Luang Prabang Overview
Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, Luang Prabang resides by the sacred confluence of the Khan and Mekong rivers. Temples and monasteries dominate any visitor’s itinerary here, with its 33 gilded wats and numerous saffron clad monks. Having received a rush of investment since the 1990’s, once dilapidated French villas have been reimagined as stunning but affordable boutique hotels and hostels. Many of these villas stand today due to Luang Prabang being a royalist stronghold during the wars, and as such escaped the intense US bombing raids that plagued the rest of Northern Laos.
Despite the flood of money and subsequent rise in the population, the city still feels like a sleepy village frozen in time and is a centre for amazing French cuisine, as well as local style Lao food. Beyond the city there are excellent trekking opportunities to caves brimming with religious significance, stunning waterfalls and meandering mountain paths. There are also ample chances for kayaking, zip lining and river cruises. All of this natural splendor is ringed by green mountains covered in mist.
By far the most imposing attraction in Luang Prabang, Phu Si hill towers over the old quarter and Royal Palace. There are two routes to reach the top; on the northern route you can view murals from the 1800’s showing famous moments in Lao history at Wat Pa Huak, and on the southern stands the large Wat Siphoutthabat Thippharam as well as Wat Thammothayalan, ringed by golden Buddhas. There is also the Buddha footprint, which seems suspiciously large for a human footprint.