Exploring Phousi Hill, also known as Phou Si or Mount Phousi, is one of those must-do activities that travellers to Luang Prabang do, as much for the sweeping vistas of the sleepy town, the Mekong River and Khan River, and the surrounding mountains, as for the hidden temples, shrines, stupas, and golden Buddhas that dot the lush 100 metre-high hill.
Bounmee, our guide for the temple walking tour we did, advised us to use the ‘back entrance’ to Phousi Hill, as we strolled past the steep dog-legged stairs that start on Ratsavong Road. We made a note to return later.
We followed his advice and we were glad we did, as it felt much more adventurous to climb up alone through the verdant greenery than to take the busier staircase directly up the hill from in front of the National Museum.
We were quite alone, except for a novice monk searching for something in the undergrowth. What he was looking for, we’ll never know. Perhaps he was doing some foraging.
Aside from the splendid views (although it was a tad hazy when we visited), there are a few sights to snoop at while you’re there, including Wat Pa Huak with a stupa and pretty sim, the golden stupa on top of the hill, a small chapel, Wat Phra Buddabhat, the Buddha’s footprint temple with a seated Buddha image in a grotto, and Kuan Ou, the Goddess of the Waters shrine.
Tips to Exploring Phousi Hill
- Dress modestly as this is a spiritual place of worship. Cover your shoulders and legs; don’t wear short shorts or shoestring straps.
- You don’t need a guide to visit — this activity is much more about the sense of discovery, and in a way it’s more fun to poke around on your own.
- There is an entrance fee of 20,000 kips to pay, regardless of which stairs you use, so take some money.
- Take plenty of bottled water with you — it can be very humid.