Great green ridgelines jog across the skyline dotted with puffy white clouds. Milk Chocolate rivers lazily cut through the vibrant green landscape. From the air, the only sign of human development is the small plots of farms dotting the jungle hillside. People chirp, “hello” on the idyllic streets filled where colonial architecture meets Laotian craftsmanship. For the solo traveler, Luang Prabang, Laos is simply paradise.
Where Is Luang Prabang, Laos?
Located smack in the middle of the northern end of Laos lies the South East Asian fairy-tale town of Luang Prabang. Nestled along the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, Luang Prabang embodies life on the river. This picturesque UNESCO World Heritage and its surrounding areas will quickly have you lose all sense of time.
Is Solo Travel to Luang Prabang Safe?
For first-timer’s in Laos, there is a wide array of things to do for solo travelers. In fact, it’s one of the best countries to go it alone in. As a solo female traveler, I never once felt unsafe in Luang Prabang, Laos. I ate on the street, road in tuk-tuks, and even walked around at night with zero problems. You need to be careful about eating raw veggies and fruits without a thick skin, and of course, you need to stick to filtered water. I used my SteriPEN the entire time I was in country and never encountered any problems.
How Many Days Should you Spend in Luang Prabang?
I spent three full days exploring Luang Prabang. Although Luang Prabang is the kind of place where it’s easy to slip away and forget the world, I felt that this was a sufficient amount of time. You know me though, I’m not one to sit on my laurels, so if you’re the kind of traveler who takes it slow, book in a few more days.
What are Prices Like for Solo Travel in Luang Prabang?
Prices aren’t outrageous, in fact, they are rather cheap compared to places like Thailand, Malaysia, and even parts of Indonesia. Although I’ve taken local transportation across Java, I travel a little less budget-oriented nowadays. I certainly don’t throw money at things, but I pay for luxuries like AC and a private bedroom.
A three-star hotel that’s clean, has hot water, reliable wifi, breakfast, an AC, a fan, safe, and is located right off of the main drag through town runs between $30-$40 a night. I stayed at the Oudamlith Guesthouse and absolutely loved it.
Food varies. You can find a meal on the street for less than $3 USD or 20,000kip. More upscale restaurants can become as pricey as you’d like, but mid-range meals with a beer cost less than $8. A large beer cost around $2 at 15,000kip.
The food in Laos is absolutely incredible and you can’t really go wrong. Mid-range meals offer some incredible selections and the noodles on the street are top notch. Seriously. I never take photos of food, and I did it here…twice.
Here’s where it’s painful being a solo traveler in Luang Prabang. Tuk tuks are hired based on a price per group. So as a solo traveler, you’re always going to pay more. For Example, if you’re looking to go to the Kuang Si Falls and take a dip it is going to cost you 200,000Kip. Everyone will give you the same price, but it’s pretty tough to get under 200,000. Keep in mind this is roughly $24USD. You can rent a motorbike for the entire day at that price. Certainly a worth-while consideration for the intrepid traveler.
Your other option is to ask if someone will share with you. I met some Germans at a cooking class I took. We ended up getting along and split the ride. I was thankful I didn’t rent the motobrike that day, it poured rain the entire time!
Activities aren’t too bad all things considered. Kuang Si Falls, most of the Temples, and Mount Phousi all cost 20,000kip ($2.40). A cooking class at one of the best restaurants in town is around $35USD. My one spendy activity was hiking with the elephants at Mandalao. An entire day’s tour cost me $100 and included yet another fabulous lunch.
For more fabulous outdoor activities perfect for the solo adventurist check out this guide.
I usually don’t do much shopping on vacation, as I tend to spend my money on experiences. However, you can’t put me in the land of hand-dyed textiles and scarves and expect me to survive. I couldn’t help myself and bought two hand-dyed scarves and one hand-made, hand-dyed cloth change bowl. This ran me around $60, as I opted to purchase these items from actual studio shops in order to ensure their authenticity.
If that’s not in your budget, you can buy cheap to your heart’s content at the night market. Most of these goods are made in China and mirror that of every other night market in the region. I certainly saw harem pants that are also available in Nepal.
Charming people, beautiful scenery, safe streets, and delicious food make Laos one of the best places for solo travel.