A Good Walk (or Ride)

Touring the city's major sights takes a full day—maybe longer if you climb Phu Si Hill, which has particularly lovely views at sunset. The evening bazaar on Sisavangvong Road starts around 6. Though the distances between these attractions are walkable, you may not want to do this all on foot if it's really hot out. Rent a bike, or break this into a few shorter walks, and stay out of the sun during the heat of the day.

Start your tour of Luang Prabang at the Tribal Market, at the intersection of Sisavangvong Road and Setthathirat Road. From here, head northeast along Sisavangvong, stopping on the left at one of the city's most beautiful temples, Wat Mai. Magnificent wood carvings and golden murals decorate the main pillars and portico entrance to the temple. Continue down Sisavangvong to the compound of the Royal Palace, with its large bronze statue of King Sisavangvong. On leaving the palace grounds by the main entrance, climb the staircase to Phu Si Hill. The climb is steep and takes about 15 minutes, but you'll be rewarded with an unforgettable view of Luang Prabang and the surrounding countryside.

Back in front of the Royal Palace, follow Sisavangvong toward the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, where you can find another fascinating Luang Prabang temple, Wat Xieng Thong. Leaving the compound on the Mekong River side, walk back to the city center along the romantic waterside road, which is fronted by several French colonial houses and Lao traditional homes. Passing the port area behind the Royal Palace, continue on to the intersection with Wat Phu Xay; turn left here to return to the Tribal Market. Every evening there's a local night market, stretching from the Tribal Market to the Royal Palace.

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