When I first arrived in Luang Prabang one of the first things I noticed was how charming this city was. There is something about this city that gives you a feeling of calmness and intrigue, pushing you to explore more of this holy city. When I arrived at my guesthouse I asked them of where they recommend I should visit. One of the places they pointed out to me was Mount Phousi. Mount Phousi is a 100m high hill in the centre of the old town of Luang Prabang with stunning 360 degree views of the city from the top. It lies in the heart of the old town and is bordered on one side by the Mekong river and on the other side by the Nam Khan River. At the top is the Wat Chom Si Buddhist temple. From my guesthouse I could actually see the top of Wat Chom Si Temple, and from initial glance it looked like quite a steep climb, so after unpacking my bag I made my way to the top.
Along my way I spotted a vendor selling fresh sugar cane drinks on the side of the street, you’ll see quite a few of these in the city. It’s a very sweet but refreshing drink and definitely worth a try, I ended up having one for each day I was there.
Now if you do your homework you’ll find out the there are two entrances to the top. The most popular and easiest access is located in front of the Royal Palace on Sisavangvong Road in the old town. The second entrance, and the one I took by sheer chance, is the Nam Khan river side. The Nam Khan river entrance is less busy and more scenic in that there are lots of Buddha statues along the way and a section through a temple called Wat Tham Phousi, where I happened to see a couple of young monks going on about their daily chores.
Halfway up the hill, I noticed the views and I could see the Nam Khan river and part of the city, and it only made memore excited to get to the top and see what amazing views were waiting for me. There was also a checkpoint here were I had to pay 20,000 Kip for entry to the top, which is about US$2.50, to which I happily obliged. A word of warning – be prepared to do lots of heavy breathing and sweating especially in the heat – now I was glad that I had the sugar cane drink before the walk! You can purchase water at the checkpoint and also at the top if you get really thirsty, but I advise to take some with you before you go. When I finally reached the top, after about 350-400 steps and 15 minutes later, the views were simply breathtaking. You could see the entire city with the Mekong river on one side and the Nam Khan river on the other, with the stupas of temples dotted around the holy city.
Now I got there around 3pm, well before sunset, so it wasn’t so busy at the time. But as it got closer to sunset more and more people started to arrive and it did get quite busy, this didn’t bother me as I enjoyed the buzz of the excitement of everyone watching the stunning sunset together. There were also some monks at the top that were talking to a lot of the tourists and one started to talk to me, asking me where I am from and where I have been travelling. I understood that this was a regular thing that the monks did to improve their english.
So as the sun set behind the hills on the Mekong river side the tourists left in abundance. I stayed a little bit longer to ponder my thoughts about this enchanting city and then realised it was getting dark quite fast, so I made my way back down the main entrance side into the old town. Make sure you leave before it gets too dark as there are no lights to guide you back. Once I got to the bottom I arrived directly into the night market in the old city where you can buy plenty of local garments and trinkets.
For each day I was there I returned every evening and spent my sunsets at the top. I really enjoyed watching the excitement of the tourists seeing the views and the sunset for the first time and it also gave me a lot of inspiration to think.
AsiaTrips offers personalised tours of Luang Prabang including a visit to Mount Phousi in multi-day and day tours. For further information please visit http://asiatrips.travel/place_entries/asiatrips-laos/