In the middle of Laos rainforest and, in between the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, lays an exotic and dream-like ancient city called Luang Prabang. The UNESCO world-heritage city is an outstanding example of architectural fusion of traditional Lao structures and and a European colonial style. It is a city were many come to wander, a city with beautiful maintained and golden temples, French colonial villages and natural wonders.
Luang Prabang has many attractions to offer including golden temples beautifully decorated with mosaics and beautiful painted murals and Buddha statues. Some of the most impressive and and a must-see are:
The Golden City Temple: Wat Xieng Thong
This is Luang Prabang’s oldest and most magnificent temple. Built in 1560 Wat Xieng Thong is renowned for its magnificent architecture, notable and beautifully restored wall murals and its elaborated mosaics. Today, the temple is seen as a significant monument of the spirit of Buddhist religion, royalty and Lao traditional art. The entry fee is 5000 KIP which is around US$0.50.
Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham
This is one of Luang Prabang’s largest and beautifully decorated temples. The temple is known as the new temple since it was founded around 1780 by king Anurat. Wat Mai was the temple used by Laos royalty since it lays next to the Royal Palace. The entrance fee is 10,000 Kip or US$1.00.
Wat Sene the temple of the 100 000 treasures
This is one of my favorite temples in Luang Prabang. It was built in 1718 with 100.000 stones of the Mekong river. This is the first temple decorated in yellow and red simulating Thai architecture.
The Wat Mahathat or “Temple of the Great Stupa”
This temple is known as the monastery of the Stupa and its located near the Mekong river and south west of Mount Phousi. It is characterized for its carved wooden windows, rosette-gilded pillars and exteriors telling tales of Buddha’s past lives.
Wat Pha Bang
This temple lays on the grounds of the Royal Palace and it was built to house Laos’ most sacred Buddha image. The temple is decorated in glass and gold with a multi tiered roof adorned with stylized Naga finials.
In addition to its golden temples, Luang Prabang is a city that has many other attractions and magical experiences for example:
The night Market:
Asia is very famous for its night markets, but I found that many markets in Southeast Asia countries are very similar. The Luang Prabang night market was one of my favorites because unlike other markets, this one had many unique goods and crafts. The market takes place between 17:00 and 23:00 beginning at Wat Mai and running along Sisavangvong Road. The range of products include hand made crafts, Lao coffee, tea and species, Lao liqueur, books, etc. If you head towards the end of the market you will find the Night Food Market.
This is a small mountain (about 100 meters high) resting in the center of Luang Prabang. Mount Phousi means “sacred hill” and from the top you will have a great 360-degree view of the city and the forested mountains that surround it.
Alms Giving Ceremony
Every morning, hundreds of monks wander through the city streets and take part in the “Almsgiving ceremony”. The monks have only one meal a day, and this meal is offered as a gift during the ceremony. This tradition started as early as the 14th century and today it is a highly respected ritual that takes part every morning at sunrise. It is simply a magical experience! Just bear in mind to be respectful of this ritual by arriving before it starts and taking pictures without a flash.
Luang Prabang is a city which perfectly combines self-reflextion, relax, nature, culture and art. Take your time to visit the city, wonder around and enjoy everything it has to offer.