Phou Si © Matsuoka AkiraKaoru
Phou Si is a hill near the confluence of the Mekong and Khan rivers, filled with temples. It is visible all over town and as such acts as a navigation landmark for visitors. The views of Luang Prabhang from the top of the hill are worth the steep walk of 355 individual steps. The lower slopes of the hill are dotted with the city's oldest temples, but the best is the golden stupa of That Chomsi at the top, built in 1804. Visit this wonderful attraction in the early morning, when it is cool and the temples are at their most active, or in the evening for the epic sunsets. Note, however, that sunset is the most popular time to climb the hill and during the peak tourism season it gets very crowded. Those wanting to experience the beauty and serenity of the place without the crowds should visit in the early morning. The climb is a bit easier from the back of the hill, where a trail winds gradually upwards and there are only about a hundred steps to master, as opposed to 300-odd! Some of the most interesting Buddha statues can be found via this back entrance. It's ideal to climb up one way and down the other so that all the views and sights can be appreciated. There is a night market in the road in front of the Old Palace, at the foot of Phou Si, which is worth strolling around if visiting in the evening.