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Luang Prabang

The northern province of Luang Prabang and its eponymous capital are among the most atmospheric and popular destinations when taking a multi-centre holiday in Laos.

The charming city of Luang Prabang, once the capital of Laos and still considered to be its spiritual heart, breathes a rich meld of French Indochinese architecture, Theravada Buddhist temples and a magical atmosphere.

Luang Prabang is strikingly situated on a peninsula formed by the confluence of two rivers, the Mekong and the Khan. Its palm-lined riverbanks, terracotta roofs, golden stupas and saffron-robed monks all come together to form a picture postcard increasingly difficult to find in Southeast Asia. Somnambulant and languid, its peaceful feel masks a history of conquest and recapture, and only hints at the intricate culture and traditional rituals that still take place here every day.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995, the town was described by the global body as "an outstanding example of the fusion of traditional architecture and Lao urban structures with those built by the European colonial authorities in the 19th and 20th centuries. Its unique, remarkably well-preserved townscape illustrates a key stage in the blending of these two distinct cultural traditions."

In 2008 the New York Times put Laos at the top of their list of "Places to Go". The city had already been considered one of Southeast Asia's must sees for well over a decade, so untouched it's certainly not. However, the city has a newfound popularity with older travellers and families seeking an exotic yet safe holiday .


A simple walk about town illustrates Luang Prabang's charms. It's picturesque, with all the charm of a quaint European town mixed with the wonderful, woodsy spice of Asia. A popular pastime is simply lounging in a quiet cafe with a baguette and coffee (Laotians drink the real stuff, not espresso) and watching local life pass by.
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