Image of Vat Saen, Luang Prabang © Jean-Marie Hullot / Creative Commons
Walking around the picturesque, riverside town of Luang Prabang with its French colonial villas, traditional tribal houses, and magnificent gilded temples, it’s easy to see why UNESCO called the former old capital of Laos “the best preserved city in Asia.” A World Heritage Site, Luang Prabang possesses a wealth of history and a rich blend of Indochinese European culture evident in its structures and cuisine since King Fa Ngum founded the first Lao Kingdom in the 14th century.
The mix of heritage is evident in many French colonial houses around town and at the Royal Palace Museum or Haw Kham. Designed in the French Beaux-Arts style and traditional Lao architecture, the palace was originally the residence of Laos royalty and has been converted into a museum to give visitors an education on Lao history and culture.
As Luang Prabang was the centre of Buddhism in the region until the 16th century, it has 33 Buddhist temples, many of which you can visit in a day or two. One of the most visited temples is Wat Xieng Thong. Previously used for important royal ceremonies, it’s a beautiful example of Buddhist architecture. Be sure to see its sweeping low roofs and richly detailed wall mosaic.
The food in Luang Prabang is also not to be missed. Whether in the markets or upscale bistros, you can find the balanced and flavourful traditional Laotian dishes and Gallic cuisine. Sample its different hearty noodle dishes (Khao Poon Nam Pa, Khao Poon Nam Sin); laap, a minced meat salad eaten with fresh vegetables; and the ubiquitous sticky rice and jeow, the spicy Lao chili paste. For a taste of what the French left behind, have a Khao Jee Sandwich, a French-Lao fusion of a baguette sandwich, and the full-flavoured Lao-style coffee as you lounge in a café, linger, and watch the idyllic Laotian life pass by.
Image of Luang Prabang © freeikon / Creative Commons.
Similar Southeast Asia Experiences
For other former royal towns in Southeast Asia, visit the citadel of Hue in Vietnam; Bagan in Myanmar; and the Angkor temple complex in Cambodia. For other cultural experiences, visit Malaysia's cities of Melaka, Penang and Ipoh; check out Singapore's cultural precincts; and go shopping for cloth in Chiang Mai in Thailand.
Spread out over an arid plain abutting the Ayeyarwady River, the 2,000 surviving temples in the city of Bagan permit guests t...
Tour places you right in the heart of the action: Southeast Asia's top three cities where the sun never sets on shopping,...VIEW DETAILS
Time travel in Southeast Asia by visiting two of its most notable ancient cities. Begin in Manila, capital of the Philippines...VIEW DETAILS
Tour of Laos and Viet Nam that will strengthen your body and nourish your spirit. For a life-altering change in perspective, ...VIEW DETAILS
Enjoy the luxury and colour of Bali’s foodscape in the quintessential dining tour, taking guests on a mystery dinner to...VIEW DETAILS
The city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 because of its religious and colonial significance. The city ...VIEW DETAILS
Island Holiday & Dining at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa.VIEW DETAILS
Explore more of Asia on wheels with our Hertz Asia Driving Guide. Download your free copy for our driving tips, popular self-...VIEW DETAILS
Go on an epic Asean journey with AirAsia Asean Pass, a travel pass that allows you to book our base fares at least 14 days or...VIEW DETAILS
Menara Peninsula Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia is the accommodation of choice among travellers who wish to indulge in sere...VIEW DETAILS
Enjoy a Suite stay in UNESCO Heritage Penang, Malaysia. Reserve a one night stay, and extend the second night at 25% discoun...VIEW DETAILS
Hotel location: ManilaVIEW DETAILS