We love Luang Prabang as a destination for families because the pace is slower than most major Southeast Asian countries and there are plenty of kid centric activities that can keep every age entertained. Take a look at the 8 things we think every family should put on their itinerary when visiting this beautiful city in Laos.
The draw here is to come and learn about rice planting, harvesting and cooking. But, our family enjoyed the other aspects of this full days worth of activities at the Living Land Company. Make your own juice from sugar cane, take a basket weaving lesson, and dine on some of the absolute best food in the whole country! Our family used our portable gluten tester called the Nima Sensor and this place was #nimatestedandpassed so even if you are gluten free, we recommend eating here.
This is your go to to learn about textiles. Although some of the classes are multi-day endeavors, with smaller kids like mine were when we visited, they recommend a tie dyeing family class. Don't be fooled by the appearance that this will be one of those things your family has done a million times at home. Trust us, your kids didn't learn which leaves made green and then went through the garden to find them. This was hard work but so well worth it and even the five-year-old had a blast creating. I loved that they give you a rundown of silk worms and the industry itself before you begin your class. Also, this is a great place to purchase hand made textiles. They are pricey but worth it once you watch them hard at work. They also have a dining facility here if your family needs some nourishment after creating their masterpieces. Visiting at night? Don't miss the Outdoor Movie experience here!
Hike Mount Phousi
Standing 100 meters about sea level this is the tallest point in Luang Prabang and is a beautiful spot to watch the sunrise or sunset. It is a steep climb straight up hill with lots of uneven steps so make sure your family has on bug spray, has plenty of water and is prepared to take a few breaks here and there. There are a few Wats along the way up the 300 steps and you will see several people purchasing flowers as offerings or live birds for release (although we don't condone the purchase of a living animal for this purpose). We made it about half way to the top with the five-year-old amongst us and could still see the beauty of the land.
Kuang Si Falls
Bring a swimsuit and take a dip in the crystal clear waters or just take the gentle hike to the top of the falls to marvel at the beauty of the landscape. Remember, to be modest if you choose to swim here.
Any age will fall in love with the adorable Asiatic Bears being cared for in this facility. This conservation effort is in conjunction with the Laos Department of Forestry and does a great job of education the public about the plight of the bears throughout the world. This entity has completed their third Bear House and Wildlife hospital in 2019 and has worked to give homes to endangered and trafficked wildlife throughout the country like macaques, leopards, tortoises, birds, and even red pandas.
This hour and a half sunset cruise is a great way to get on the water and see Luang Prabang from a different point of view. Run by Satri House, where we stayed while visiting Laos, this cruise features first class service and a fun way to wind down from day to night.
This was our favorite night market in all of Southeast Asia! Super fun to roam around and see what this part of the world has on offer. Specialities include textiles like handmade duvet covers and scarves, bamboo woven items like fans, handbags and hats, and of course elephant pants. Purchase here because you will find the prices at this night market the most reasonable throughout the whole region.
This restaurant is right on the falls with an idyllic view no matter where you sit and is within a 15 minute walking distance to the entrance of Kuang Si Falls. Make time to play on the wooden seesaw at the entrance of the restaurant before sitting for a meal here. For those eating gluten free, we had a bit of a struggle with the language barrier but finally got a #nimatestedandpassed result from our Nima portable gluten tester with pan fried French fries and plain rice. The staff worked hard to accommodate our food allergy and in the end it was worth it for the playground and the view.
Other Activities to Consider
If you are considering any animal themed activity they are always needing review before a visit, especially if it isn't governed by a body like the AZA or a Governmental organization like with the Bear Sanctuary. These tours below are one of those "use your own discretion grey areas" for traveling tourists. Please try and ensure any tours involving animals are humane and ethical before you go because things can change from good to worse when there is no governing body ensuring standards are met and maintained. I don't call these animal themed activities a "must do" but have attached them for those interested because they are available in Luang Prabang and are family friendly.
We found this place from CNN's article Mandalao: Is this Laos' most responsible elephant retreat? There is no elephant riding here and our tour did not include elephant bathing. Simply feeding bananas to create trust and hiking near them as they eat forest brush and trees. The hike was gentle enough for the 5-year-old to traverse without any issue but did include steep uphill and downhill climbs because you are basically following the elephants and go at their pace and direction. We liked that before you begin there is a focus on conservation and elephant rescue which was great to help the children understand the need for protecting elephants.
They serve lunch as part of their tours and we did specify when booking our tour it needed to be gluten free. When we arrived, we were told they did not prepare it gluten free and needed to remake it. Although a bit of a wait, what was handed to us eventually was #nimatestedandpassed with our portable gluten tester (Nima Sensor) and everything indeed was served gluten free the second time.
Started by a woman from New York, this place produces dairy for tourists by renting local buffalo from residents. I thought it was renting an already pregnant buffalo from locals. This sounded like a great way to infuse the local economy with cash to provide something like diary that only foreigners consume. But, in fact, when we visited, it was clarified that they rent females and then artificially inseminate them a few times so that they lactate. Tours are available where you can milk and/or feed the buffalo or you can just visit their ice cream stand for a sweet treat. Please note they have other farm animals in pens like pigs and chickens and feature them on the tour.
Need a fantastic place to stay that is historic, boutique, serves gluten free food and provides top notch customer service while in Luang Prabang? Check out our in depth review of Satri House.
Need Travel Protection? Don't forget travel insurance if you are traveling to Laos with kids! We booked ours with Travelex and made sure we had medical evacuation included because this is a somewhat remote location in the world.