There is no doubt that Luang Prabang is our favourite place in Laos. And a contender for one of our best in all of Southeast Asia. Think misty early mornings watching monks receiving alms, a buzzing night market full of great deals and souvenirs worth your silver, delicious restaurants, quality hotels and small cafés bursting out onto the pavements, as you sit and watch the world go by. There is also nothing like a sunset in Luang Prabang. Something about the town is just magical as the sun sets above the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers.
We were lucky enough to watch a few sunsets while we were there. Number #3 on this list rates as possibly the best sunset we’ve ever seen (and as late risers, we have seen A LOT of sunsets!). Here are a few of our favourite (and one slightly secret) spots to watch a sunset in Luang Prabang.
Recommended: Planning on going to Vang Vieng? We have a list of the best Vang Veing viewpoints to hike!
Our favourite Sunset in Luang Prabang spots
- Mount Phousi – the best hilltop view
- Utopia – the place to be seen at sunset
- Belle Rive Bar – the quieter, upmarket option
- Mekong Beach – mixing with the locals for sunset
- Mekong River Cruise – cruising the river to see the sun go down
Anyone who has been to Luang Prabang will tell you to head up Mount Phousi (or Phousi Hill) for the sunset, for good reason. The hill provides the best vantage point over the town but, even more impressively, boasts a small temple – Wat Chom Si – which makes this viewing a pretty religious experience.
The temple is not the most impressive in Luang Prabang (check out our list of our favourites here), but since you need to pay the entrance fee of around 20,000 kip (approx. 2 GBP) for the temple even if you’re just headed to the viewpoint, it is worth treating this as a combo deal.
Please just keep in mind that the temple shuts at 5.00pm and usually sunset starts at around 6.30pm depending on the season so you’re best served going to the temple at around 4.30pm to catch it before it closes.
Trust us: it’s worth going early since Mount Phousi gets quite crowded and there are limited places with a good vantage point, so you want to grab one of them before the hordes arrive at 6.00pm.
It’s also worth noting that, like all temples in Laos, you should consider the religious customs and acceptable dress code. Which means covering your shoulders and legs i.e. no crop tops, sleeveless vests or shorts! Wear long trousers or a skirt, and carry a shawl as needed.
Two last tips: take sufficient water and your mobile phone or a torch. The water you’ll need since it’s 300 steps up the hill and the mobile phone for when you descend after sunset, since the lighting is relatively poor and there is a small chance you could trip on the way down.
It’s said that if you visit Luang Prabang, you’ll land up at Utopia. This restaurant cum yoga retreat holds a special place for many a traveller, as it offers a cool, trendy way to wind down a day of temple-hopping and exploring the town.
With low tables and comfy beanbags scattered throughout this fantastic venue, it has a relaxed feel to it and after dark it’s a beautiful retreat, lit up with hanging lanterns and flickering table candles.
The bar boasts a number of seating areas but its bamboo balcony offers the perfect sunset viewing spot, as you see the sun fall out of the sky while sipping your 2 for 1 cocktails.
Utopia also offers a surprisingly delicious and well-priced food menu – we would highly recommend the burgers and salads but suggest stay away from the toasted sandwich options, which we didn’t enjoy.
And, if you do stay after the sun goes down, we suggest waiting there until closing time. Luang Prabang has a curfew of 22.30 so most bars, including Utopia, stick to this and switch off their lights (an interesting experience if you’re without a torch!).
However, what makes closing time at Utopia special is that you’ll be met by a horde of waiting tuk tuk drivers, all offering to take you ten pin bowling!
This is great fun to do, as you are ferried off to a random bowling alley and end up competing against other travellers, while downing a few BeerLao for your trouble.
Belle Rive bar
We might have spoiled it earlier, but this is our favourite pick for a watching a sunset in Luang Prabang. More than this, it might be the best (and most unexpected) sunset we’ve ever seen.
The Belle River is a 4 star hotel situated on the road, set a little way back from the river. But it’s the adjacent bar, jutting out over the water, that offers what we think is the best viewpoint in all of Luang Prabang.
At time of writing, this wasn’t really a well-known location and we were one of four tables served that evening; making this feel like a bit of a secret spot just for those in the know.
The drinks at the Belle Rive are not cheap but also not eye-wateringly expensive: we paid about 50,000 kip (5 GBP) for a Pimms cocktail which was absolutely delicious and worth every penny!
Make like the locals and head down to the river itself for the sunset. The banks and sand alongside the river near the Dyen Sabai Bamboo Bridge are frequented by local fishermen and their families after hours, as they play in the fading light.
You can take your own beers and perhaps a small picnic, sit on the ‘beach’ and watch the pinks and oranges streak across the sky. There are a few bars nearby where you could of course go afterwards for an early cocktail.
Like most places in Luang Prabang, its worth carrying your mosquito repellent for this spot since it’s located right on the river and you could be prone to a few bites if you’re not careful.
If you haven’t spent the last few days cruising down the Mekong, as many people do to arrive in Luang Prabang, then you’ll need to get your river fix in.
There are many vendors selling sunset river cruises in the town but we’d suggest checking out Get Your Guide’s sunset cruise – it has great reviews.
A river cruise allows you to see Luang Prabang from a different angle and usually offers up a cracking sunset, viewed from all angles. It’s also particularly great for couples, as a romantic evening out on the water.
Have you got another sunset from Luang Prabang to add to our list? Please let us know in the comments or get in touch!
Also, if you have taken that perfect Instagram shot and are needing some motivation to write the caption, we’ve done all the work for you. Head over to our list of the best sunset Instagram captions, to set your feed on fire.
Best time to go to Luang Prabang
We were in Luang Prabang at the end of June, early July and we had wonderful weather. If not pretty hot… so if you go at this time of year, it’s best to get up early for the sunrise or wait for the cooling evening air to catch those sunsets. However, we have read that the best time of year is meant to be between November and March when it is dry and cooler.
What are the best places to stay in Luang Prabang?
Budget: Situated in a really great location and with really good rooms at a low cost, the Maison Vongprachan Hotel gets our nod for the best budget option in town.
Mid-range: Although a little bit out of town (20 minutes walk), Le Bel Air Resort provides you with high-end accommodation at mid-range prices.
Luxury: We wish we could have stayed at the Avani Hotel, and walked past it everyday with a touch of jealousy – this is the place to stay in Luang Prabang!
Getting around Laos
If you’re looking for travel options around Laos, we’d recommend checking out Bookaway for buses and transfers. They have amazing 24 hour support and many routes have great cancellation policies – which is a bit of a relief, when you need to change travel plans. Trust us, that happens more than you’d expect.
What camera equipment and other gear do we use?
We’re living proof that you don’t need the most expensive gear to travel the world and take good photos. Here are some of our must have items that make it into the packing list for all our travels.
- Main Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ1000
- Drone: DJI Mavic Air – Fly More Combo
- GoPro: Hero 7 Black
- GoPro Dive Case: Go Pro Housing
- GoPro Case: Smatree GoPro Carry Case – Small
- Packing Cubes: Eagle Creek Packing case
- Backpack: Osprey Farpoint 70
- Powerbank: Anker Powercore
- Phone: Xiaomi Mi 9
- Hard drive: Transcend Slim Storejet 2TB
- Laptop: Lenovo IdeaPad 720s
- Headphones: Bose Quiet Comfort 35
- Wifi Hotspot: GlocalMe G4
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