window of a small temple in Luang Prabang

The old capital of Laos is the perfect place to linger around, for a few days, enjoying the peaceful atmosphere of this temple town on the Mekong.

The old Royal capital of Laos lived on as a sleepy town, dominated by a Buddhist temple culture, long after the king had been deposed by the communist Pathet Lao take-over in 1975, only to be somewhat woken up when UNESCO declared Luang Prabang a World Heritage site. The waking-up process continued as Laos gradually opened to tourism, and today Luang Prabang is firmly established as the country’s tourist capital – which is still a humble experience compared to anything else touristic in South East Asia.


main building at the Wat Xieng Thong complex

inlaid mosaic, outer wall of one of the lesser buildings at the Wat Xieng Thong complex

If any town deserves to be called peaceful, it is Luang Prabang. One can easily spend a few days in town, wandering through temples big and small, and chatting with some of the many orange-clad monks that populate them. Highlight is the Wat Xieng Thong, a large complex with inlaid walls, frescoes and a score of larger and smaller temple buildings varying from well maintained to desperate state of disrepair. Afterwards, nothing better than whiling away the late afternoons sipping a drink, or sampling excellent Lao food, on one of the numerous terraces that line the Mekong River bank, enjoying the inevitable sunset.


sculpture at one of the smaller temples in Luang Prabang

playing the drums, once every two weeks with full moon and new moon

monks protecting their shaven heads from the sun

river boats awaiting tourists


sunset over the Mekong, from one of the river-side terraces














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