Quick Guide: Luang Prabang Historical Center
A quick guide for a delicious walking tour through Luang Prabang's historical center:
Get into Luang Prabang's mood and wake up before dawn to follow the Alms Giving Ceremony performed by buddhist monks that live in the many monasteries in the city. Everyday, before the light of day, they walk the streets to reaffirm their poverty and humility vows and collect donations of sticky rice that the locals offer in a gesture of devotion. Since it contains many temples, the Sakkaline St. is the meeting point of visitors willing to follow the ritual, but it is possible to watch the procession in any other street. Keep in mind that this is a solemn moment for the local community, so act respectfully: keep silence, dress up properly, don't walk beside the monks and don't take short distance pictures. Find a quiet spot to sit and observe from across the street (even if other tourists might not be doing the same…).
When the sun rises, the Morning Market is already set up for you to grab some fruits and have a cup of coffee with locals. At 8 am, the Royal Palace Museum opens its doors and even if you're not interested in going inside the palace, the Wat Mai Monastery, the biggest in town, is worth the visit. Right at the the next block there are some other temples built in Laos best traditional style, such as Wat Pa Phai and Wat Xieng Mouane.
At this point you'll be already walking through the peninsula that delimits the historical center, so keep walking along the banks of the emblematic Mekong river, appreciating the colonial houses which nowadays serve as hotels and restaurants and where you'll be able to stop for lunch while admiring the view. Before going back to your walk, what about a stop for a delicious locally produced coffee at the Saffron Espresso Caffè? The next stop is Wat Xieng Thong, one of the most important monasteries of Laos built around 1550.
When the dusk hours arrive, go to one of the best spots for contemplating the sunset: Mount Phousi. After climbing the 350 steps to the top of this sacred hill you can have a panoramic view of the city with its rivers and forests, and take some rest while watching the sun drown in the Mekong river. The descent will take you straight to the Night Market, which takes over Sisavangvong St. every day at 5pm with dozens of colorful tents selling local products. The alley that crosses the final stretch of the fair is the perfect spot to end the day where you'll find the best of local food, ice cold Lao Beer and inviting benches to satisfy your hunger, make friends and relax from the long day of walking.
(From: Google Maps)