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Luang Prabang

UNESCO Site - Beginner




T he former capital city of Luang Prabang became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995 because of the city’s traditional architecture and French colonial designs. LPB, as it is often called, is located on the banks of the Mekong and the Nam Khan Rivers in the mountains regions of Laos. Luang Prabang used to be the capital of the Laotion Kingdom and home to the royal family. Today the capital is about 300 kilometers south of LPB, in the city of Vientiane. The name Luang Prabang means “Royal Buddha Image” and the city was once the center of Buddhism in the region.

The city is known for its beautiful temples and peaceful atmosphere. Most of the city’s UNESCO sites are located on the peninsula that comes between the Mekong and the Nam Khan Rivers. The protected areas include beautifully decorated Buddhist temples as well as buildings and homes designed with a mix of French and Lao architecture. A popular tourist activity in Luang Prabang is to wake up early in the morning to watch the monks collecting alms from the local people. Tourists can also give alms. The peninsula also offers a night market with food stalls and souvenir shops as well as a wide variety of cafes and restaurants. Local dishes include river seaweed, buffalo meat, river fish and Lao whiskey. There are many international food choices as well.

One of the most famous places in the city is Chom Si Temple. This temple sits at the top of Phou Si Mountain in the center of the city’s peninsula. More than 300 paved steps help visitors climb about 100 vertical meters to the top of the hill. Entrance to this area costs around $2.50 USD and offers wonderful 360 views of the city below. Sunset is an especially good time to enjoy the views.

The most important religious structure in the city is located at the tip of the peninsula where the two rivers join. Xieng Thong Temple is considered the ceremonial entrance to the city and was built in the 1500’s. This was the location for the crowning of past Lao kings.

Not far south of the city is the Kuang Si Falls which is a beautiful cascading waterfall with a bear sanctuary, walkways, bridges and pools for swimming. To the north of the city, on the banks of the Mekong River is Pak Ou Caves. Chartered boats can be arranged to reach the caves which are filled with hundreds of Buddha statues.

Luang Prabang is also famous for Lao silk, jewelry and handicrafts. Tourists can enjoy elephant rides and hiking tours outside of the city as well. There is an international airport only 15 minutes from the city center as well as a bus station that offers several transportation options. The city is home to about 56,000 people.  


Source: http://www.visit-laos.com/luang-prabang/

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