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Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang, an old town on the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, in northern Laos, has lots to offer the tourist or traveler, including loads and loads of pretty wats to visit—and plenty of opportunities for daily excursions, souvenir shopping, surfing at any number of internet cafes, chowing down on western food (tired of noodles already?!) and, of course, those early-morning mass-monk-sightings!

Quoting our Lonely Planet guidebook:

"The Luang Prabang area was the site of early Thai-Lao meuang [districts] that were established in the high river valleys. Luang Prabang remained the capital of the Lan Xang kingdom until 1545.

Even after the Lan Xang period, Luang Prabang was considered the main source of monarchic power. It wasn't until the Pathet Lao took over in 1975 that the monarchy was finally dissolved.

Today, Luang Prabang is a sleepy town of 16,000 inhabitants with a handful of historic temples and old French mansions in a beautiful mountain setting..."

We actually found this "sleepy town" to be a fairly busy, touristy place, but still full of enough reasons to make the visit. It also happens to be a good port of entry/exit with northern Thailand, along the Mekong—which is certainly more comfortable, and scenic, than all those bumpy, dusty roads.


As with some of the other pages at this site, no descriptive text accompanies these twelve shots below. Instead, just put your cursor on top of any picture, and read a bit about it there...

The Nam Khan River, nearing dusk, from Thanon Kingkitsalat (Kingkitsalat Street) in Luang Prabang

GONE FISHIN'... using nets along the Nam Khan River.  (Moments after this shot was taken, this poor guy on the right reached out just a little too far... and fell in!  Didn't seem too bothered or embarrassed, though.)

Yes, you probably recognize this one, from the homepage.  It's obviously a monk, walking by on Thanon Phothisalat (Phothisalat Street, a main thorougfare thru town) near signs representing both the present (a bank, email) and past (old, peeling revolutionary billboard).

That Chomsi Stupa, atop Phu Si hill-temple

Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham: what a mouthful!  (And an EYEful, too, wouldn't you agree?   :-)

Stupas at Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham

Rice cakes, drying outside a wat, late afternoon

Some standing Buddhas (apparently quite an unusual sight), at Wat Xieng Thong--one of Luang Prabang's most famous temples.

FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLET!  Our digital camera couldn't quite cope with the low light of this early morning (6:00? 6:30?) shot, and of course we didn't want to be obnoxious and use our flash.  But that all worked to our advantage, really, as it gave us this surreal image of monks walking down a main road in town, gratefully accepting small clumps of rice from people at various points along the way.

At the nearby village of Ban Phanom (only a few miles away), where weaving is the No. 1 export.

Another shot of weaving at Ban Phanom

Young Lao women, or school girls, zipping along on their bikes

Ok, that's all for this page.

We hope you've enjoyed taking a peek at Luang Prabang...

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