There is an amazing sunset almost everyday in Luang Prabang. Not to be cynical, but thanks to all the forest and crop burning and thousands of open-air barbecues, the air in Luang Prabang is always hazy. Although not the healthiest air to breathe, this haze lends itself to some spectacular sunsets everyday.
However, there is a uniqueness that makes sunsets in Luang Prabang even more spectacular, and that is the Mekong River. Everyday the setting sun casts an elongated reflection across this river, like a golden beam.
If you walk around the art shops in the town, you’ll even notice many paintings of this view. In fact, I bought a t-shirt with this view printed on it. But of course, while you’re in the city, that’s the view of the sunset you want to chase.
So where can you catch the most beautiful views of the sunset in Luang Prabang? Let me give you my top 3 spots.
3. Mount Phou Si
It’s hard to ignore the highest hill in the middle of the old town of Luang Prabang. Mount Phou Si (literally, sacred hill), is a local religious site, and houses several Buddhist shrines. And it is, by far, one of the most popular places to catch the sunset.
To get to the top of Mount Phou Si, you’ll need to climb about 300 steps, and there’s also an entrance fee of 20,000 Kip. The entrance is to visit the temple, Wat Chom Si, which is beautiful and while you’re up there, you must definitely visit the temple.
But as you step behind the temple, you’ll instantly realize why this is such a popular spot almost anytime of the day.
Mount Phou Si lies between the Mekong and the Nam Khan rivers and offers sweeping panoramic views of the entire city of Luang Prabang set against the mountains.
Dozens and dozens of people gather here every evening to witness the sun set behind the hills.
Unfortunately, it’s popularity means that it gets crazy crowded, to the point where it was impossible for me to move. You have to come a couple of hours before the sunset to reserve a good spot for yourself. And once you do, you can’t move from there or you lose it.
I don’t mean to sway you away from Mount Phou Si, but if you only had a day, I would much rather advise you to visit any of the other two spots for sunset.
2. Sunset View Point
My second favourite spot to catch the sunset in Luang Prabang is marked on Google Maps as Sunset View Point. The area is located on the side of the ramp for the cross-river ferry.
It’s all open space, so you can stand on the slope, or along the steps that lead you down to the ferries.
Although this spot is perfect to catch the sunset, there are a couple of problems.
The first is that if you stand too close to the banks of the river, your view will keep getting blocked by incoming ferries. And some of these river cruise ferries are extremely long! So, it takes them a while to pass by.
The second problem is that because you’re so close to the river, the view of the sun’s reflection is at a very low angle for you. Although that’s not really a problem, I did prefer the same view from my number one spot on this list.
Either way, the Sunset View Point next to the cross-ferry ramp is an excellent location to catch the sunset. And to get a good spot, make sure you come come early. It doesn’t get as crowded as Mount Phou Si, but it’s always a good idea to have your pick of a spot.
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1. Open area opposite Saffron Cafe
We discovered this spot purely by accident. We were walking past Saffron Cafe, which is a must visit) when we noticed a small crowd gathering opposite it. When we stepped onto the open area opposite the cafe we noticed the extremely long reflection of the sun on the Mekong. A golden line, stretched across the breadth of this magnificent river!
We immediately sat there in pure amazement as others gathered around us to watch this golden beam shift across the river and slowly fade away.
If it helps we’ve marked the exact spot from where we saw the sunset for you on Google Maps. Be sure to grab a coffee or tea at Saffron Cafe before the sunset.
Catch the sunset in Luang Prabang
I did find the hazy, polluted air of Luang Prabang a bit irritating to breathe but at the same time it really does help diffuse the sunlight and make the sunsets more spectacular. And it also adds a layer of mystery around those hills surrounding the city.
We hope you found this post useful and that it helps you capture some amazing sunsets while you’re in Luang Prabang. Don’t forget to check out more photos from the historic old town of Luang Prabang.