Luang Prabang, Laos, credit Mark Lehmkuhler on flickr
Luang Prabang – Laos
The capital of Northern Laos, an UNESCO World Heritage Site and described by some as the most beautiful city in Southeast Asia. Yet, due its location, rarely features on travellers destinations.
The city is located on a peninsula at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong River. It consists of 58 adjacent villages, of which 33 are within the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The literal translation of Luang Prabang is “Royal Buddha Image.”
Luang Prabang received its UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1995 for its “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.
The area is well known for the incredible temples and monasteries, traditional wooden Lao houses, wonderful markets and the surrounding countryside and waterfalls.
Things To Do
Just take a walk around the beautiful streets of Luang Prabang or take a guided tour to experience the full wonder of this city. Featuring a mix of traditional Laos houses, french colonialism and temples.
The highest hill in the area, at 100 metres above sea level, is a popular location to watch the sunrise or sunset or just marvelling in the beautiful views over Luang Prabang, the Mekong and the surrounding countryside.
If you take the trip make sure that you visit one of a number of temples in the area.
Kuang Si Falls are surrounded by incredible, lush jungle and are accessible by a number of trails through the foliage. The three tiers feature a stunning, shallow, pool at the bottom, perfect for a cooling swim.
Tad Sae Waterfall also has pools for swimming and although not as high as Kuang Si, it has more streams flowing into it meaning it is still well worth the visit. Less accesible than Kuang Si, you will probably need to take a boat to get there.
Wat Xieng Thong
One of the oldest and largest temples in the area, build around 1560 by King Setthathirat, ruler of Laos from 1548 to 1571.
Formally the home of Laos coronations, it is still an important temple in Laos.
Don’t miss the Tree of Life mosaic and carvings.
Pak Ou Caves
The journey alone can make the one hour trip to Pak Ou Caves worthwhile. Once there the two caves feature over 4,000 Buddha icons believed to have been left over thousands of years by locals.
Royal Palace Museum
Once the residence of King Sisavang Vong and designed in a mix of traditional Lao culture and French Beaux-Arts.
Dating back to 1513 it is the oldest temple in Luang Prabang. Wonderful Lao architecture and features Buddhist religious items and Lao royal family artifacts.
Wat Long Khoun
The “Monastery of the Happy” Wat Long Khoun was once used as a retreat prior to coronations. Wonderful gilded columns, wood carvings and murals are highlights.
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