Luang Prabang, Laos things to do: Expert tips from an expat



Emi Weir came to Laos 10 years ago looking for a sea change that became a river change. She saw the opportunity for a fair-trade store to spread the lucrative tourism dollars, and is now the owner of Ma Te Sai and Banana Boat Tours,,


The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC) is in a heritage building on the side of Phousi Hill. Its collection is easily covered in an hour and you'll walk out with a greater understanding of the ethnic diversity that makes Laos so interesting.


Central Luang Prabang is not large, with not too much traffic, so get on a bike for a self-guided tour around the peninsula and enjoy the river vantage points. Explore the Golden Temple, the weaving village Ban Phanom, and the paper-making village Ban Xang Khong on the edge of town.


Noodle soups (khao soy) are a big part of Lao cuisine, and unique in northern Laos. Head to the small shop opposite Wat Vat Sene on the main street for its rice noodle and a clear broth, topped with fermented bean and pork bolognaise. It comes with a side of greens, lime and chilli, and sells out by noon. Right at the other end of the spectrum, new Paste Laos' entree of watermelon, ground Mekong river fish with crispy shallots and roasted galangal powder is delicious, and they reinvent the Lao Duck Curry and Luang Prabang Salad. The tasting menus are better value and you get perfect direction of flavours,


My favourite way to end a busy week is to jump on a boat for a sunset cruise (hence I have my own boat), with a Beer Lao and a snack of local fried mushrooms and peanuts in lime leaf and garlic. Once the sun has fallen, I head on over to 525 Cocktail and Tapas Bar for a Sabaidee Lao: a happy mix of honey and kaffir lime-infused gin,


Avoid alms giving on the main street. Unfortunately, the monks and novices coming out from the temples on the main street at pre-dawn are now bombarded by flashlights, tour groups and locals capitalising on sticky-rice sales. If you visit it in the quieter areas, or have your accommodation help you, you will learn the correct etiquette (things like men stand, women kneel), and the appropriate dress.