si Waterfall – K2,000
  • Lunch at restaurant along the highway – K20,000
  • Refuel at Gas Station – K17,000

Pak Ou Caves

We had to ride a small long boat across the Ou River to get to the Pak Ou Caves, which was filled with hundreds (maybe even thousands) of small Buddha statues. The best part of this attraction wasn’t the actual cave but the beautiful riverside scenery.

  • Admission Fee to Pak Ou Caves – K20,000
  • Motorcycle parking charge – K5,000
  • Ferry crossing – K7,000 per person

Attempting to visit Tad Sae waterfall, we backtracked the highway towards Kuang Si Waterfall. Unfortunately, we ran out of daylight. We decided to head back to town so my friend could catch the night bus to Vang Vieng.

Luang Prabang

  • Night Market
  • Night Food Market

Day 3

  • Riverside Promenades
  • Vat Siphoutthabat Thippharam
  • Wat Nong Sikhounmuang
  • Wat Xieng Muan

Day 4

Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw Bus and Muang Ngoi Neua Ferry

Bus ride from Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw and then ferry ride to Muang Ngoi Neua in Northern Laos.