Welcome to the World Heritage town of Luang Prabang
Welcome to Luang Prabang!
Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of Luang Prabang Province in northern Laos, lies in a valley at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers. Inhabited for thousands of years, it was the royal capital of the country until 1975. It’s known for its many Buddhist temples, including the gilded Wat Xieng Thong, dating to the 16th century, and Wat Mai, once the residence of the head of Laotian Buddhism
Luang Prabang was listed the World Heritage Site in 1995 for unique and “remarkably” well preserved architectural, religious and cultural heritage, a blend of the rural and urban developments over several centuries, including the French colonial influences during the 19th and 20th centuries.
XIENGTHONG TEMPLE (Wat Xieng Thong)
Built during the 16th century by King Saya Setthathirath and completed in 1560, Xieng Thong Temple is one of the most interesting examples of traditional Lao art and Buddhist architecture. The ornate carved and gilded funeral vehicle of the former king is kept in one of the buildings in the temple grounds. It is well worth visiting and paying your respects to this temple while in Luang Prabang. This temple was used to organize the highest Royal Ceremonies and houses the bones of King Sisavangvong. The intricate golden facades, colorful murals, glass mosaics and unique three tiered roof make this one of the most beautiful temples in Asia.
THAT CHOMSI – PHOUSI MOUNTAIN
Incredible Mountain it’s located in centre of town visitors will need to climb 328 zigzag stairs up to the top of the Mountain from there you will see a perfect 360 panoramic view of the whole city. Mount Phousi is Luang Prabang Holy Mountain, and at its very top sites the 20 m high Wat Chomsi stupa. Located in the center of Luang Prabang’s old town with the Mekong River on one side, and Nam Khan River on the other.
ROYAL PALACE MUSEUM
Located in the heart of Luang Prabang, the Royal Palace Museum was first constructed in 1904 in the French colonial era. Visit the museum and see the real “Prabang” Buddha image. Pha Bang lives is an easy-to-miss little room surrounded by engraved elephant tusks and three silk screens embroidered by the former queen. To find it, walk east along the palace’s exterior south terrace and peep in between the bars at the eastern end. Note that persistent rumors claims that the image on display here is stored in a vault in Vientiane. The ‘real’ one supposedly has gold leaf over the eyes and a hole drilled through one ankle.
TAD KUANG SI WATERFALL
In the dry season the water at Kuang Si (pictured here) takes on a bluish hue, owing to the presence of minerals like copper. In the wet season the water is a deep green and you can hear the sound of the falls well before you can see them. Look for signs indicating pools for swimming; nearby, you’ll find changing rooms. You can also visit the Bear Rescue Center in the Kuang Si Waterfall.
TAD SAE WATERFALL
These falls feature smaller cascades on a wider tributary. The area around the falls is more built-up than Kuang Si, and there are decks crisscrossing the water where you can relax and enjoy the sights and sounds. Nearby, an elephant park offers visitors the chance to meet, feed, and even ride Asian elephants. Tad Sae requires a ride out of town and then a short trip down the Nam Khan river in a traditional longboat. Tuk-tuks regularly make the 14km trip to the boat launch area and continue to take the boat to the main waterfall about 8 minutes. And also you can go by bicycle takes around 45 minutes. Tad Sae can be dry or mostly dry from February to July, so be sure to check before you go.
ALMS GIVING CEREMONY
The UNESCO World Heritage City of Luang Prabang is the perfect place to see one of the most sacred Lao traditions, the Buddhist Alms Giving Ceremony. Despite being a highly revered ritual for locals, visitors are encouraged to be involved as long as a level of respect is maintained throughout. Alms giving takes place daily as the sun rises, beginning on the main street of Luang Prabang before spreading out to all the side streets. You should buy your offerings (usually food) in advance and arrive with plenty of time to spare as it’s considered very offensive to disrupt the ceremony once it has commenced. Follow the guidance of the locals by kneeling down ready to give your offering to the monks; most common gifts include rice, fresh fruit and traditional sweet snacks. The idea of the alms giving is for the Buddhist monks to make merit and also to collect food for their one meal of a day.
SLOW BOAT & RIVER CRUISE
The waters of the Mekong have for centuries been the major highways in this region, carrying goods, people and ideas up through the heart of Laos. Even today, boat traffic is a busy part of the Mekong. If you like, charter a boat and have your own trip, stopping and looking at what takes your fancy. You can dine on the river or just laze with your camera at the ready. Many popular spots are accessible by boat (some, like a Tad Sae Waterfall and Tham Ting Cave are only accessible by boat). Consider, too, simply hiring a boat to cross the Mekong to visit Chomphet district for a great perspective on the city from across the river. Or take a spectacular sunset cruise to relax and take in the natural beauty.
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