Luang Prabang, or Louang prabang is a city located in north central Laos, where the Nam Khan river meets the Mekong River about 425 km north of Vientiane. It is the capital of Luang Prabang Province. The current population of the city is about 103,000.
The city was formerly the capital of a kingdom of the same name. Until the communist takeover in 1975, it was the royal capital and seat of government of the Kingdom of Laos. The city is also notable as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The main part of the city consists of four main roads located on a peninsula between the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers. The city is well known for its numerous temples and monasteries. Every morning, hundreds of monks from the various monasteries walk through the streets collecting alms. One of the major landmarks in the city is a large steep hill on which sits Wat Chom Si.
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE
The city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 because of its religious and colonial significance.
The city sits 700 metres above sea level at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers.
The Old Town is the main historical section of the city and this area is now the main focus for tourism. There are 33 Wats (temples), a Royal Palace and several other impressive residences to visit. The streets of the Old Town are also lined with French colonial buildings.
Luang Prabang only began welcoming tourists in 1989. Before that the city was cut off from the world and therefore remained untouched by western influences.
Luang Prabang is still an important spiritual centre and the capital of Buddhist learning in Laos. Every morning, saffron robed monks parade through the streets collecting donations of food and domestic supplies from the town’s residents.
Tourism has made Luang Prabang one of the richest provinces in Laos, yet it remains a quiet, peaceful haven and retains a unique, traditional atmosphere.