The ancient royal city of Luang Prabang in Laos

Our stay in Vang Vieng was just a stopover on the way to Luang Prabang in Northern Laos. This time we bought tickets for the VIP bus to Luang Prabang.

Udon News would like to thank forumite 'Maithai' for this excellent report.

Here it is! Our VIP bus. Not quite my age - but ..... it was almost completely covered with foil, so we were spared the sight of the holes. Then we're off - beautiful swaying as if in the high seas! Departure was very late, but this is normal!

For 95,000 kip (about 380 baht) it should leave at 10 clock from the bus station. Fortunately, we had a pick up service from the hotel included.

It's 185 km on the National Road 13 from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang across the Laotian highlands. From mountain to mountain - about 7 hours - mostly without barriers leaving us constantly close to the abyss.

Every 90 minutes or so we stopped at a rest station, with stalls and 'toilet facility' for 2,000 Kip. Apart from that it was a great, exhilarating ride through mountains and highlands. The entire population there lives along the road. The huts built by the roadside are supported with makeshift stays above the abyss. Ask for a structural engineer! I couldn't sleep there. Sorry, no photos were taken due to the patched and stained glass. Sometime during the 7 hours drive it became boring and then the adrenaline flowed less, turning into a cold sweat.

Just in time for nightfall then we arrived in Luang Prabang. At the bus station tuk-tuks were waiting to take the farangs to their hotels. 20,000 kip (about 80 baht) per person.

The next morning we had breakfast in our small hotel right on the banks of the Mekong. It was centrally located, so that the whole city could be explored on foot.

Luang Prabang is really a peaceful town with about 47,000 inhabitants. It was also the historic capital of the old kingdom of Lan Xang and was the administrative seat of the French protectorate. In 1995, it was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

What amazes here is the strong French influences. Beautiful colonial architecture, lovingly and authentically rebuilt and restored, street cafes, restaurants - I could not stop being amazed.

Almost every building in the historic district was a guest house or cafe. Each one more beautiful than the other. Udon Thani unfortunately can't keep up!

But the real treasure of Luang Prabang is the magnificent temple. The old Laotian temple is distinguished from the Thai by their extremely steep roofs.

This is the Wat Xieng Thong (Temple of the Golden City). The oldest temple, which is still in its original condition.

The entrance is a splendour.

The scrying area inside. Unlike Thai temples, the interior is usually decorated in dark colors and very dimly lit. We feel a strong, spiritual atmosphere here.

The entrance is situated in the middle of the town of Mount Phou Si, up about 328 steps.

Then at the top there's a small chedi and a panoramic view of the city and the Mekong River. Great sunsets can be seen here - unfortunately always coupled with crowds of tourists.

Tons more temples - each more impressive than the last!

The pagoda at Haw Phra Bang. Here is the namesake of the city, the Buddha statue called Luang Prabang is from the days of the Khmer Empire.

In the evening everything is festively lit. CAUTION - on Chinese holidays such as New Year - there are millions of Chinese here!

In the evening the night market is a must! Arts and crafts, fabrics, jewelry and antiques - some very nice - some tourist stuff - and sometimes extremely overpriced.

For dinner, there are many nice restaurants, some with French flair, most with international menus and reasonable prices.

The last photo! We found the colour contrast so great - the orange monks with the purple blossoms!

To go home we opted for Lao Airlines, which flew us from the newly built international airport to Vientiane in just 30 minutes, on a new Airbus A320 - with green leather seats. We saved two days on the bus - once was great and more than enough!

Over the bridge, to the car and then home. We enjoyed it very much! Go - make the trip yourself! Do something cultural for a change!

posted on: 04.01.2014 - last update on: 05.01.2014

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Latitude: 19.883298
Longitude: 102.138712

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