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Old capital city of the former Lao Kingdom.
Listed by the UN as World Heritage.
Having been spared the population explosion that has burdened its neighbors,
Laos is also one of the least developed countries in Asia. Sheltered in a scenic
mountain setting in the north, tiny Luang Prabang is an enigmatic example of
Built on a peninsula at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers, the sleepy former capital seems oblivious to change and tourism. With a hand-full of Buddhist temples, French colonial mansions and a trickle of visitors, this is one of the more unique and tranquil stops in all of Southeast Asia.
Since Luang Prabang has been listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage, tourism has been growing considerably.
While there are a few hotels and restaurants for visitors, do not come here expecting luxury accommodations and nightlife. Hotels are comfortable (a/c, hot water), but there may be no TV, so bring a book - be sure to book ahead for the beautiful Villa de la Princesse. The streets are small, the buildings date to the French colonial era and it gets very quiet after dinner. The isolation also assures that the town is devoid of tourist trinket shops, hawkers, begging children, traffic and pollution. This is all part of why this town of fewer than 20,000 is a unique destination.
The Luang Prabang skyline is dominated by a large hill called Phu Si (or Phoussy). A good portion of the town's temples is between Phu Si and the river, including Wat Xieng Thang. Built in 1560 and finely decorated and with roofs sweeping low to the ground as in northern Thailand, this is the most beautiful temple in the area. The rear wall is covered with an impressive "tree of life" mosaic on a red background. Near the east gate to the temple is the royal funeral chapel, which houses an impressive 12-meter high funeral chariot and the royal urns.
The Royal Palace was built in 1904. When the monarchy was dethroned in 1975 by the Vietnamese backed Pathet Lao, the king and his family were exiled (king and queen died years later in captivity) and the palace was converted to a museum. It is a beautiful example of Lao architecture and houses many fine artifacts. Well worth a visit..