One of our favorite places in Asia — Luang Prabang is the splendid old capital of Laos, featuring a cluster of shimmering royal temples and relics of Lao monarchy whose grandeur is almost fading away. Luang Prabang is compact and tiny quite similar to that of a jewelry. It is the setup of the place that makes it appear like a jewel. The entire town is covered on all sides by dense tropical trees, palm trees and several peaks. Viewing from a distance you can only see the golden stupas in the midst of greenery.
This town is located on the meeting point of Khan River and Mekong River on a small piece of land. Initially, entry to this land was cut off by the ramparts in the west and south. The high rocky mountain, Mount Phousi, is centrally located in Luang Prabang. This rocky outcrop has forested slopes and is beautified by sacred stupas and shrines. Touring across Luang Prabang on foot is quite a pleasant experience.
The charm of Luang Prabang has cast its spell on all visitors. It is a place subjected to time warp where orange-robed monks move around, women cycle with parasols to protect them from midday sun and Mekong commerce and market dominate. The golden temples and natural beauty of the place are preserved well. The town’s isolated position has made this possible.
Transportation has largely improved in this town with paved roads entering from Vientiane. Plans have also being made for larger airport. There is also a road that links Luang Prabang to the Chinese border.
Preservation of Luang Prabang
In 1995, in the month of December, Luang Prabang, together with Mekong shoreline, got inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage Site List. According to the UNESCO report, 111 celebrated Lao-French buildings and 33 temples are identified for restoration in which Luang Prabang is regarded as well-preserved traditional town in Southeast Asia. It is a kind of outdoor museum to the tourists.
Villa Santi and Auberge Calao are examples of some of the beautifully restored villas and can be great tourist attractions. The Paphay Guesthouse conserves the tradition of timber house in Laos. Mouang Luang Hotel has an attractive design which is inspired from the temples of Luang Prabang. Travelers can have a great time visiting these preserved treasures during their travel to Luang Prabang.
Festival – Time to party in Luang Prabang
Normally, 2 to 5 days tour to Luang Prabang is sufficient to view its beauty, but at the time of festivals, you must plan for a longer stay, if you are able to find an accommodation. Since Luang Prabang has a connection with grand royalty, its festivals are also elaborate and last for one week or so. During festivals, especially at the time of Pimai or Lao New Year and annual boat race, the place gets packed up.
At Pimai, Luang Prabang people from all provinces form a beeline and have fun and festivity for 4 days. Pimai starts by crowning Miss New Year who parades through the town. This is followed by ceremonial wash of the Buddha statues, procession of the monks, building of small size stand stupas in war as a symbol showing prosperity of the future year, candlelit touring to Mount Phousi, circle dancing and folk singing, fireworks and fairgrounds. During boat races in August, people make race in temple longboats.
Visitors will have a gala time enjoying the different festivals in their Luang Prabang tours!!!