Luang Prabang with young children

Walking along the dusty streets, taking in the red bricked pavements running along outside french inspired cafes, there is a familiar feel to Luang Prabang that makes you feel at home. Compared to it’s neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam, there is a slower, easier pace that allows you step back, relax and truly take in the world around you. It is this combination of relaxed atmosphere, stunning natural beauty and the ease of finding a good cup of English Tea that made us fall in love with Luang Prabang.

 

Travelling to Luang Prabang

We began our journey to Laos on a sleeper bus from Chiang Mai, which took us through the mountains. While as a single traveller this wouldn’t be too much of an ordeal, it was a long and difficult travel day with young children, so my first bit of advice when travelling to Luang Prabang via Chiang Mai, is to travel in by plane.

 

Where to stay

We stayed in Matata Garden Guest House, which was quite nice (although a little noisy) for a relatively low budget. The rooms were clean and spacious, the staff were incredibly helpful and there is a small outdoor area for children to run around in.

Outdoor area of Matata Garden Guest House

Matata Garden Guest house

 

What to do in Luang Prabang with young children

Pha Tad Ke Botanical Gardens

On our first day in Luang Prabang, we took a stroll down to the river and came across the offices for Pha Tad Ke Botanical Gardens. After purchasing our tickets, we climbed down the steps to the river bank and boarded a boat. Cruising down the river, we got our first glimpses of the beautiful landscape surrounding Luang Prabang, before reaching our destination a short 15 minute ride across the river. Disembarking from the boat, we stepped across a slightly wobbly platform before reaching the steep steps, lined with bamboo rails that lead the way to the botanical gardens.

Mekong river Laos- view from Pha Tad Ke Botanical Gardens

Pha Tad Ke Botanical Gardens, Laos

 

The Botanical Gardens is split into a number of different sections, from medicinal plants and a orchid nursery to a bamboo pathway and a palm tree garden. We made our way along the different pathways taking in the exotic plants and running underneath a canopy of butterflies, before having a lunch of fruit salad and coconut water beside the pond.

Pha Tad Ke Botanical Gardens, Laos

Pha Tad Ke Botanical Gardens, Laos

Pha Tad Ke Botanical Gardens, Laos

Pha Tad Ke Botanical Gardens, Laos

Pha Tad Ke Botanical Gardens, Laos

Pha Tad Ke Botanical Gardens, Laos

Bamboo path Pha Tad Ke Botanical Gardens, Laos

Bamboo path Pha Tad Ke Botanical Gardens, Laos

Family at Pha Tad Ke Botanical Gardens, Laos

 

We spent the afternoon taking the gentle hike up to a bamboo viewing platform, where we took in the backdrop of picturesque blue mountains, against the green fields of grazing buffalo. To end the day we boarded back onto one of the regular timetabled boats and made our way back across the river.

Luang Prabang with young children

Pha Tad Ke Botanical Gardens, Laos

Pha Tad Ke Botanical Gardens, Laos

 

Kuang Si Waterfalls

Kuang Si Waterfalls is the natural gem of Northern Laos and something not be missed when visiting Luang Prabang with young children. The vibrant blue waters, cascading waterfalls and gentle hike is an outdoor haven for nature loving children. There is also a bear sanctuary, a butterfly farm and many different street food vendors nearby, which are all great for little explorers.

Kuang Si Waterfalls with kids

 

A Countryside Tour visiting villages

We like to get out into the rural heart of the destinations we visit, as that tends to be where we find the most authentic experience of what life is really like in that area. We stumbled across a great countryside excursion that had only recently been set up. The tour takes you two villages on the outskirts of Luang Prabang, where local people show off their skills weaving bamboo and fishing before sitting down with you for lunch. It isn’t the polished sort of tour that you will find in the bigger cities, but it is the perfect excursion for travellers looking to learn more about life in rural Laos.

Visiting village on countryside tour of Laos

Building bamboo den while visiting village on countryside tour of Laos

 

Luang Prabang Night Market

Luang Prabang’s Night Market is one of our favourite night markets that we visited since beginning our travels in South East Asia. There is less hustle and bustle compared to the night markets in Thailand and Vietnam, which allows you to slowly make your way through. There are beautiful items from carefully crafted 3D cards to beautifully stitched cuddly toys. The street food on offer is also absolutely amazing, especially the crepe and coconut pancake stands. The prices are reasonable and the market traders are brilliant with children, making it a great opportunity to teach children how to pay for their items.

 

Giving Back in Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is generally a lot less developed that western countries, with bookshops being a rarity and limited career opportunities. However, there are a number of different people and initiatives in place that are a catalyst for change in the country.

 

Volunteering

The guide for our countryside tour was a man called Jer, who has set up a great after school initiative that teaches children from rural villages to speak English. He told us that in Luang Prabang, tourism is the most lucrative way of earning money and in order to work in that industry it is essential to speak English as most tourists are English speakers. He invited us down to his class, where we discovered a classroom built by Jer and his students from materials they had sourced themselves. It was such a humbling experience and one that I recommend looking into if travelling to Luang Prabang. To learn more about Jer’s initiative, take a look at his website Laos Learns English to see how you can support his work through volunteering and donations.

Volunteering teaching in Laos

Volunteering teaching in Laos

Donate

Earlier in this post I mentioned the bear sanctuary at Kuang Si Waterfalls. This is a great conservation effort that not only offers a sanctuary for bears saved from a life of misery, but also works hard to protect bear in the wild. You can donate to this sanctuary specifically on your visit, or you can donate to the organisation Free the Bears that run a number of projects alongside this one to help protect bears.

Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre

 

Pass on

In the heart of Luang Prabang sits a quaint little bookshop called L’Etranger, Books and Tea that sells some well worn books. L’Etranger, Books and Tea was the first licensed bookshop in Laos since the communist Era and is a great spot for grabbing a good cup of tea and sticking your nose into a book. Books are difficult to come by in Luang Prabang, so donations are always welcomed. We had a few books that we had finished by the time we reach Luang Prabang and it seemed silly to continue carrying them around, so we took them down and donated them. If anything it frees up a bit of space in your pack for some traveller souvenirs from the market.

 

Alternatively if you have children’s books, you can take them down the children’s cultural centre. There is also the option to teach a class or donate other supplies. You can find out more about this by visiting their drop off centre while in Luang Prabang.

 

Luang Prabang isn’t really the first place you think of visiting with little ones, but we absolutely loved our time there and found it a great place to visit with little ones.

 

Take a look at vlog about our time in Luang Prabang:

Have you ever been to Luang Prabang with young children? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also follow me on Pinterest.

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17 thoughts on “Luang Prabang with young children

  1. I love a visit to a botanical garden and these look like nothing I’ve ever seen. That red fruit (?) looks spectacular! The night market sounds great too, although I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to go with our two children – maybe when they’re a bit older!

    1. Luang Prabang is such a fantastic place to visit and the botanical garden was absolutely beautiful. We have actually found that generally Asia is quite easy to travel around and the boys have had such a wonderful time on our adventures.

  2. Wow it looks absolutely stunning! I love your posts as they remind me that having children shouldn’t restrict where we travel. I would never have considered somewhere like this for young children before now, but it really does look like the best adventure!

    1. Thank you for your comment. I think it is important to do research before visiting any destination, but that goes for anything. We’ve planned our route around places that are safe and places that have a lot to entertain the children. We’ve found travelling in some places so cheap and the people so friendly that it has been easier to travel in some areas of South East Asia than some places we have travelled to in Europe. It has been such a wonderful adventure, with so much to see and do.

  3. I am still amazed at each post about your adventure. Those waterfalls look amazing. I did wonder if you were going to say you taught at the school. You have found some great projects to get involved with on your travels. Next time the boys outgrow certain books I am going to look to see if we can get them sent over x

    1. Thank you for your comment. Oh that is so amazing and incredibly kind of you. I know Jer and the children would really appreciate anything you can sent to him x

    1. It is a stunning place to visit and one of our favourite destinations while on our travels around South East Asia so far. We hope you continue to enjoy following our travels!

    1. I don’t think Laos is often through of as a travel destination, which is a shame because it is so incredibly beautiful and the people very welcoming.

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