Small though very beautifully located between the mountains and along the Mekong river, Luang Prabang is the touristic beating hearth of Laos. Its international airport adds a positive figure to the number of tourists visiting this city. Luang Prabang is cut in two parts as the Nam Khan river-end flows into the Mekong river. The city is build on a hill so you need to do some climbing when exploring the city.
In the 10th century the area of Luang Prabang was known as Muang Sawa. In 1995 Luang Prabang became an Unesco heritage, because of this kept its beautiful French-Indonesian architecture. The old city area is locked between the Mekong river and the Nam Khan river. Walking at Souliyavongsa street you have the Mekong river at one side with the historic buildings on the other side.
When walking with the river on the left side of you, you will arrive at the point where the Nam Khan river flows into the Mekong River. Also here the street name changes into Soukkaseum street. At this spot there is access to a beautiful park. When walk further down there is he 1st bamboo foot bridge to cross the Nam Khan river. The bridge is only accessible in the dry season.
Continuing the walk at Soukkaseum street there is the 2nd bamboo foot bridge, also this one is only accessible in the dry season. When crossing the Nam Khan river at this bridge there, then on the other end you arrive in the new city at the Wat Phan Luang temple. There are several temples on this side of the river. When walking into the direction of the 1st foot bridge you will pass several of these temples.
Most of the temples in Luang Prabang are from the Theravada Buddhism. Maybe the most impressive Theravada Buddhist temple is Wat XiengThong. This temple is located in the old city at Sisavangvong street. The temple area is quite impressive, as the temple has its gold plated walls, red roof and the blossom trees around it. The smaller buildings with the bell and Buddha statue inside are beautifully decorated in harmony with the main temple.
Sisavangvong street is the main street in the old city center. Besides temples you can find the Royal palace museum here, on the opposite side of Phousi hill. Enter the gate at Haw Pha Bang you have the royal palace museum in front of you. With its impressive Garden the Royal palace museum offers more surprises inside. After entering the museum at the entrance hall you have the kings reception room on the right. This room is filled with paintings and canvasses the life in the Old Luang Prabang.
Straight forward from the Entrance hall there is the throne hall with its impressive mosaics of multicolored mirrors. You can easily forget the time here when admiring these mosaics, because they catch you when sunlight shines playfully through them. The Museum has many chambers including the dining hall, Library, Kings bedchamber , Queens bedchamber, diplomatic gifts room and more.. Outside you next to the museum building you can view the kings old cars collection and the golden royal carriages.
Across the street of Royal Palace Museum you can climb up to the top of Phousi mountain. Phousi or Sacred hill is the spiritual center of the city. Though there is little to see on the hill itself, the hill has become a tourist ritual to view the sunset from here. As many cities also Luang Prabang has its markets. Especially the night markets near Sisavangvong street are a local and tourist attraction, therefore usually very crowded.
Some highlights of the night market are the delicious fresh-fruit shakes which are prepared while waiting, the paintings sold and the souvenirs made from the iron of the bombs that where dropped in Laos during the Vietnam war. There is a lot more to do around the city area for instance a visit to the Elephant village or the Tad se waterfall. Another great hike to do is to cross river vehicle ferry and visit Wat Chom pet and Wat Xiengmen..
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Laos Vang Vien Cycling in the area with visit to Kaeng Yui waterfall