Wat Xieng Thong temple in Luang Prabang in Laos
Located in the heart of Southeast Asia, Laos It is a country that is among the mountains that separate it from Vietnam and one of the most imposing rivers in the world, the mekong river.
On this our first trip to Laos, we visited one of the most attractive areas,Luang Prabang, a city that mixes a jungle nature of series like «Lost», with a deep religious spirituality.
Here you have this video of Luang Prabang, in case you want to see this article in images.
Hemekong river It is vitally important forLaos since it is a country that has no exit to the sea and acts as a highway between the different locations that are located on the banks of the river.
In fact it marks a natural border of Laos to the west and south with four of its neighboring countries, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia Y Vietnam.
Luang Prabang, city that has been declared «World Heritage" by Unesco and is located north of Laos, it is one of the three most important and tourist cities of Laos next to Vientiane Y Champassak.
It is located on a small peninsula formed by the Mekong River, and to the other by its tributary the Nam Khan, and has something more than 70,000 inhabitants.
For stay in Luang Prabang During your visit, it is worth looking for one of the hotels that occupy the French colonial buildings, since the accommodations in Laos are really cheap.
Curiosities history of Laos
Laos before the fourteenth century it covered a huge territory because its territory covered an important part of Thailand and Cambodia
In fact Laos was known as «Lan Zang », The kingdom of the million elephants.
Kuang Si Falls in Laos
When it became a French colony, it was part of what was known as IndoChina next to the current countries of Cambodia and Vietnam.
Luang Prabang it was the capital of Laos until in the fourteenth century capitality moved to Vientiane.
This change was due to two important facts.
The first was defensive against frequent invasions of Burma and China, and the other reason was orographic, since Vientiane is much flatter and facilitated communications and commerce.
A curious fact that not everyone knows is that Laos was the most bombed country of the Vietnam War.
Royal Palace in Luang Prabang
The American army once reached the border of Vietnam with Laos, continued advancing until the end of the war in 1975, the same year that ended its monarchy and Laos became a republic.
Another very important fact of the country's social situation is that after conflicts with Thailand, institutional relations have gone through bad times.
Today this has changed and a sample of them is that they have already been built five bridges known as the «friendship bridges« , which link the two countries across the mekong river.
What to see in Luang Prabang
The first thing to say is that Luang Prabang is visited on foot, it is still a small city where all his life is concentrated in a few streets.
In this list that I will highlight below most prominent places what you should see during your stay in Luang Prabang, we must bear in mind that not all visits are in the city center.
You will find many of the great visits and experiences in the surroundings, especially those linked to the Mekong River or the visit to the famous Kuang Si Falls.
That is why by listing the 15 essential sites that you have to see in Luang Prabang, we will be adding the information you need to know to visit those that are far from the city.
Public transports shine by their absence and most of the excursions require that you rent a motorcycle or that you sign up for excursions that include transportation and the guide in Spanish.
Also in the excursions, the transports carry air conditioning, which in times of very hot is greatly appreciated.
Driving a motorcycle in Luang Prabang is not very complicated for people who are accustomed to driving this vehicle, but it is true that if you do not usually ride motorcycles it can be quite difficult, since you can not say that traffic rules are respected very much.
Here you have an article with Practical advice we give you to visit LaosI'm sure they are very useful for the organization of the trip.
As for the excursions, there are one or several days, if you are going to consider several people to sign up for one of several days because it is likely that you will be more profitable.
In fact there are so many types of excursions that some are almost like an agency trip so you only have to worry about booking the flight and the hotel, like the 9-day tour throughout Laos, or the 3 or 4 day tour of Luang Prabang what is the time you need to see the city
Mekong River in Laos
With more than 4,000 kilometers in length, this river marks the life and history of Luang Prabang.
As it passes through the city, it has a width of more than one kilometer and is used as a river highway to link many of the small fishing villages.
Their sunsets as it passes by Luang Prabang They are one of the most sought after prints by all visitors.
It can take many days to go through it, but if it is possible to partially navigate it, either on single-day excursions or on more adventurous expeditions over several days.
In fact, a visit to Luang Prabang must include some excursion in which the Mekong River is the protagonist, that's why all the agency packages include excursions to cross it.
Here we leave the excursions that include visits by the Mekong River at sunset.
But if you are looking for a full day in the Mekong here we leave you an excursion that includes several visits to fishing villages, caves and even an activity in which you can see an elephant camp.
Here visit the Mekong and elephant camp.
Fishing villages of the Mekong River
Fishing village Mekong river in Laos
By all the mekong river small fishing populations are found as Bang Xang Hai that we could meet
Its main activity is obviously fishing, but also the cultivation of rice and agriculture.
During the day these small towns descend the river to trade in the different local markets of Luang Prabang.
Pak Ou Caves
Pak Ou caves in Laos
This corner of the river is known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas.
They are coming up by boat north on the mekong river where it joins an important tributary, the Nam Ou.
The name of these caves arises from their location at the mouth of this tributary.
Pak Ou in a pun that means Mouth of the Ou River, specific, Pak means mouth and Nam Ou It is the name of the tributary.
They were found in the fourteenth century and merchants used them as a shelter, while leaving statues of Buddha Through the different caves.
To visit these caves, there is an excursion that i
Wat Long Khoun temple in Luang Prabang
Wat Long Khoun temple in Laos
This small temple is located right in front of Luang Prabang, on the other side of the mekong river.
It is home to a group of monks, which can only be reached by boat.
This temple cannot always be visited because if the monks have gone to the city to be part of the "monk parade", the temple is temporarily closed to the public.
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Kuang Si Falls in Luang Prabang
Kuang Si Falls in Laos
A few kilometers from Luang Prabang there areKuang Si Falls, these falls of Turquoise Color They are one of the most beautiful in the world and without a doubt one of the jewels of Laos.
These waterfalls at various heights inside the jungle are the biggest tourist attraction in the area, as they are absolutely unique.
As it descends the hillside, it forms small pools in which it is possible to bathe between vines and waterfalls.
Without a doubt they seem to us one of the most beautiful that we have been able to see throughout the planet.
To visit them there are several excursions that take you to visit them picking you up at your own hotel.
If you simply want transportation, it is possible to sign up for a Kuang Si waterfall tour for free that lasts a little more than 5 hours in which for only about five euros they make the journey.
If you want a more personal visit with a guide that will explain more things there are two options, in a group with activities like kayaking (this is in English) orprivateof a full day, which also includes visits to temples and boat trips on the Mekong with a guide in Spanish.
Bear Shelter in Luang Prabang
Laos Bears Shelter
At the entrance of the park where the falls are located, you will pass by a small bear shelter, where they are responsible for helping these animals that have been attacked by the peasants.
The coexistence of these majestic bears with the local population has been a conflict during the last years given the conflict over the territory.
Most of the bears would not have survived if they had not been rescued, since there are some who have recovered from very serious wounds, including amputations.
Wat Xieng Thong temple in Luang Prabang
That of Wat Xieng Thong He is the principal of Luang Prabang temples and one of the best preserved.
Wat Xieng Thong temple in Laos
A coincidence of fate made it possible to keep from the crowds looting of pirates that came by him mekong river.
These pirates took advantage of the invasions of the Chinese armies to take away all the jewels and valuables that remained after the attacks.
The chief of the main group of pirates that ravaged the cities studied in Luang Prabang, so when he arrived in the city he decided to respect the temple.
Later it was rebuilt and in its enclosure we find several temples and small chapels, prayer rooms and stupas.
Here we leave you where to hire the guided tours within the city which include this temple and the visits that we are going to teach you now.
Monte Phou Si viewpoint in Luang Prabang
Monte Phou Si viewpoint in Luang Prabang
If you want to have a 360º panoramic view of the city, this mountain and the temple that houses it is the place where you should go.
In the city center in Luang Prabang, the Mont Phousi it rises about 100 meters, from where it looks perfectly like the rivers Mekong Y Nam Khan They surround the jungle city.
To climb a council, there are two sides of the climb, the one with fewer steps (more than 300) is the one that gives the Royal Palace, so if you want to save yourself steps, that's the "easiest" access
Luang Prabang Royal Palace
Luang Prabang Royal Palace
At the end of 1974 the Monarchy in Laos, the state decided to keep the Royal Palace so that later generations could enjoy it.
Thanks to this decision, this Royal Palace It can be visited and preserved as it was abandoned by the kings after their escape from the country.
You can see some impressive rooms with curious mosaics and golden gold leaf decorations that cover the palace wood.
In them the kings of Laos They made official receptions to the presidents of the rest of the monarchies who visited them.
This is a visit that it is very worth doing with a guide since it is the only way to understand well the history of this fascinating country.
Night Market in Luang Prabang
The joy in the city puts the Night market, a market that is installed every day on the main street of the city, which runs through the Luang Prabang peninsula.
Night Market in Luang Prabang
This street that also houses the Royal Palace, every day, starting at 5 p.m., when the sun goes down, becomes a huge market.
Union point between merchants from all the surrounding villages of the mekong river, it is a must for tourists.
In addition to the massive stalls of crafts and locally made products, you find an area of street food, the one we liked the most on our trip to Southeast Asia.
A street with a multitude of food stalls where tourists converge with local people, and a great place since there are so many people in the stalls, that the food is always fresh because they do not stop cooking.
And on top of it very cheap. 100% recommended.
If you are authentic foodis who love gastronomy and are interested in the food of the country, there is a fun experience that is to sign up for aLao food class
Night Market at Luang Prabang in Laos
French colonial architecture in Luang Prabang
After the years of French colonial occupation most of the buildings of that time have been preserved, so walk the streets of Luang Prabang It is a walk through streets and historic houses.
There are some of the houses of that time that have been converted into hotels, such as the one we stayed at, the Villa Meydou.
The Sisivangvong street which takes the name of the penultimate king, and where is the Night market, is a clear example of these colonial constructions.
If you want to visit them, this is the best area to see them, although you can find these colonial houses throughout the city.
Bamboo Bridges in Luang Prabang
Bamboo Bridges in Luang Prabang in Laos
Each year the flow of the river falls, this is due to the arrival of the dry season.
It is the moment in which the citizens of Luang Prabang build these wonderful bamboo bridges about him Nam Khan River, which you can cross paying about 50 cents of euros.
They are one of the most curious prints of Luang Prabang.
Of course, if you go in the rainy season when the flow rises very sharply, you probably cannot see them.
When the river grows it is normal that there are overflows due to the strong floods of the river that devastate these bamboo constructions.
Wat Aham temple in Luang Prabang
Wat Aham temple in Luang Prabang in Laos
Also in the city center,Wat aham It is actually a set of temples converted into a home of monks.
It is chaired by a huge buddha statue under some old wooden structures that have been rebuilt over the years.
This beautiful temple also houses inside several of the Buddha sculptures that have been recovered from the temples destroyed over time in the attacks on the city.
You can also see a huge stupa which, unlike the rest of stupas of the temples, it was not used to deposit ashes of the dead.
It is built in concrete and was used by monks to store treasures and relics when Luang Prabang was attacked.
Monks parade in Luang Prabang
Monks parade in Luang Prabang in Laos
One of the most interesting points for your visit is the event that is repeated every day of the year.
At sunrise, at 5 in the morning, all monks of the temples of Luang Prabang They leave in procession to tour the city.
It is an event of spiritual connection between Luang Prabang's neighbors and the many surrounding monks.
Dressed in their clothes, in a row sorted by age, they are loaded with ballot boxes to receive offerings from citizens.
These offerings are the only foods that monks eat during the day, which they divide into two meals.
Sisavangvong Street in Luang Prabang in Laos
As I said, this street takes its name from the penultimate king of Laos, and it is the place where you will find a large number of bars and restaurants.
Many of them are focused for tourists with international food, but not all are like that.
You can also find local food especially rice cooked in a thousand different ways, as well as meats, especially chicken.