Settled firmly in the center of northern Laos, Luang Prabang sits along the Mekong River, a serene relic of the country’s colonial past.
The entirety of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is littered with French inspired architecture juxtaposed against the striking beauty of distinctly Asian temples (wats). While not a huge city, the relaxed vibe, striking beauty, and many day trip adventures make Luang Prabang the prefect romantic and unforgettable honeymoon getaway.
What to Eat
With its history of French colonialism, locally grown coffee, and flair from Asian spice, Luang Prabang does not lack for delicious food. Full of al fresco café’s in charmingly vine-covered buildings, a romantic meal is never more than a walk away. Le Banneton is a French bakery a block from the river dishes up some of the best pastries in the city. Its breezy patio and European elegance make it the perfect romantic spot to share a cup of coffee and baguette any time of day.
For a casual night out and a lively atmosphere, the (in)famous Vegetarian Buffet street market is a budget friendly adventure. While the food itself can tend towards greasy, the price and the atmosphere cannot be beaten. Usually packed to the rafters with adventurous travelers, no trip to Luang Prabong would be complete without one night spent munching on sir-fried morning glory while rubbing elbows with an eclectic mix of globe-trotters. For a more upscale taste of local food, Café Toui is local cuisine at its finest: a small restraint on a quiet sides street, the chef at Café Toui serves top quality Laos dishes, at reasonable prices.
Where to explore
Just getting to Luang Prabang is an adventure worth having in itself. Cross the border between Thailand and Laos and hop on the slow boat down the Mekong, a two-day river journey through the picturesque Laotian countryside. The open-air boat provides unobstructed views of bathing cows, pristine white sandbars, and lush mountainsides as you make the leisurely journey eastward.
Once you’ve arrived, you can spend the day wandering through the many golden Wats of the city, soaking up the French-colonial buildings, and visiting the many handicraft shops and cafes scattered around town. End the day by finding a secluded spot along the river to share a beer and watch as the sun sets behind the mountains.
You can rent a motorbike, and drive through the countryside for a romantic day of quiet farms and local villages. Renting a motorbike can provide a bit of privacy add freedom of movement (not to mention an excuse to be close to each other), letting the two of you escape the tourist track for an intimate, authentic experience of this relatively unexplored country. Also worth seeing are the beautiful blue Kwang Si waterfalls, where you can dip your toes into the strikingly colored pools and enjoy a short hike in the great outdoors.
Words and photos, by Alex Idzal
Alex is a recent graduate from the University of California Santa Barbara, where she studied English Lit and Fine Art. She is currently traveling solo through Southeast Asia, where she has eaten her weight in noodles and mango sticky rice. When not abroad, Alex lives in San Francisco, California. Find her on Instagram at @alexidzal