Luang Prabang is the jewel of Indochina, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995. The ancient royal city is surrounded by mountains at the junction of the Mekong and its tributary, the Khan river. In the centre of the city is Mount Phousi with stunning views of the surrounding temples and hills. Luang Prabang is a city where time seems to stand still. As part of the UNESCO plan, new buildings have been limited and development must be in keeping with this magical place.
Luang Prabang has dozens of temples and religious sites, both large and small. The best way to see these sites is by foot or by bicycle. The biggest concentration of temples is in the old quarter, much of which forms a peninsula between the Mekong and the Khan rivers. In between temple visits, there are many small restaurants perched high on the banks of the Mekong where you can watch life go by at a very slow pace.
: : Tourist Attractions in Luang Prabang
Wat Xieng Thong
Wat Xieng Thong is a masterpiece of Buddhist architecture of the 16th century, impressing visitors with its golden facades and mural paintings. The temple wass used for the highest royal ceremonies and to temporarily house the bodies of the deceased kings.
The temple is not only the most beautiful in Luang Phrabang but also in the whole of Laos. Rdified by King Setthathirath, it was built very close to the Maekonh River. With its roof slopping down to the ground, it is characteristic of Luang Phrabang architecture from the time of the kingdoms of Lang-wang and canna. Its rear elevation is docorated with a very nice coloured mosaic, on a red background, representing the "tree of life". Continuing through the sanctuary you will find the red chapel whose external walls are adorned with glass mosaics, of Italian ispiration, which give off a very nice effect. inside you can admire a laying Buddha, a rare jewel of Lao statuary.
Situated 150m and 300 steps up above the peninsula with spectacular views of the city and surrounding countryside. The climb is tiring, but the views from the top are certainly worth it. From the top, you can see the old Royal Palace, now the Palace Museum, the rivers and surrounding villages. The temple has a gold spired stupa that can be seen from most parts of the city.
Luang Phrabang Royal Palace (Le Palais Royal)
Now a museum houses a collection of artefacts belonging to former rulers of the Kingdom of Lane Xang. Photography is not allowed in the museum.
Pak Ou Caves
The caves are located from Luang Phrabang on the banks of Maekhongand the mount of Nam-Ou. The slow boat takes at least one hour but it is a superb trip. Pak Ou is a well known Buddhist site and a place of pilgrimage, having thousands of Statues and statuettes, in the the tradditional Luang Phrabang style, mainly of the Buddha Stairs connect a second, deeper cave known as Tham Phum. Outside the cave is the impressive sight of steep cliff falling sharply into the Nam Ou.
Xang Hai Village
Near Pak Ou caves, downriver towards Luang Prabang is the village of Ban Xang Hai, famous for its manufacture of rice whiskey. The villagers carry water from the Mekong and use it to soak rice in large jars which sit for several days. The fermented rice yields alcohol which can be drunk as a cloudy liquid, or distilled to make a fire water.
Situated four km from LuangPrabang is a small village famous for its weavings. There is a small market set up here, and you can wander in the village and see village women weaving underneath their homes
About 30km south of Luang Prabang, passing through many ethnic minority villages are the magnificent Kuang Sii Waterfalls. There are trails all around the falls and visitors can swim in the lower pools. The falls has a covered area for eating and there are several stalls serving simple Lao food and drink. A full day should be allowed for a trip to the falls.
The Grave of Henri Mouhot
For francophones and others, 3 km from the village of Ban Phanom, is the grave of the French explorer Henri Mouhot who discovered the Angkor Wats. After travelling up the Mae Khong to Luang Phrabang, he died there in 1816 exhausted by fevers. Luying forgotten, his grave was discoverd in 1990 If only beacuse of Angkor, it's worth a short visit as genuine adventurers are rare these day