Luang Prabang, Laos
Royal Palace - National Museum
The Royal Palace in Luang Prabang was built in 1904 during the French colonial era for King Sisavang Vong and his family. The site for the palace was chosen so that official visitors to Luang Prabang could disembark from their river voyages directly below the palace and be received there. After the death of King Sisavang Vong, the Crown Prince Savang Vatthana and his family were the last to occupy the grounds. In 1975, the monarchy was overthrown and the palace was converted into a national museum.
The Palace grounds pay homage to the period of the royal reign as if time stood still once the occupants left. Remaining in the grounds of the palace is a collection of Luang Prabang’s most prized art, including the “Phra Bang” Royal Buddha image, which is the most revered image and the namesake of the town itself. Standing at 83cm tall and weighing around 50kg, cast of a gold, silver and bronze alloy. The Lao-language name for the image has been transliterated in a number of ways, including "Pra Bang," "Prabang," "Phabang" and "Pha Bang." Each year, on the third day of "Pi Mai" or Lao New Year, the Phra Bang is taken in procession to Wat Mai. There it is exhibited at a shrine where the Buddha image is ritually bathed by devout laypeople during Lao New Year festivities.
Important to note - appropriate dress must be worn whilst inside the palace building or grounds (or entry will not be granted), no singlets or short-shorts. No photography is allowed inside the palace grounds. Secure lockers are available to deposit cameras or personal belongings.
Khem Khong, Luang Prabang, Laos
Wat Xieng Thong
Wat Xieng Thong is a Buddhist temple, also known as the 'monastery of the golden city'. The temple was built in 1559 by the Lao King Setthathirath. Until 1975 the temple was a royal temple for the royal family. It was here the Lao kings were crowned. This temple is the most historically and famous of Luang Prabang’s many temples. The temple presents a sweeping two-tiered roof and ornate mosaics including a beautiful glass montage on the rear temple wall. All this make this temple to a must see attraction when you visit Luang Prabang. Visitors who would like to enter the temple must be aware that shoulders and legs have to be covered. Visitors may hire a traditional sarong to cover up if they need to.
Ban Phan Luang, Luang Prabang, Laos
A city where many come to wander and find themselves, Luang Prabang has a wealth of attractions to offer, including countless UNESCO temples, natural attractions such as the Khuangxi waterfalls and Pak Ou Caves. Many fall in love with the place and travelers routinely spend up to 2 weeks in this charming little city. Yet few have a chance to connect with the real charming ones, the local people hidden outside the main peninsula in the little villages beyond the tourist-filled city. Backstreet Academy helps you to find the most interesting things to do in Luang Prabang and ensures that you have an unforgettable experience in this beautiful town, coupled with the authenticity of being hosted by a local in his house or his workshop. Every single activity featured here is hosted by a local Laotian who has spent years perfecting his or her craft.
If you are looking for a different Luang Prabang travel experience or a more authentic way to travel Luang Prabang, just take one of the many things to do in Luang Prabang at Backstreet Academy and you will find that you have collected a memory so special and unique compared to the other thousands who venture through Luang Prabang the normal way.
Kham Khong, Luang Prabang
Nava Mekong - Pak Ou Caves and sunset cruise
The first dining boat in Luang Prabang. Widened at the beam to accomodate 10 four top tables, this traditional Laos river boat embarks each morning for a four hour lunch cruise. During the cruise, the Nava stops at the "must see" Pay Ou Caves to explore the 4,000+ sacred Buddhist statues scattered about the two limestone grottoes. The price is $25 per person.
The sunset cruise departs at 5.00pm (from October to May each year) and gently meanders downstream past the golf course and various mountain ranges, to experience the magnificent sunsets that Luang Prabang is famous for. Enjoy a delicious 5 course Lao set menu and watch our dancers perform age-old interpretations of rural life, folk tales and legends. The boat returns at 8.00pm and the price is $30 per person (excluding beverages)
Luang Prabang, Laos
Kuang Si Waterfall
This three tier waterfall, also known as; Tat Luang Si, is located 29km south of Luang Prabang, and is one of the major local attractions requiring a visit. The view of the falls is absolutely amazing. When you come to the entry you'll walk through a forest area before you come to the falls. At the base, there are several pools of turquoise water and small cascades 3-5 metres high. Most of the pools are available for swimming (2 are considered to be sacred and do not allow bathing), aside from being a place of great beauty and a photographers dream, it's extremely popular for both locals and tourists alike in particular during the hot season months. After a swim, there are many restaurants to enjoy. Another highlight to most who visit is the butterfly park enclosure and the bear sanctuary run by international group "Free the Bears"
Luang Prabang, Laos
Luang Prabang - the Destination
Luang Prabang, a declared Unesco World Heritage Site is located in the north centre of Laos at the convergence of the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers, approximately 420km north of Vientiane. The city was formerly the capital of a royal kingdom and the capital of the same name.
Prior to the communist takeover in 1975, it was known by the ancient name of Chiang Thong and held the seat of government for the Kingdom of Laos. In 1995, it was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is commonly referred to as "the best preserved city in Asia". The city is well known for its abundance of Buddhist temples and monasteries. One of the major charms of Luang Prabang is to witness the hundreds of monks from the various monasteries walk the streets in procession every morning, collecting alms offered by the local residents. (Please be respectful if you choose to partake in this and ask at the hotel for the best way to ensure this).
A city that offers an abundance of both natural and historical sights, it's a truly unique and special place to find yourself admiring the sunset over the banks of the Mekong in a setting and ambiance where time stands still.
Sisavong Road & Kitsarat Road, Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang Film Festival
With cooperation from the Department of Cinema (division of the Ministry of Information and Culture) of Lao PDR, the annual Luang Prabang Film Festival (LPFF) presents films on a Southeast Asian theme to tourists and locals in December each year. The screenings take place in non-traditional venues (both indoor and outdoor), as Luang Prabang has no working cinemas, in the former royal capital of Laos. After the festival, a smaller selection of films tour other major provinces in Laos, with screenings and mini festivals held over 2 night stops in each city. Between the yearly Laos events, on-going educational projects attempt to raise awareness about film in Laos, creating a long-term, sustainable project that seeks to support a burgeoning industry and art form.
Should your visit be able to co-incide with the special event, it's a unique opportunity to be a part of this very special cultural event.
Photo courtesy: Luang Prabang Film Festival
Southbank, Mekong River, Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang Golf Course
Luang Prabang Golf Course (and Clubhouse) sits about 6km west from the centre of town, situated along the south bank of the Mekong River, surrounded by forested tropical mountains. Holes 14 through 17 parallel the riverbank, with the par three 17th playing right along the rivers edge. Water is evident on nine of the 18 holes but really only comes into play on holes 3, 5, 7 and 14. The par four 18th hole plays uphill 35' over 375 yards from the tips to a medium-sized green that slopes 7" right to left across 75 feet of putting surface. The greens in general tend to be medium to small. Elevation changes across the entire layout are mild with hole 18 being the only exception and walking is not difficult, consisting of level to gentle undulating terrain contours.
Text credit: wwwlaosgolf.com
Sisavangvong Road, Luang Prabang, Laos
Set up each evening from 5pm to 10pm beginning at War Mai and running along Sisavangvong Road all the way to the town centre, you will find an amazing array of locally made handicrafts, specialty tea and coffee and all the "essentials" of t-shirts, clothing and local souvenirs. The street is closed to vehicles each evening and make-shift market stalls are set up, lining both sides of the road wiht an aisle in the centre. Many of the various hill tribes and ethnic groups also display and sell a variety of scarves and handicrafts. Be sure to bring your bargaining skills as many of the prices can be more expensive than can be found in some retail shops during the day. Bargaining should be fun and not an aggressive exercise.