Luang Prabang is the city in Laos also known as Louanphrabang which means the ‘Royal Buddha Image’. Situated in the northern region of Laos, the city of Luang Prabang has a population of about fifty thousand. It was originally a capital city of the kingdom having the same name. It was also the capital of the Kingdom of Laos till 1975 when the communists took over. Till that time, it was also the seat of the government of Laos. It was the first city in Laos to have a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tourism in the city has increased a lot and many people love visiting this little city at any time of the year. Some say that roaming in streets of Luang Prabang can be a rewarding experience in itself.
Culture and Landmarks:
The culture of Luang Prabang is rich in worshiping. Alms Ceremony is one example of their deep culture and faith. Many monks collect alms of rice from the villagers in the early morning, around 6:00 am. You can see long rows of rice baskets and many stools laid down for the tourists. Majority of the alm givers are tourists who son plastic stools for having some fun and not for actually celebrating the culture in authenticity. But tourists are advised to respect them, dress appropriately hiding your cleavages and keep a distance from them. Also, the tourists should not let their eagerness get in the way of their health and give them food with sure quality. Also, photography is entertained but not be forced.
The royal palace of Luang Prabang is now converted into national museum and is known by the name Haw Kham. It was the official residential place of the King Sisavang Vong and they have built a statue of the king outside the palace for his respect and memory. The palace is a big and historic monument perfectly surrounded by an avenue of tall Palmyra Palm trees. The architecture of the palace is a blended mixture of Lao and ancient French beaux-arts style. The museum has grand display and all the exhibits are labeled in English and everything is well organized. Sometimes, dramas and dance performances are held in this palace in the ancient theatre adjacent to it. Some many famous and significant performances (such as ‘Search of Princess Sida’ which is a royal ballet) are conducted there.
Vat Xieng Toung:
The oldest monastery of this town is the Vat Xieng Toung or Wat Xieng Toung. It is the most beautiful monastery in the country and is the most visited among all. It adopts Laos’ architectural design and is a classic example of this style. It is centered on a 1560 ordination hall/sim. Around this hall, there are many stupas and 3 chapel halls (also known as Hor) which are little and compact. Hor Dai which looks like a tall tomb was actually a library and now holds the Buddha standing statue. The roofs of the monastery are very low and inside the building, there are golden stencil works of art including dharma wheels designed on the ceiling.
To have a good view of the city and watch the city from a decent height, you should go to the Phou Si Hill which is the main hill of Luang Prabang. It is also known as the Chomsy Hill. The hill isn’t too steep for you to be afraid of. Also, the sunset and sunrise events from this hill are exceptionally beautiful. The hill has two entrances; one in the north with 130 steps and other in the east with 190 steps. There is a temple located above the hill. The best time to visit this place is during the evening just before sunset.
Pak Ou Caves:
The worldwide famous “Buddha Caves”, locally known as ‘Pak Ou Caves’ are one of the major attractions of the city of Luang Prabang. They are called ‘Buddha Caves’ because people used these to store the statues of Lord Buddha which were damaged as they believed that throwing those away is evil fate. These are not like normal caves and some of the tourists may be disappointed. There are two caves, at different levels – upper and lower cave. These are at an hour’s distance from the city if travelled by road. While going to the caves, you can also have a stop at the ‘Whisky village’ where you can see how the locals make spirit from the locally grown Laolao rice.
29 kilometers from Luang Prabang located is a very beautiful waterfall named Kuang Si Falls. The fall is large and is multi-staged. You can reach there by a boat or truck. The place is great for relaxing and is worth your entire day. You have food stalls and tourist stalls just outside the waterfalls to keep you there for the whole day. The pools at these place are at different levels are all very safe for bathing. The entire scene is very picturesque.
Apart from these, you can see Tad Sae Waterfalls which are steeped waterfalls and are very beautiful. The tourists can take a bath here, and enjoy the cold water. Elephant rides are also available. You can reach this place by a river boat. All these destinations make Luang Prabang a very amazing tourist place and one of the best holiday destinations.