The Bamboo Bridges of Luang Prabang
The bamboo bridges are one of Luang Prabang’s most iconic sights and appear on many famous photos of the town.
They are built by a local family every year to make the journey from the old quarter of Luang Prabang to the main markets much easier.
Whilst they look a bit insecure they are actually remarkably sturdy. Bamboo is an incredibly strong material (2-3 times stronger than most timbers) and we saw it in use across Asia as scaffolding.
They are an incredible construction, with only ropes holding them together. No nails, concrete or steel here!
Luang Prabang’s bamboo bridges are for people on foot only, motorbikes and scooters are not allowed. If you need to cross the river by vehicle then head round to the Old French Bridge (more details below)
Where Are Luang Prabang’s Bamboo Bridges?
One is at the mouth of Nam Khan river which is a tributary of the Mekong and is perfect for those incredible Laos sunsets.
The other bamboo bridge is about 600m upstream, at the bottom of Mount Phosi – which dominates this part of Luang Prabang – and one road across from Sakkaline Road which is where the main Alms Giving ceremony takes place at sun-rise.
Please note the bridges are only in place for six months of the year. When it is rainy season (May to October) the bridges are removed and stored in a local forest because the water levels get too high and the current too strong.
Be sure to visit the bridges at night as they are beautifully lit up.
How Much Does It Cost to Cross the Bridge?
There is a small charge for tourists to cross each of the bamboo bridges.
The one near the mouth of the river is 10,000 kip per person* (around $1.15) for a return ticket.
The second bridge costs 7,000 kip per person* (around $0.80). Make sure you keep the ticket so you don’t have to pay again when you come back.
This money goes towards maintenance of the bridge and paying a small salary to the local Lao family who rebuild it at the beginning of the dry season.
Whilst they are a photographic novelty for travellers, they are a lifeline for the local community so it only feels right to me that tourists should pay to help keep them going.
*Price correct as of December 2019
Dyen Sabai Restaurant and Bar
Dyen Sabai restaurant and bar is on the opposite bank of the Nam Khan river by the second bamboo bridge.
It is a great place to stop off with amazing views back down to the river. It can get very busy so if you’re heading over at a popular time of day it’s best to book in advance.
Alongside the normal restaurant tables are areas where you can lie out on cushions under canvas canopies. It’s amazing how quickly an afternoon can disappear with a Beer Lao in hand.
My recommendation is the Lao tasting platter or Laos BBQ and some local rice whisky, though go easy!
The Old French Bridge
Aside from the bamboo bridges in Luang Prabang, there is also another river crossing that we thought was pretty cool.
The Old French Bridge (or just Old Bridge as it is known locally) dates back to the 1920s when Laos was a French colony and they were trying to make it easier to navigate.
Below is a video I recorded whilst we were there.
The bridge is very narrow with only scooters using it whilst we were there.
Pedestrians have to use narrow plank walkways which hang out over the muddy river on either side.
Not only were they a bit bouncy but there were a lot of planks completely missing! Whilst the views over the river are stunning it pays to keep your eyes looking forward as you may end up with an unexpected drop into the water.
I don’t know about you but I feel like Luang Prabang’s bamboo bridges are actually safer than this one!
Luang Prabang Tours
There is loads to do in and around Luang Prabang (see my list below) but some of the most exciting sights, such as Kuang Si Falls and the Whisky Village are outside the town.
8 Awesome (and 4 Alternative) Things To Do in Luang Prabang
I love using local guides and Get Your Guide makes that process easier. I have used them to book tours in over 20 countries around the world and have not been let down once.
Below are some of the most popular tours in and around Luang Prabang.
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