Visitors to Luang Prabang in Laos should brace themselves for the most gentle, delicious sensory overload. Whether breathing in the heady perfume of frangipani trees and fresh coffee or observing the elegance of gold and burgundy wats, it doesn't take long to realize that luxury is woven into the essence of this place. Here are a few of our favorite ways to indulge.
Where - Kounxoua St. in Ban Vat Nong
Why - A gourmands delight, this brasserie's lively atmosphere and signature dishes like buffalo steaks keep connoisseurs coming back time and again.
Sofitel 3 Nagas
Where - Sakkaline Rd
Why - Authentic, sumptuous, and beautifully presented, a meal at Les 3 Nagas is a reflection of the charm and style perfected in the adjacent 3 Nagas hotel. Dessert lovers will find their Laotian-accented creme brulee heavenly, and anything grilled is guaranteed to please the most discerning of palates. Whether you stay for dinner or stay for a few nights, expect a unique sensory treat.
Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center
Where - At the foot of Phousi Hill (behind Dala Market)
Why - The only independent non-profit museum and resource centre in Laos, dedicated to the collection, preservation, and interpretation of the traditional arts and lifestyles of the country's ethnic groups. A great place to discover the beauty of local traditions and to shop for exceptional textiles, jewellery and crafts.
Pathana Boupha Antique House
Where - 26/4 Ban Visoun
Why - Step into this old French mansion and enter a world of antique statuary, jewellery, silverwork, and relics from the Lao monarchy (currency and old photos, mostly). Quality textiles from diverse ethnic groups are also available.
Caruso Lao Home Craft
Where - 60, Sakkaline Rd
Why - The vision of Canadian born designer and a resident of Asia for over 30 years - Sandra Yuck, Caruso offers a sophisticated mix of handcrafted items.
Where - 24/6, 01 Xieng Muan
Why - There's a stunning selection to browse here. If jewellery is your weakness, consider yourself warned!
The Night Market
Where - cnr Th Sisavangvong & Th Kitsarat
Why - At dusk each evening, vendors set up shop selling everything from good silks and jewelry to more commercial items like Tshirts. For proponents of easy pieces that are easy on the budget.
Belmond La Residence Phou Vao
Colonial charm is perfected at Belmond La Residence Phou Vao. Perched on a hilltop overlooking Lao Prabang and neighboring mountains, this Orient Express hotel has become synonymous with it's open air spa (the first luxury spa to open in Luang Prabang) and tranquil atmosphere.
Some places might talk about the royal treatment, but at Villa Maly you're guaranteed to get it, as this was once the home of Lao royalty. With abundant gardens, chic interiors and excellent location in one of Lao Prabang's exclusive neighborhoods, this Vila is a dream of a destination.
No one does luxury quite like Aman - understated, elegant, gracious and with every detail beautifully realized. Located just South of Phousi Hill, this vision of Laotian Luxury is a destination unto itself, yet conveniently located within walking distance to the burgeoning retail and restaurant scene found in the center of town.