The City between the Rivers.
Luang Prabang is on a rocky hill top plateau where the Mekong and Mae Kok Rivers meet.
A UNESCO world heritage site the old town attracts backpackers and well-heeled scandinavian couples luckily avoiding package tour hell so far.
Very good restaurants with fresh local organic food abound. L'Elephant being very worthily listed as the best in town. Brunches at Cafe Ban Vat Sene with good french style breads and patisseries. People watching and evening cocktails with excellent food at Tangor on the main street near the start of the night market.
Similarly the town is blessed with exceptionally good high end and boutique hotels both inside the old town and nearby.
We loved staying at the Saitri House build around an older aristocratic home stuffed full of hard to find Laotian Antiques, and dinner is to die for!
Lunch at the Amantaka hotel in a converted former colonial hospital where the rooms are asian minimalism as only the Aman resorts can do.
In the Old Town we really liked the look of the Burasari Heritage overlooking the river but the service at the time did put us off staying.
The 3 Nagas is nice in the mid range especially if you can get the larger rooms in the heritage building across the street from the main building.
A secret gem is the Sala Prabang at very reasonable rates overlooking the Mekong. Very tastefully renovated heritage building by a Lao Architect and his brother who own the place.
Luang Prabang Old Town is all about wandering around and discovering. Old ladies drying herbs on the roadside to ancient temples like Wat Xieng Thong and charming backstreets with local character.
Seeing the Royal palace and climbing the "mount" nearby is well worth it if you avoid the peak times. Late afternoon is great if you can make it to the top in time you can join the love struck local couples in admiring the sunset. A twilight stroll along the ridge then down to Tangor the bar and restaurant on Sisavangvong Road to enjoy the people watching while waiting for the night market to set up is great fun.
Satri House, Hotel
Satri House has grown from a slightly run down eccentric villa into a luxury high end resort retaining its charm while adding the service quality of a 5 star resort.
Still Owned by the Same family with aristocratic connections and parisian sensibilities it is independent and truly an expression of the owners taste and welcoming hospitality. The restaurant is authentic and delicious! probably the best we experienced in Luang Prabang.
The Amataka like all Aman resorts is a super serene escape. Redeveloped from an old low rise colonial hospital its retains all the charming features and adds more villas to the quadrangle that was the original layout adding a gorgeous pool and lawns in the centre.
The restaurant and lobby lounge are lovely and evoke bygone era with some charming lao vintage photographs from the area. Food is an excellent modern retake on traditional lao dishes including an incredible sticky rice and mango pudding! The Aman resorts are always very aware of the local setting and culture and try very hard to enter into the community and benefit it.
Mount Phousi, walk
Explore the Royal Palace at the end of the day just before it closes, you might stumble across a classical lao dance rehearsal there in the hall on the left as you enter the grounds. Check out the royal vintage car collection and often there is an exhibition at the rear of the "stables".
Dash up the side of "Mount Phousi"
to enjoy a sunset with the local lovers sitting around the small temple there avoiding the tourists jostling for sunset picture position. a walk along the ridge to the east will bring you down behind another temple and onto down to Sisavangvong head back west towards the Palace and stop at Tangor the bar and restaurant to enjoy the people watching while waiting for the night market to set up.
Pak Ou Buddha Caves, river trip
Take a break from the town itself and hire a boat to go downriver to see the Buddha Cave. Avoid the tourist boat times and get there whilst its relatively deserted. Check out the great photo gallery at Big Tree Cafe and they will tell you how to book a boat nearby. The gallery also run some great photo workshops of Hmong Villages.
Burasari Heritage Hotel
The town's Hotels often have a classic car out front for airport pickups.
where the rivers meet
Wat Xieng Thong
Big Tree cafe A local Artist