Official site of : Luang Prabang Provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Dept

According to legend the Buddha smiled when he rested in Luang Prabang for a day during his travels, prophesying that it would one day be the site of a rich and powerful city.

Situated in northern Laos the township of Luang Prabang sits on a peninsular at the confluence of two rivers, the Nam Khan and the famous Mekong. With its charming combination of timber Lao houses and European colonial architecture it is easy to see why UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site in 1995.

Spectacular golden wats sit serenely amongst the bustle of cafes and restaurants offering the freshest of international cuisine. You can lose a morning drifting through the markets offering everything from pungent spices to ethnic tribe handicrafts and exquisite silk outfits. Enjoy a cold beer or wine down on the banks of the Mekong or try a brew of delicious Lao coffee.

Luang Prabang was the capital of the Lan Xang Kingdom until 1545 when King Phothisarat moved the administrative seat to Vientiane. The town of Luang Prabang owes its present name to the Pha Bang, a revered Buddha image (now in the Royal Palace Museum) which was brought to the town in the early 1500s.

By the end of the 16th century Luang Prabang become militarily weak. Finally the 1887 sacking of the city by the Chinese Haw led the Luang Prabang monarchy to accept the protection of the French, whose influence led to the construction of the many fine colonial villas that sit harmoniously alongside traditional Lao architecture.

The city fell into decline in the latter half of the 20th century following the reluctant withdrawal of the French, and the 1975 revolution that resulted in Laos declaring independence as the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic.

In 1989 Laos opened its doors to tourism stimulating economic growth and a revitalization of Luang Prabang. Both the traditional timber houses and the colonial mansions were restored to their former beauty and transformed into charming guest houses, hotels and restaurants to service the growing tourist trade. In 1995 the city was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Key Facts
Luang Prabang is situated in the centre of northern Laos, bordering the provinces of Oudomxay, Phongsaly and Houaphanh to the north, Vientiane and Sayabouly to the south and southwest and Xiengkhouang to the east. It has a total area of 19,714 square kilometers.

The province has a total population of just over 452,900 which includes 12 distinct ethnic groups. The Khmu are the largest ethnic group in the province and make up the majority (about 44%) of the provincial population.

They are a Mon-Khmer speaking people known for their knowledge of the forest, and they are believed to be the original inhabitants of Laos. The Hmong are the second most populous ethnic minority (16%). Lowland Lao comprise 39% of the population and live mostly in lowland valleys and Luang Prabang Town.


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