Luang Prabang is the former capital of Laos and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage city in 1995. With numerous attractions reflecting Indochinese architecture, Buddhist temples, and colorful cultures, Luang Prabang is considered the spiritual heart of Laos.
Luang Prabang has located about 425km from Vientiane to northern Laos, on the banks of the Mekong River. The current population is about 22,000 people. In the past, it used to be the first capital of Laos. Nowadays, Luang Prabang is recognized by UNESCO as one of the physical cultural heritage of the world.
It attracts tourists from the first coming because of the peaceful and ancient beauty, the buildings with the architecture of Laos and France and the friendly of local people here. All that belongs to the beauty and culture of the old town will make the tourists fall in love.
Luang Prabang History
Luang Prabang was the capital of Lan Xang Empire as known as “The land of million elephants”. It is one of the oldest cities in Laos, which was set up about 1,200 years ago.
The former names of Luang Prabang were Muang Swa and Xieng Dong Xieng Thong. In 1560, it was named Luang Prabang due to the gold Buddha statue given by Cambodians.
In 1707, Luang Prabang became the capital of Luang Prabang independent kingdom, the Lao royals and government were also placed here.
Top Recommended Attractions in Luang Prabang
- Luang Prabang Old Quarter: Setting the location on a peninsula, The Old Quarter of Luang Prabang is a part of the UNESCO Heritage Site in a bustling UNESCO-protected city area combined with history and culture. The quarter is endowed with picturesque scenery nestled among impressive verdant mountains surrounded by the Nam Khan and the Mekong River. Immersing yourself in the tranquility of the quarter, you will be impressed by the charming innocence of the locals and their peaceful life. Without any loudness, all you could hear is the song of the birds tweeting from the lush gardens and a bountiful of bicycles around the streets. It seems that any little whispering sound could disturb the morning serenity.
Luang Prabang Golden Temple
- Wat Xieng Thong: One significant religious emblem of Buddhist architecture, is truly a masterpiece of mosaics and carved wood featuring traditional Lao style. Located in Northern Laos on the bank of the Mekong River, Wat Xieng Thong is considered the most historically impressive temple among Luang Prabang’s ornate ones. The temple characterized 16th-century Lao architecture with elaborate mosaic patterns, wall carvings, Buddhist deities, and valuable treasures as a 12-meter-tall funeral carriage. The sweeping double-tiered roofs, the decorated gold designs, the rich lacquer-like black with gold stenciling columns to the burnished color background, all define the typical Luang Prabang architectural design.
- Royal Palace Museum: Royal Palace Museum is located on the Mekong Riverside, next to Phou Si mountain. The palace was built by the French colonialists for King Sisavang Vong and his family from 1904 to 1909. Royal Palace Museum was designed under the mix of Beaux style of French and Lao traditional style. It is very luxurious with many rooms: council rooms, reception rooms, collection rooms, and living rooms that can be seen in the palace. There is also a large number of ancient paintings and historical photographs in the museum, which will give you a clear understanding of Laos' history. The ceilings and many objects displayed here were all covered by gold.
- Luang Prabang Night Market: The market is open from 18:00 pm to about 23:00 pm daily. It is located in Sisavangvong Street, starting from the Royal Palace Museum. Every night, this 1 km road prohibits traffic from passing and becoming a walking, shopping street. There are more than 300 suppliers of handicrafts made by local people. Besides that, there are many stalls that also sell a huge number of other items such as textiles, fine ceramics, antiques, paintings, tea, coffee, shoes, or even rare spices, etc. There are many interesting items displayed at Luang Prabang night market that you cannot find anywhere else. And the prices are very cheap.
Luang Prabang Culture
Monks Collecting Alms At Dawn, Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang was the first capital of Laos, it is the center of Laos’s culture until today. It is a place to preserve the heritage of art and architecture with more than 30 magnificent palaces, most of them built in the 14th century; about 40 ancient temples built from different ancient dynasties, each temple have a high artistic value; Hundreds of old wooden houses are designed in traditional style along a small street to create a beautiful and peaceful atmosphere.
The Bun Pi Mai water festival is held in April as Lao's New Year festival. The festival includes the Tak Bat ritual and the monks pass through Wat Ho Siang temple. The Royal Ballet Group performs at Phrolak-Phralam Theater on the Royal Palace in Luang Prabang.
Weather in Luang Prabang
The climate in Laos is similar to Vietnam's climate, the average temperature is from 24°C to 33°C. Luang Prabang’s climate has 4 seasons like northern Vietnam.
Laos has the monsoon tropical climate with 2 seasons: dry season and s season. The rain season from May to November and from December to April is the dry season. Base on your plan and the weather you like that you can make the best decisions.
Luang Prabang Transportation
- Airplane: Direct flight from Hanoi to Luang Prabang. For those who come from Ho Chi Minh City, you can fly to Bangkok, then take a flight to Luang Prabang. Prices are from US$ 100 to US$ 200 in return
- Road: At Hanoi Bus Station, there are many buses going to Luang Prabang, the price is about from US$ 40 to US$ 50 for a one-way ticket. From Vinh, Da Nang, or Dien Bien Phu city, they offer buses to Luang Prabang daily.
- In Luang Prabang, if you travel in a group by tuk-tuk, you should bargain to have a lower price.
The food at Luang is mostly grilled and spicy dishes and has few vegetables.
- Lao beer is one of the drinks that many tourists must try here. Price US $1 - $2
- You should try dishes made from fish and shrimp caught in the Mekong River near Wat Xieng Thoong Temple. Price is around US $2 - $5 / meal / person
- Women should pay attention to dressing formally when visiting the temple and the Royal Palace.
- Use sunscreen, hat, or umbrella because the weather here is quite sunny and hot.
- Night market sellers often offer a higher price, you should bargain about 50-70%.