Who goes there: Avalon Waterways, APT, Azamara Club Cruises, Mekong River Cruises, Pandaw, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection.
Cruisers like: Formerly the royal capital of Laos, the old town centre is now a World Heritage Site. The splendid Royal Palace Museum (Haw Kham) and the Wat Xieng Thong are among the best-known historical sites, but the main street is dotted with many smaller wats (temples) such as Wat Hosian Voravihane, well worth seeing. Come to town early to witness hundreds of monks walking the streets collecting alms from locals and visitors. Wat Chom Si is reached by 190 steps and worth the climb for the 360-degree views of the Mekong and farmlands. Further from town are Kuang Si Falls, Tat Sae Waterfalls and Pak Ou Caves, best reached by mountain bike.
Best for: All ages.
Getting around: The main sites in town are within walking distance. Alternatively take a tuk tuk or hire a longtail boats from the main pier to visit nearby villages.
Who goes there: APT, Mekong River Cruises, Pandaw.
Cruisers like: Visitors are spoiled for choice with the many temples and Buddhist monuments. The golden stupa of the 16th-century Pha That Luang is 45 metres tall and said to contain a relic of the Lord Buddha. Also see Wat Si Muang, built on the ruins of a Khmer Hindu shrine, the Lao National Museum, the Wat Ong Teu Mahawihan Buddhist monastery and the impressive stupa of That Dam. For a taste of French colonial charm, pop in to the elegant Settha Palace Hotel for a drink or just to soak up the atmosphere.
Best for: All ages.
Getting around: Walk around the city centre, or hire a bicycle. Taxis are available to travel further afield.
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