Five Reasons Why Luang Prabang is Southeast Asia’s Most Romantic Destination

© Michael Kern

Southeast Asia has many locations that are a great for a romantic getaway. There are several good reasons however why Luang Prabang is often ranked as ‘the most romantic’ among them.

The small city and former capital city is located in a valley at the confluence of two rivers; the Mekong and Nam Kham. This UNESCO World Heritage site offers its visitors ample natural and historic ambiance, and is the perfect place to fully relax and enjoy all the beauty and charm this unique city offers with a loved one. In terms of romantic appeal, Luang Prabang stands out in many ways among its regional competitors. The five most compelling among them are:

Cleanliness

© Michael Kern

Luang Prabang has a proven record for being a very clean city. In 2014 the city was presented with the prestigious ASEAN Environmentally Sustainable City (ESC) Award. And the city is now preparing its application to compete for the ASEAN Clean Tourist City Standard (ACTCS) award. The ACTCS is based on a myriad of indicators that applicant cities need to demonstrate superiority in. These include cleanliness, green spaces, waste management, pollution, and recycling.

Luang Prabang’s commitment to welcoming its visitors with a focus on cleanliness makes visiting any tourist site or a leisurely stroll at any time of the day or evening on the street, alleys, and surrounding countryside a pleasant and romantic experience.

 

Architecture

© Michael Kern

It’s arguable that no place in Indochina delights its visitors with more historic and well-preserved architecture than Luang Prabang. The vast majority of structures in the city center, with the exception of temples, were built in traditional Laotian or French colonial style; and sometimes a combination thereof. The city is one of the rare variety in which a short-distance walk can last forever as almost all traditional Laotian buildings’ magnificent woodwork, and French villa’s luscious gardens and grandeur seem to naturally command admiration.

 

Kuang Si Falls
This three-tiered waterfall, located about 18 miles from Luang Prabang, is a favorite destination for tourists; in particular couples. The main waterfall measures approximately 200 vertical feet, and as the water continues to flow downhill, it fills several beautifully turquoise-blue colored pools.

While the Kuang Si falls is one of the city’s top tourist attraction, the peaceful forest surroundings can be a nice setting for a romantic picnic.

 

Cuisine

© Michael Kern

It is well known that “love goes through the stomach”. And here too, especially considering the city’s size, Luang Prabang impresses not only with the quality and variety of food available, but most noticeably, with the settings in which a romantic meal or snack can be enjoyed. Any culinary indulgence can begin during the morning hours in any of the plentiful French bakery & pastry shops, where high quality baked goods and other breakfast and brunch favorites are served in utterly charming establishments. There also is no shortage of equally delighting lunch and dinner venues: Most restaurants offer French and Laotian specialties on their menus, which have already caught the attention of food gourmets and have been published by magazines like Gourmet Traveler and Condé Nast Traveler.

 

Temples

© Michael Kern

Regardless of someone’s religious affiliation, Luang Prabang’s temples/wats are something to experience and remember. The city is home to no less than 34 UNESCO-protected wats; some of which are several hundred years old. Most of the city’s temples are not actually considered tourist attractions or relics of a time long gone, but active places of worship in which over 1000 monks study and practice Buddhism.

The strong presence of temples and the spirituality of monks and citizens create a remarkable Zen-like atmosphere which is felt throughout the city. Especially the alms giving ceremonies, a practice dating back to the 14th century, that take place throughout the city every morning as the sun rises, is something peaceful to observe or partake in.

© Michael Kern

Luang Prabang has historically and continues to receive international awards: Quantas Travel Insider listed the city “among 11 of the world’s romantic wedding destinations”, and the UK’s travel magazine Wanderlust has named this destination “Best City” for seven years in its annual Wanderlust Travel Awards.