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When is the best time to visit Luang Prabang?

| Words by Rachel McCombie |

Luang Prabang is one of the best-loved stops on a tour of Laos, and it’s not hard to see why. But when is the best time to plan your trip?

Nestled on the confluence of the Khan and Mekong Rivers in Laos, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang is full of interest. European architecture left behind by French colonials mixes with traditional Laotian wooden houses, and Buddhist monks in saffron robes walk the streets at dawn collecting alms. Luang Prabang is easy to explore on foot, but going at the right time of year will enable you to enjoy its winding streets and beautiful temples in comfort. Keep reading to find out when to go.

Luang Prabang’s Seasons

Luang Prabang has an annual average temperature of 77°F. Like other countries in Southeast Asia, it’s subject to two seasons, dry and wet, which will have a bearing on your experience of visiting - but perhaps not in the way you might expect.

Key highlights

  • November to January: dry season is high season, when most people visit
  • March: high humidity and temperatures in the 90s mean this isn’t the best time to visit Luang Prabang
  • August: the wettest month of the year, with flooding a possibility
  • September/October: dragon boat races on the Nam Khan river are a must-see

November to May sees the most sunny days in Luang Prabang

Dry Season - November to May

Luang Prabang’s dry season lasts from November to May, but most people visit between November and January, when temperatures are particularly pleasant. This does, however, mean that accommodation is more expensive at this time of year, and restaurants and places of interest are more crowded. From March to May, the mercury climbs as high as 38°C (100°F) - which, as you can imagine, can get rather uncomfortable in the high humidity. If you do happen to visit around mid-April, you’re likely to encounter the festivities associated with the Laos New Year celebrations, which include the tradition of throwing water - welcome relief from the heat.

Waterfalls around Luang Prabang are most impressive during wet season.

Rainy Season - May to October

The rainy season in Luang Prabang isn’t anything like as bad as it sounds, and it’s actually a surprisingly good time to visit Luang Prabang. It mostly means that there will be afternoon showers, with plenty of sunshine the rest of the time. Temperatures are cooler, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as they’re still over 20°C (70°CF) and perfectly comfortable. The rainiest months are August and September, when the Mekong sometimes experiences flooding.

With humidity lower, the air is fresher - and all that afternoon rain means that the jungle vegetation and rice paddies are at their most lush and green. Flowers are in colourful bloom, attended by hordes of beautiful butterflies, and the waterfalls - which often dry up in the dry season - are at their most impressive at this time of year. What’s more, with fewer tourists around, accommodation is cheaper and restaurants are easier to get into.

Another good reason to visit in Rainy Season: September or October sees dragon boat racing on the Nam Khan river take centre stage in Luang Prabang, bringing competitors from surrounding villages and an atmosphere of palpable excitement.

Planning a trip to Luang Prabang? Take a look at our range of small group tours to Laos.