Located in the northern Laos, Luang Prabang has developed from a small ancient town to become one of the most famous and visited place in the country. Recognized as a UNESCO Heritage Site and considered by many as the heart of Laotian culture, Luang Prabang brings a special experience that is quite different from that of other Asian cities.
Luang Prabang, besides from its great attractions and culture, has the ideal characteristics to be a touristic spot. It is about 350 km north of Laos’ capital Vientiane and it is bordered by the rivers – the Mekong and the Nam Khan rivers – creating such an interesting landscape and mild climate (highest temperature is around 29°C). The rivers also provide beautiful surrounding attractions for the city, giving you more options when visiting it. The town is small in size with well constructed roads which makes it very much “walkable”. Luang Prabang is very affordable as well, making the list of top 10 cheapest travel destinations in 2016 by Price of Travel. So you can be quite sure your trip to Luang Prabang would less likely disappoint you.
The surrounding areas of Luang Prabang are quite beautiful (Image: Internet)
The website of UNESCO stated:
“Luang Prabang is an outstanding example of the fusion of traditional architecture and Lao urban structures with those built by the European colonial authorities in the 19th and 20th centuries. Its unique, remarkably well-preserved townscape illustrates a key stage in the blending of these two distinct cultural traditions”
Profoundly influenced by the French culture but originally an oriental Buddhist town, Luang Prabang paints a colorful but harmonized picture on its streets and buildings. On one block, you would feel just like being on a traditional Asian street with traditional temples and palaces here and there or the traditional wooden house covered with the typical Asian tiles. Walking to the nearby street, however, you would think you are lost in some corner of Paris, being impressed by the beautiful colonial villas or street side coffee shops. The historical buildings and constructions in the city are very well-preserved, enhancing its antique feel.
French influence on the architecture of Luang Prabang (Image: Internet)
Luang Prabang’s name comes from a statue of Buddha, the Prabang, offered by the Cambodians. On certain days of the month, you would catch hundreds of monks in their saffron robes marching the streets collecting food. They represent the Buddhist tradition that Luang Prabang always maintains, making it the centre of Buddhism in the region. This great religious spirit can also be felt by Luang Prabang’s amazing temples and ‘wats’ – ones that are located at what seems like every other street. Luang Prabang’s largest and most beautiful temple, Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham, is believed by many as a must-see attraction when visiting Laos. Luang Prabang was also a royal capital of Laos, especially during the reign of King Sisavang Vong. The most significant royal imprint on the city is the Royal Palace.
The religious spirit is always enhanced in Luang Prabang (Image: Internet)
The traditional and cultural impressions of Luang Prabang are shown in its people’s activities as well. The markets in Luang Prabang, with the hand-made products and souvenirs, are extremely enjoyable for foreigners. People here have sensational weaving and paper making skills. The best version of many delicious traditional Laotian dishes are believed to be in Luang Prabang, including kinds of sticky rice, barbeque meat and fish and some Thai like dishes. Street performers in colorful costumes dance and sing folk Lao music on the streets of Luang Prabang every so often, creating a beautiful cultural scene.
Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham is one of many temples and wats in Luang Prabang (Image: Internet)
As said, besides being very traditional and religious, the European touches on Luang Prabang make it very modern as well. Now that the city has become a tourist center, high-end restaurants and hotels with increasing service quality are appearing more and more. Nightlife in Luang Prabang, with wide range of bars and clubs, is very much enjoyed by many travelers. While small, very little hospitality services are missing in Luang Prabang.
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