Phenomenal Luang Prabang

Travelling with a camera to Luang Prabang I can see why it is officially described as the best-preserved city in Southeast Asia. Unusually, the whole city was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.  Check out my VLOG.

Luang Prabang sits in northern Laos, in a valley at the joining of the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers. Mount Phou Si is 100m high and provides great views of both rivers in the centre of the Old Town.  The hill is a local religious site, and houses several Buddhist shrines. Be warned, it is quite a climb, but well worth it.  The city is an exceptional example of traditional Lao architecture also mixed with European influences. It’s well known for its many Buddhist temples and monasteries called ‘wats’. Some are the most important in Laos for varying reasons.  You can’t miss them when you are out and about.

Haw Prabang
The buildings are best viewed early in the morning for two reasons. A, it is much cooler and B, more importantly, you can fully appreciate the beautiful and intricate architecture before the locals and tourists alike fill the streets.  Bicycle travel wouldn’t normally be on my list for any city visit in Asia! However, the Old Town here is more tranquil and buses aren’t allowed in the centre. Also, many roads are one way once you have circumnavigated the outskirts. Just take care at roundabouts and junctions, as here the rules are – there are no rules!
The 3 Nagas Hotel is notable for several reasons:
  • The beautiful architecture and history.
  • A great place to sit & people watch while enjoying a cocktail, dinner or homemade ice cream in the former Royal family’s official ice cream parlour.
  • One of the only 2 original Citroen’s (model 11 / 1952) in Laos sits outside. It was custom ordered at the same time as one made for the King, which is currently exhibited in the Royal Museum in Luang Prabang.
3 Nagas Hotel & Ice Cream Parlour
Model 11 Citroen

There is a humongous daily night market in the city.  The goods are top quality and extremely cheap for us westerners.  You are never hassled here, ask for a price and they will tell you – no pressure sales.  Haggle if you wish, but please, don’t quibble over 20p, the Laos people don’t have a lot monetary wise.  By the night market is food street.  Freshly cooked food with locals and tourists enjoying the freshly cooked fare.  A little further out of town is Phousi Market – anything and everything for sale here.  Mainly used by the locals, however, tourists are welcomed and it is a great place for street photography.

Crossing the bamboo bridges and watching the daily alms giving ceremony are a must – see my other blogs to find out more.

Bamboo Bridge
Buddhist Alms Giving Ceremony
In 1925, later the filmmakers of King Kong shot documentary footage of a Lao family in the jungle.  It premiered in 1927 then mysteriously disappeared for 60 years.  It was re-edited in the 1990s and is a masterpiece of its time.  Pop by the Victoria Xiengthong Palace Hotel where you can watch ‘ Chang’ each evening at 7pm.  Entry is free.  A great way to spend an hour in the beautiful garden setting and marvel at this wonderful film.
Luang Prabang in one word?  Phenomenal 

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